Florida State Football: Where Jimbo Fisher Ranks Among ACC's Top 2012 Coaches

Stephen SheehanCorrespondent IJuly 11, 2012

Florida State Football: Where Jimbo Fisher Ranks Among ACC's Top 2012 Coaches

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    Entering the 2011 season, Florida State was considered a trendy pick to compete for a national championship. 

    Unfortunately for Seminoles fans, the team finished 23rd in the Associated Press Top 25—right behind fellow ACC foes Clemson and Virginia Tech. 

    Heading into 2012, head coach Jimbo Fisher isn't on the hot seat, but the pressure is on for Bobby Bowden's successor to put his stamp on the once storied program. 

    With guys like Dabo Swinney of Clemson and Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech leading hugely successful programs, the ACC certainly doesn't lack for coaching talent. 

    Let's take a look at where Fisher sits among the ACC's top coaches. 

5. Al Golden, Miami

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    Though he lacks the longevity of some of his ACC contemporaries, Miami's Al Golden doesn't lack passion. 

    After a standout collegiate career at Penn State and a brief stint with the New England Patriots, the former tight end entered the coaching ranks as the offensive coordinator at Red Bank Catholic High in New Jersey. 

    The defensive-minded coach eventually made his name when he served as Al Groh's defensive coordinator for five years at Virginia. 

    Golden was also responsible for turning around the Temple program in 2009 when he led the team to its first winning record since 1990. 

    However, Golden's toughest task has been rebuilding one of college football's most storied, yet controversial programs. 

    Although he only went 6-6 in his first season with the Hurricanes, Golden has done a solid job recruiting big-time athletes to a program that's made headlines for the wrong reasons in recent years (Yahoo! Sports).

    By snagging in-state stars Tracy Howard (CB) and Randy "Duke" Johnson (RB) in 2012, Golden showed that the Hurricanes are still a program that attracts top recruits. 

4. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

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    Call it whatever you want, but Paul Johnson's triple-option offense simply works. 

    The 54-year-old brought his signature rushing attack to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets back in 2008, and the system has been nearly flawless. 

    During his four-year tenure at GT, Johnson's rushing attack has been the best in the ACC while ranking in the top four nationally every year. 

    Although Johnson's team has never played in a national championship, his squad did win the conference title in 2009. 

    Along the way, the Yellow Jackets' head coach has produced a pair of first-rounders—defensive end Derrick Morgan and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas—as well as wide receiver Stephen Hill and defensive end/linebacker Michael Johnson. 

    After posting an 8-5 record with five conference wins in 2011, Johnson still remains one of the better coaches in the ACC. 

3. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State

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    For most coaches, going 19-8 during your first two seasons is nothing to scoff at. 

    However, things are a little different when you're coaching in Tallahassee. 

    After serving as Bobby Bowden's offensive coordinator for three seasons, Jimbo Fisher eventually took over for one of college football's most renowned head coaches and was expected to get Florida State back in national title contention. 

    While his on-field performance isn't at an A level yet, it's hard to argue against his work on the recruiting trail. 

    In his first recruiting go-around, Fisher managed to reel in a hefty catch of prized recruits including safety LaMarcus Joyner, linebackers Jeff Luc and Christian Jones, defensive end Bjoern Werner and receivers Christian Green and Kenny Shaw. 

    Fisher's 2011 and 2012 signing classes also ranked as some of the best in the nation as he managed to bring in JUCO stars Cornelius "Tank" Carradine and Jacob Fahrenkrug, safety Karlos Williams, running back James Wilder, Jr. tight end Nick O'Leary and a pair of elite defensive linemen in Mario Edwards, Jr. and Eddie Goldman. 

    Although Fisher is known for his offensive prowess, it could be his stacked defense that catapults the Seminoles back up the rankings in 2012. 

Dabo Swinney, Clemson

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    Like Miami's Al Golden, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is a young coach who combines a no-nonsense attitude with an intense desire to win. 

    In just four years at Clemson, Swinney has transformed the program into one of the nation's up-and-comers. 

    Although he and his team would surely like to forget the 70-33 stomping by West Virginia in the Orange Bowl, the national embarrassment only seemed to fuel Swinney as he hit the recruiting trail this offseason. 

    The 42-year-old managed to sign six ESPN 150 players, including Travis Blanks, the class' second-ranked safety. 

    However, his best work might not come to fruition until next season as Clemson reportedly got a commitment from the top prospect of 2013 in defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, according to Michael Carvell of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

    Although there's been some controversy about Nkemdiche possibly de-commiting if Clemson doesn't make an offer to his high school teammate, keeping Nkemdiche in a Tigers uniform will surely be near the top of Swinney's to-do list (AJC.com).

Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech

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    Frank Beamer has been coaching at Virginia Tech for longer than any of his players have been alive. 

    During that 25-year run, the elder statesman of the ACC has overseen the development of numerous future NFL stars, perhaps none bigger than Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. 

    Although Virginia Tech doesn't have the same "sex-appeal" of Miami or Florida State, it's hard to argue with a quarter century of consistency. 

    Since taking over the reigns at VT, all Beamer has done is go 209-98-2 with four ACC titles. 

    With a future first-rounder at the helm in quarterback Logan Thomas, Beamer's team should still be the favorite in the crowded conference.