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College football is nearly upon us and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) boasts some of the best coaches in the country. As the season approaches, examines the top coaches in the conference.  

Dabo Swinney, Clemson 

Swinney was promoted to interim coach in 2008 after Tommy Bowden was released. He posted a 4-3 mark in the final seven games of that season. The next season, Swinney guided the Tigers to a 9-5 record in 2009 and the Atlantic Division title. Now, as a regular national championship contender, he’s posted ten games in each of the last six years. The Tigers are now the kings of the ACC and have claimed three, consecutive ACC titles, won the 2016 ACC National Championship and have taken a trip to the ACC College Football Playoffs yearly. Swinney is 101-30 since taking over in Death Valley and once again the national championship contender. 

Mark Richt, Miami 

The Hurricanes are 19-7 with Mark Richt at the helm and 12-4 in the ACC. Miami won the ACC Coastal Division title last season for the first time since joining the league. Richt arrived in South Beach after leading Georgia to a 145-51 record. Georgia won two SEC titles and recorded several double-digit victories in nine seasons. His only problem was coaching the same time as Urban Meyer and Nick Saban. Richt has already made a difference in just two years at Miami. The Hurricanes look to take the next step this season. 

Bobby Petrino, Louisville 

Petrino has averaged nine wins per year in his 13 seasons as a head coach. The Cardinals are 34-18 since joining the ACC in 2014, finishing at least .500 or better in all four years. Even so, his record was markedly better during his tenure with the Cardinals in the Big East. From 2003 to 2006 Petrino compiled a 41-9 record and two finishes in the top ten of the final Associated Press poll at Louisville. He is an offensive wizard. The 2016 season was the high point of Petrino’s second stint at Louisville. The Cardinals won nine games, finished 7-1 in ACC play and quarterback Lamar Jackson won the Heisman Trophy. Petrino is 117-48 overall as a head coach in the collegiate ranks. 

Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech 

The transition from Frank Beamer to Fuente makes one think Beamer never left Blacksburg. The Hokies are 19-8 under Fuente’s two seasons and claimed the 2016 ACC Coastal Division title. The Hokies have finished in the top 25 in back-to-back years and going onto the season, they’re ranked again. Fuente brought improvement to Memphis before coming to Virginia Tech. The Tigers won five games in the three years prior to Fuente’s hiring. Then, Memphis went on to win 19 games over the next two seasons and finished No. 24 nationally in the final Associated Press poll while contending for an at-large bid for the mid-majors. Fuente is one of college football’s top offensive minds and has a strong track record of developing quarterbacks. 

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S.K. Patrick is a young, up-and-coming sports journalist from Louisville, Ky with over 5 years of sports journalism experince. Born April 17, 1990, Patrick attended Pleasure Ridge Park High School and graduated from the University of Louisville with his bachelor’s degrees in mass communications and a minor in marketing. Fueled by a passion for sports since his childhood, Patrick has been part of the local sports journalism community for several years. He’s also a former high school football player and little league football coach. “Sports are my true passion in life,” he says. “I’m very objective and open-minded when it comes to the teams that I support. “ Patrick has covered press conferences and games for U of L’s Sports Information Office, reporting on Rick Pitino, Bobby Petrino, Jimbo Fisher, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski and many others. Patrick describes his sports reporting style as, "opinion-based with facts supporting them" and he’s pleased to have the opportunity to partner with SportsRadioAmerica. “This website is a chance for me to enhance my writing skills, popularize myself and have my work be viewed on a national level,” Stephen says. Instagram: S.K._323 Twitter: 323_SKP

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