- Matt Fortuna, College Football
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The ACC has no shortage of established men on the sidelines -- from national champion Jimbo Fisher to active wins leader Frank Beamer. But what about the other guys, the ones who are overlooked? Let's take a look at five coaches -- head men and assistants -- who are underrated:
Boston College head coach Steve Addazio. Addazio has done nothing but excel since his arrival at BC prior to the 2013 season. He took a two-win program and went a surprising 7-6 in Year 1, turning running back Andre Williams into a Heisman Trophy finalist in the process. With major personnel losses, he went ahead and did the same this past fall, going 7-6 again on the back of Florida transfer quarterback Tyler Murphy. Addazio has BC playing with the big boys in the tough Atlantic Division, coming within a hair of upsetting powers Florida State and Clemson. And all along, he has insisted this was a five-year rebuilding plan. Makes you wonder what he'll do when he finally gets all of his recruits in the program.
Duke head coach David Cutcliffe. This one almost goes without saying. Rarely will the head coach of Duke football get too much credit. Such is life when your men's hoops program just won another national title. But Cutcliffe's work in turning the Blue Devils into a gridiron force is nothing short of miraculous. He walked into a terrible situation in 2008 and slowly but surely built the program from the ground up, culminating in a 10-win season and Coastal Division title in 2013. He followed that up in 2014 by going 9-4, and there's no sign of Duke letting up, though a bowl win is the next step for a program that continues to shatter expectations.
Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett. Those guys on the line of scrimmage always get overlooked, don't they? There's something to be said for stability, and Trickett has been among the best at his craft over a career that stretches 42 years long, with nine at FSU. The Vietnam War veteran has sent more than 30 players to the NFL and has coached more than 35 all-league players at a number of stops -- West Virginia, LSU and Auburn among them. On the Seminoles' 2013 national title team, all five offensive linemen earned all-league honors, and three earned All-America honors.
Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson. It's hard to remember that this guy was thought to be on the hot seat around this time a year ago. All Johnson has done since then is win the Coastal Division title, win league coach of the year honors and win the Orange Bowl in convincing fashion, the Yellow Jackets' 11th victory of the 2014 season. While Johnson earned an extension and widespread praise for his work in 2014, the campaign was not that out of the ordinary. Just read his comments to our Andrea Adelson last week about dealing with enhanced expectations. Johnson's approach has never wavered, but he's only beginning to see the national praise.
Virginia Tech secondary coach Torrian Gray. Gray made a name for himself as a safety at Virginia Tech in the mid-'90s, earning All-Big East honors three times and winning a pair of league titles. As he enters his 10th year on the Hokies' staff, Gray's work is too impressive to ignore. Sure, coordinator Bud Foster has been a staple in Blacksburg, but he has gotten his fair share of credit. Gray's defensive backs have been remarkably consistent, with Tech corners and safeties regularly dotting all-ACC and All-America teams. The Hokies have ranked in the top 25 in pass defense in six of Gray's nine seasons. They have ranked in the top 20 in pass efficiency defense in eight of his nine seasons, including four top-10 finishes. (And no worse than 28th.)
Boston College's Steve Addazio and Duke's David Cutcliffe are among the most underrated coaches in the ACC.