Coaching carousel: As rivals scramble for next coach, Clemson is out recruiting
|Friday, December 8, 2017, 12:01 PM- -|
Round and round they go, where they will stop nobody knows.
The coaching carousel has been awhirl over the last month as head coaching jobs have come open at places like Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida, Florida St., Oregon, Arizona St., Miss. St., Nebraska, and UCLA among others.
Coordinators across the country are changing jobs, staffs are undergoing almost constant turnover. And, for the third straight season, Alabama head coach Nick Saban is losing a coordinator before the College Football Playoffs begin.
Down at South Carolina, Clemson’s arch-rival, head coach Will Muschamp fired offensive coordinator Kurt Roper and there are rumors of other changes. Perhaps Muschamp is feeling the heat – South Carolina’s window to make some noise in the shaky SEC East might have just slammed shut with Dan Mullen’s move to Florida and Jeremy Pruitt moving to Tennessee. Add in Kirby Smart making the playoffs in his second season at Georgia, and South Carolina now has even tougher road to division relevance.
At Florida St., Jimbo Fisher and members of the Seminole athletic department toured Clemson’s new football operations center in November. Fisher came out of the tour looking for a way to get out of Tallahassee, tired of asking for ways to compete against Dabo Swinney, Clemson’s facilities and the Clemson coaching staff. He found his “out” in the form of Texas A&M after the Aggies fired Kevin Sumlin.
Florida St. moved quickly, hiring Willie Taggart, putting the Florida St. program further behind Clemson.
Meanwhile, three of Swinney’s assistants were mentioned for various openings around the country but it appears the staff will remain intact for another year. In college football, the kind of staff continuity that Swinney has at Clemson is almost unheard of.
In today’s greedy, what have you done for me lately landscape, coaches seem to change jobs once every two or three seasons. If you find a staff that genuinely likes being around each other, likes working together and are also dang good coaches, you have the makings of a winner.
Remember when Swinney was the new guy in the ACC? He is now one of the “deans” of ACC football coaches. Both Paul Johnson of Georgia Tech and David Cutcliffe at Duke took their jobs before the 2008 season. During the 2008 season, Swinney replaced Tommy Bowden and took over as permanent head coach after the regular season.
Swinney has been at Clemson since 2003, however, making him the longest-tenured coach at one school in the conference. Tight ends coach Danny Pearman made his return to Clemson in December of 2008, co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott returned to Clemson in 2011 and co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott made his return to Clemson in 2008. All three played at Clemson. Another former Clemson player, Brandon Streeter, returned as quarterbacks coach in December of 2014.
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables came to Clemson from Oklahoma after the 2011 season, offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell came to Clemson in 2011 after spending the 2010 season as the head coach at Vanderbilt and secondary coach Mike Reed came to Clemson after the 2012 season.
That’s a lot of coaches who have played at Clemson and coached at Clemson for a lot of years. They have built their own recruiting territories, they’ve built relationships across the country and they all seem to have a few things in common – they like working for Swinney and they like being at Clemson.
Venables could write his own ticket out of Clemson. Everybody knew that former offensive coordinator Chad Morris would be at Clemson only as long as it took him to get the next job, and that’s not a bad thing. Morris has ambition, and he wanted to run his own program. When SMU called, Morris jumped at the chance, and when Arkansas came calling earlier this week he took the job.
Venables has remained at Clemson – after turning down Arkansas no less – and continues to say that his loyalty to Swinney and Clemson win out over a bigger payday and the chance to call his own shots.
Want to know why Clemson is in the playoff a third consecutive year? The players have a lot to do with it, but staff continuity can’t be overlooked.
As the rest of the country sits on the carousel and whirls out of control, some jumping on and off with abandon, Swinney and his staff are out recruiting the next wave of college football playoff performers.
Round and round they go.