It's easy to rank running backs and quarterbacks. One needs really only to look at the numbers and adjust if needed for certain circumstances.
The job is a little more difficult when trying to assess the coaches that lead these teams into hostile environments in hopes of achieving gridiron glory.
Does the team's success stem from the players or the staff preparing these young men? Do they win in spite of or because of their coaching staff?
How well do these coaches adjust to their current job? Sometimes coaches may make a name for themselves at one place before floundering at another.
That's right, Rich Rodriguez, I'm looking at you.
Does it mean the coach has forgotten what he's doing?
This list tries to assess the best coaches in the ACC heading into 2010. This means taking the following into consideration:
How well have they done at this school? Have they fit into the culture and learned how to be successful here? Have they been able to do it for more than just a few seasons?
How does their success compare to others at the school? After all, 10-win seasons at some schools are an expectation. At other schools they can get you a lifetime contract.
Are there question marks surrounding a team's success? Has the coach proven that he can win without certain marquee players or assistant coaches?
Does the person play the part of a coach? Can he recruit? Does he get teams up for the big games? Can he avoid letdowns?
There is so much to consider but only 12 coaches to rate, so let the debate begin!
A new era is beginning for the Virginia Cavaliers under head coach Mike London.
London will be an unknown entity entering the ACC next season, and it will be a while before we can really make a judgment on his effectiveness.
The former University of Richmond football coach earned the school its first national championship in any sport in 2008. However, he inherited a strong program which he was able to successfully push over the hump.
At Virginia he will have a new quarterback, running back, offensive linemen, and a team that won only three games last season.
London has very good qualities that Virginia fans will love. He is a former defensive coordinator with strong ties to the university, he has a good recruiting background, and his personality will make him more of a media favorite than his predecessor Al Groh.
However, the road will be long, and we will reserve judgment on London until he gets a few years under his belt at the FBS level. After all, next season could be pretty rough.
Didn't we almost have it all, Fridge?
Friedgen was an offensive genius his first few years at Maryland. The Terrapins won an ACC title and a BCS berth in his first year en route to three straight seasons of 10 wins or more.
However, in the years following his rocket start, Maryland has begun to fear its own inconsistency. Since 2003, Maryland has only two winning seasons, and last year they went a humbling 2-10.
The Terrapins face a critical year this season as they try to ride the rushing attack of Da'rel Scott and Davin Meggett towards success.
If Maryland suffers another setback, then the Fridge will be out the door.
Now it's hard to say that Friedgen is a bad coach when you look at the start, but his vaunted offensive repertoire resulted in the 102nd-ranked offense in the NCAA last season.
Injuries were certainly a factor and the Fridge has tried to make adjustments over the years. However, whether he has been calling the offensive plays or delegates authority, when you look at the trend, things are poor.
Maryland's offense was 68th in 2008, 92nd in 2007, and 88th in 2006.
People may have caught up to him, and that might lead him out the door.
It seems like since Boston College joined the ACC, just about anybody can coach the Eagles and find success.
The boys from Chestnut Hill just keep finding ways to win. After a rather ugly ending to the Jagodzinski chapter, Spaziani was able to post a winning season of 8-5 behind the legs of breakout running back Montel Harris.
Spaziani has a long history with the Eagles, even if he has only one season of head coaching to his credit. As defensive coordinator, he helped orchestrate many of those runs to the ACC Championship game.
The question now becomes: Can he build an offense to get Boston College back to the top of the heap?
Spaziani was the running backs' coach at Boston College, and people have both praised and condemned his play-calling as coach.
However, his short-term success is going to hinge on the development of 25-year-old quarterback Dave Shinskie. If he can balance the Eagle attack and hold off rising programs like Florida State and Clemson, he will make a name for himself.
As an entrenched veteran of Boston College, Spaziani has earned patience and faith from the fan base, but questions still remain.
The torch has been passed.
Fisher got off to a good start with his recruiting class, but all of that means jack until he wins on the field.
Let's remember, Florida State was pretty much a non-entity before Bobby Bowden came to town. Granted, the job is a much more attractive program today, but with that new foundation comes lofty expectations.
With the return of Christian Ponder, Seminole fans are expecting big things from Fisher, but Florida State has not had a 10-win season since 2003.
They also have not reached the ACC Championship since 2005, the year before Fisher arrived to Tallahassee.
Let's face it, Bowden has been a ceremonial figure for awhile, and Fisher probably did run most of the program these past few seasons.
Now the spotlight will be on him, though, and the impressive offensive guru must patch together a defense if they want to take the conference crown in 2010.
Fisher has earned a chance to prove himself, but considering his predecessor, he will need to succeed early and understand that comparisons will surely follow him throughout his tenure.
We know Fisher can recruit; we know he can run an offense. Now we will learn if he can run a team as the face of the program.
That look says it all.
Let's face it, coaching at Duke is hard.
The Blue Devils certainly had tremendous success decades ago, and Steve Spurrier made quite a dent in the ACC when he was there.
Since then, though, coaching at Duke has been a graveyard.
