From baseball to football, Tony Elliott happy staying at home in Clemson
|Thursday, March 4, 2021, 8:01 AM- -|
Tony Elliott works long hours during the fall and spring, and there are days when he is a little later making it home than your typical 9-to-5 working dad. But even when he isn’t home sometimes, he knows where can find his two sons, Ace and AJ, and that’s working on their baseball swings at the neighborhood tennis court with Clemson baseball assistant coach Bradley LeCroy.
That’s just one of the reasons Elliott isn’t chasing a head coaching job and can wait on the perfect opportunity.
LeCroy and head coach Monte Lee live in Elliott’s neighborhood, but it’s LeCroy who has a close relationship with Elliott, and when his baseball duties allow, he’s got the two families together, working on baseball fundamentals and hitting tennis balls.
It’s just a small piece of what Elliott calls the “quality of life” in Clemson that keeps him in place.
“Coach Swinney has created an unbelievable model from a family perspective. To see how he has been able to raise his boys, and he has proven that at the end of the day what is most important is the quality of life,” Elliott said. “For me, it's more about everything else than it is the football piece. And that is something I have learned through my relationship with coach Swinney.”
Elliott was mentioned as a candidate for the head coaching job at Tennessee and spent time in conversations with athletic director Danny White. White, who left UCF for Tennessee, eventually hired his former head coach in Josh Heupel to run the Volunteer program. Elliott’s name then came up for the job at UCF, but for now he’s happy to remain at Clemson.
“I thought I had made it through unscathed and then the situation came up with Tennessee. I am really appreciative of Danny White and his interest in me and having an opportunity to talk to him and go through that experience,” Elliott said. “That was something I had to sit down and pray about and consider and talk to people and find the right confirmation. At the end of the day, when I put everything on the table, it just wasn't the right time. I am just so happy to be in an environment where people embrace me even though I was going through that and showing me support in one way or another.
“And having the opportunity to have those conversations with Coach Swinney just strengthens our relationship even more. But at the end of the day it just wasn't the right time and I am just so happy to be here. You know I love it here and it's a special place. At the end of the day, Tennessee is a great program and it's an honor to be considered, but it wasn't the right time.”
What is Elliott looking for in a program?
“In trying to really stick to my guns, I am looking for alignment and the same vision top to bottom, whether it's the president or the chancellor that runs the institution, down to the head coach,” Elliott said. “Everybody is on the same page when it comes to the perspective of the student-athlete and what their mission is with the student-athlete and how the program is going to be run. An opportunity to win. There are going to be high expectations wherever I go because of where I am leaving. And I want to be in the situation where the people that I bring - because it's going to be hard work whenever the Lord does decide to open that door - so I want to be in a position where we have a legitimate opportunity to win. I want to be in the situation ideally where I don't have to move, to move.
“I want to be in a situation where I can hunker down and really fully invest in the community and fully invest in the institution and fully invest in the program. I want to build something special and have my family grow up in that community, very similar to how coach Swinney is. And the opportunity to recruit. Bottom line, an opportunity to win and win the right way and have the full support of everybody that touches that program.”