- Kevin Gemmell, College Football
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Within the friendly confines of the Pac-12 conference, there aren't many coaches who are underappreciated. In fact, almost every coach -- head or otherwise -- has a healthy respect for their opponent. At least, so I've been told.
Nationally, however, there are some names that the rest of the college football world doesn't know but probably should.
In alphabetical order, here are five Pac-12 coaches who are underappreciated nationally.
Tee Martin, wide receivers coach, USC: Most people remember his playing days with Tennessee, but since 2012, he's coached a Biletnikoff winner and a couple of watch-list candidates. His first year, Marqise Lee won the award for the nation's top receiver, hauling in 118 catches for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns. The receiving game slipped a bit in 2013 (let's face it, there was sort of a lot going on at USC that year), but Martin coached up Nelson Agholor to 104 catches for 1,313 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. Now he's got an exciting group to work with in 2015, including JuJu Smith and dual-threat Adoree' Jackson.
Noel Mazzone, offensive coordinator, UCLA: As Jim Mora tells the story, when he was filling out his staff after being hired, he looked at Mazzone's offense on film and wondered, “How would I begin to stop that?” That's how he decided to hire his offensive coordinator. The Bruins rank in the top 20 nationally in points scored and total yards for the past three seasons while going 29-11 over that stretch. He's worked with Philip Rivers, Tim Tebow, Brock Osweiler and, most recently, Brett Hundley. It will be interesting to see how UCLA's quarterback competition plays out under his watch.
Mike Norvell, offensive coordinator, Arizona State: Pac-12 fans know him, but fans across the country probably don't. But they should, because pretty much every head coach in America knows about him. It's been well-documented that he turned down the Auburn OC gig to stay with Todd Graham. But schools from pretty much every Power 5 conference (and an independent that wears gold on its head) have also pursued him. Over the past three years, only Oregon has scored more points and only nine other teams nationally have put up more points over that stretch. Remember the name because he'll probably be running his own shop sooner rather than later.
Rod Smith, co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Arizona: For the first time since joining Rich Rodriguez's staff prior to the 2012 season, Smith is going to get something he's never had in three seasons -- a returning quarterback. When you consider the Wildcats have had three quarterbacks in three seasons, it's impressive that all three years, the Wildcats have ranked in the upper half of the league in scoring offense -- including top five two years. Now that he's going to have Anu Solomon to work with for another year, it will be interesting to follow his development under Smith's tutelage from Year 1 to 2.
Kyle Whittingham, head coach, Utah: It wasn't too long ago that this guy was coaching the Utes to a 13-0 record and a blowout win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl -- for which he was honored as the national coach of the year. He fell under the radar nationally as he transitioned his team from the Mountain West to the Pac-12. No easy task when you consider some of the challenges: new recruiting approach, dealing with less revenue sharing for the first couple of seasons, undergoing facility upgrades, etc. But the Utes have started to turn the corner, having spent time in the Top 25 last season while still playing in the Pac-12 South, one of the toughest divisions in college football. He's 8-1 in bowl games, which is tied with John Robinson for best winning percentage for any coach in NCAA history (.889). As he enters his 11th season, he probably doesn't get the national recognition he deserves.
Nationally, there are some names of Pac-12 coaches the rest of the college football world doesn't know but probably should.