Duke's last winning season was in 1994. Over the next 14 years, the Blue Devils won 22 games.
So it's no wonder Dave Cutcliffe has become one of the hottest names in the coaching business.
In two seasons he took the Blue Devils out of the cellar and precariously close to a bowl game with a 9-15 record over both years and an impressive development of quarterback Thaddeus Lewis.
This season, though, will tell people much more about Cutcliffe and the development of this Blue Devil program.
For a team with a substandard defense last season and a reliance on the arm of a senior quarterback, can Duke find success in 2010?
Cutcliffe has an impressive list of quarterbacks he has mentored on both the collegiate and professional levels. He made a name with Eli Manning, and he also helped develop Erik Ainge, Brady Quinn and Peyton Manning.
He set school offensive records at two SEC schools and could certainly make a splash in the ACC.
On the other hand, Duke is a completely different beast, and despite the solid record, he has yet to record a winning season and is 4-12 in the ACC.
Cutcliffe certainly can break through, but if he can do it with all the question marks heading into this season, he may vault to the top of this list.
O'Brien is certainly an ACC guy.
He was a coordinator at Virginia, he led the Boston College Eagles, and he unexpectedly made a crash landing in Raleigh to take over the North Carolina State Wolfpack.
Now O'Brien's career looks pretty good overall. At 91-66 overall, O'Brien had eight teams bowl eligible and won six bowls in a row at one point.
However, in three years with the Wolfpack, O'Brien has yet to have a winning season and has finished no better than third in the Atlantic Division.
O'Brien has a gem in quarterback Russell Wilson, who is perhaps the best quarterback in the conference, yet he has been unable to do what ultimately matters in developing his impressive offense: win.
Despite an offense that posted an average of over 30 points per game, the Wolfpack allowed an average of over 31 points per game.
It was the second-worst scoring defense in the ACC.
The year before that, N.C. State was dead last in the ACC in scoring defense.
In all three years, the Wolfpack defense has never been better than 10th, and so the impressive hire is looking more and more out of his element in Raleigh.
O'Brien must be feeling the heat. Despite a good recruiting background and a few impressive wins on the ledger, the Wolfpack cannot seem to string everything together.
Has he forgotten how to coach? Unlikely.
Is his style working? Not yet.
This year will be a critical year for O'Brien and company. He needs to fix a defense that has to replace its entire starting line in 2010.
If he can't, O'Brien may not even be on the list next season.
ACC expansion has not been kind to the Miami Hurricanes.
In three seasons, Randy Shannon has helped turn the image of him and his program around.
In 2008, Shannon ranked dead last in the power ranking for all BCS coaches by The Sporting News. Maybe it had something to do with being shut out and humiliated in the final regular-season game ever played at the Orange Bowl.
The hiring of offensive coordinator Mark Whipple and the development of Jacory Harris has progressively improved the program in Coral Gables.
However, there are question marks surrounding the resurgent "U" coming into 2010.
Miami's success has centered around Harris. The brash kid has a big arm, but can he play consistently enough to take Miami to the next level?
His meltdown in Blacksburg helped demonstrate why Miami gave up the third-highest total of sacks in the ACC.
Can they avoid the letdowns and battle the Techs for Coastal supremacy?
The question with Shannon is just how well he is fitting in at Miami.
On one hand, there seems to be controversy each and every off-season. Whether it is complaints over salary, staff changes, or player transfers, Shannon's name is rarely printed in a positive light in Miami.
Some fans credit the recent success far more to his staff than to Shannon himself.
Does Shannon have the leadership and charisma to win over the fan base and bring back the U?
Swinney looked the least likely candidate to replace Tommy Bowden halfway through the 2008 season.
Other coordinators had previous head coaching experience, yet the wide receivers' coach got the interim tag, and his 4-3 record got him the job.
Last year, Swinney went 9-5, leading Clemson to its first ever ACC Championship game appearance.
Swinney actually is a bit of a charismatic personality; he has recruited well and helped restore faith in the program moving forward.
Of course, when you have a top talent like running back C.J. Spiller, it's easy to look good.
Swinney has a rather short career to look at, so judgment is difficult, but his biggest strength appears to be the intangibles. He has made a career of surpassing expectations, and his charm has won over a disillusioned program.
The loyalty of the players has made Clemson a team to watch in 2010, but will they be able to overcome adversity whenever it rears its ugly head?
Will Swinney still be able to command the locker room once the honeymoon is over?
We simply don't know.
However, we do know that four of their five losses last season were by five points or less. They were ranked in the Top 25 and could take another step forward next season.
Clemson does not have a bad loss under Swinney, but he has yet to take down the rival Yellow Jackets in three tries. Swinney must get over that hump or face the consequences.
Swinney's early track record is positive, but the ACC has been marked by flashy starts that failed to pan out down the road.
Butch Davis is an interesting conundrum.
If you look at the body of his work, you have to like it.
Davis began his head coaching career taking over a Miami program in disarray. The NCAA-leveled sanctions lowered scholarships and denied them bowl eligibility his first year.
Yet the Hurricanes had five winning seasons of at least eight wins in his six seasons in Coral Gables. His final season involved a BCS controversy when the magic formula put Miami out and arch-rival Florida State in for the championship game.
His stint with the Cleveland Browns was pretty bad, but he never had a real quarterback to build his team around. He got more out of Tim Couch and Kelly Holcomb than anyone else could.
Now he is at North Carolina, recruiting well above his mean and putting together some of the best teams on paper each and every season.
Yet, I just don't trust Davis.
To me, his teams never pass the eye test; they never quite seem to live up to all the hype.
Despite NFL-talent wide receivers, a deep backfield, a wily quarterback, and one of the best defensive linemen in the business, North Carolina cannot seem to get out of its own way.
I know they can beat the upper-echelon teams, but they can also lose to Virginia three straight seasons and stub their toe at unexpected times.
There are plenty of excuses people can make, and they all have merit. I know that the offensive line was beat up, and quarterback T.J. Yates himself was injured.
Sometimes a team gets unlucky. In truth, Davis seems to be a bit of a snake-bitten coach.
On the surface, there is so much to like about Coach Davis leading your team. Yet there is always a sense that despite all his strengths, the team will never reach its full potential.
Davis still has a losing record in the ACC, and he still has never finished better than third in his own division, let alone the conference. Even with the problems at Miami, his team had the first losing record at "The U" since 1979.
Yes, his replacement Larry Coker basically won the BCS championship with the team Davis had assembled. Yes, Davis was denied by the computer gods for a chance to do it himself.
Still, despite all the excuses, Davis simply cannot seem to finish the job.
Obviously a mediocre Davis team is usually better than what most other coaches can put out there, but it must be frustrating for a fanbase.
Can the stars align for Davis and company next season? If it does, it would be a first.
OK, kids, pop quiz.
Name the three current ACC coaches who have been with their program since at least 2001.
After the departure of Bobby Bowden and Al Groh, all that's left is Ralph Friedgen, Frank Beamer and Jim Grobe.
Building a program at Wake Forest is no simple task. Grobe has built his program around the redshirt philosophy.
His team has taken its lumps over the years, but they also saw their dream realized when they took home the ACC Championship in 2006. This accomplishment earned him the AP Coach of the Year award.
Since the ACC Championship game was installed, Wake Forest is one of only four teams to take the crown.
It also started a streak of three straight winning seasons for the Demon Deacons.
However, last season the Demon Deacons took a step back with their first losing record since 2005. With the departure of quarterback Riley Skinner, will they experience similar frustration in 2010?
Wake Forest has a contract with Grobe until 2016, and considering the position he is in, he can survive a few bad seasons.
He has built up goodwill, and he has banked his career around capitalizing on experience when the redshirts come of age in the ACC.
Coaching at a small school like Wake Forest is a difficult task not many can master. Grobe has the second-longest tenure of any football coach in school history, and he is one of only four coaches with a winning record there since 1900.
The man has proven that he knows what works at Wake Forest, and despite offers to leave he has stayed true. Demon Deacon fans would be foolish to not stay true to him.
People did not know what to make of Paul Johnson when he first arrived to Georgia Tech.
Would an option attack really work in the ACC?
How long would it take to implement?
Well, Johnson has proved to everyone that he can turn things around quickly, and the defending ACC Champions are looking for more success in 2010.
Despite an incredible amount of youth, in two years Johnson has defeated every single ACC team and arch-rival Georgia.
He has coached an ACC Player of the Year, an All-American, and he has recruited well, with players like Anthony Allen set to take over for early departures like running back Jonathan Dwyer and defensive end Derrick Morgan.
Indeed, 2010 will be an interesting year for the ACC's new golden boy. Can he continue his success without his leading defensive player, his top wide receiver, and a dynamic running back?
Johnson got a great coup in the hiring of former Virginia coach Al Groh to his staff as defensive coordinator. Defense has been the one bugaboo of the Johnson era, as we know he can recruit and coach up an offense.
We also know that defense is Groh's wheelhouse.
Will it result in long-term success? Can the program adjust to the 3-4 that had flashes of brilliance but overall mediocrity at Virginia?
If the answer is "yes" and Johnson continues his own seven-season bowl-eligible streak, he may one day challenge number one on our list.
Is there really any doubt?
Sure some of these new guys may one day surpass the Beamer, but it won't be today.
Beamer has the second-most wins in the entire NCAA for active coaches, behind only Penn State's Joe Paterno and tied with Ohio State's Jim Tressel.
Beamer has 11 10-win seasons to his credit to go along with six conference titles between the Big East and the ACC. No other coach on this list has more than two.
Virginia Tech has become the standard in ACC football, and it all revolves around Beamer and his staff. Every year they adjust to their personnel and find ways to win.
While other coaches have fallen to the wayside, Beamer sticks around. His 187 wins at Tech compares to 233 wins by all the other current ACC coaches combined at their current schools.
Sure, he has yet to win the ultimate prize, but he has helped put to bed those concerns fans had when he went 24-32-2 in his first five seasons at Blacksburg.
Sometimes patience is a virtue, boys and girls.