Conn and Richardson dive right in at Clemson practice
|Friday, March 25, 2016, 7:24 PM- -|
CLEMSON – Both of Clemson’s new football assistants have been at practice this week, and both coaches made it evident following Friday’s practice that they are not only happy to be at Clemson, they’re happy to be a part of what Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is building in the state’s foothills.
Loganville (GA) Grayson head coach Mickey Conn and Rock Hill (SC) Northwestern head coach Kyle Richardson accepted jobs on Swinney’s staff late last week. Conn will be working with the defense while Richardson will work with the offense.
Both coaches met with the media outside of the indoor practice facility following Friday afternoon’s practice – happily sporting orange and Tiger paws – and talked about what the opportunity means. For both, however, it was an opportunity that came as a surprise.
“Me and my 12-year-old son Brodey were driving home from baseball practice about three weeks ago, and I got a call on my phone,” Conn said. “I look down, and it's Coach Swinney calling, and I'm like, 'What in the world does he want?' I picked up the phone, and he said, 'Hey man, I've created a job, and I want to bring you up here to Clemson. What do you think?' I was just speechless. He said, 'Are you interested?' And I said, 'I'm definitely interested. Let me go home and talk to my wife Halie and my other son Spencer and Brody.' He said you've got some time so just sit there and think about it and pray about it and let me know. That's how it happened on a Tuesday or Wednesday night.”
Richardson had the same story, but it didn’t take him as long to make a decision.
“It came out of the blue. I got a phone call from Coach Swinney about two weeks ago, and he asked if I was interested in a position with Clemson football,” Richardson said. “Obviously, I said, 'Yes, sir,' and two days later he called me back and gave me all of the details of it. He told me he'd give me some time to think about it, and I said, 'I appreciate that. I'm in.' It took me less than sixty seconds to come to that decision.”
Conn detailed his responsibilities with the defense.
“He's (Swinney) created a job called the senior defensive assistant, and I'll be working directly with the defensive staff,” Conn said. “I'm not allowed to coach the players on the field, but I can help with the coaches, the game plan, the film work, things of that nature and give input. I can be another set of eyes to help Coach Swinney.”
Working with his friend Swinney makes it even more special for Conn.
“It's really special. Dabo is a dear friend. I played with him at Alabama, and I love him to death,” he said. “I'm really thankful for this opportunity that he's given me. I'm hoping I can give something back and help him.”
Like Conn, Richardson was wildly successful on the high school level, and he knew there was only one place that would make him leave Northwestern.
“For years, I was asked after winning the state championship, 'When are you going to leave?' I always said that there was only one place that I would leave for and one guy that I would leave for and that's Coach Swinney,” Richardson said. “And that's for Clemson football just because of the way it matches up philosophy wise of what I like to do with our program at Northwestern off the field and the what Coach Swinney has done with 'All In' on the field. It was an easy decision to come and join this with what they do off the field and then you get to join another championship style football program.”
Richardson is known for his “Air Raid” offense, but he said he’s merely trying to fit in with Clemson’s offensive staff and learn all there is to know.
“I'm just sitting in on all of the meetings and trying to learn as much as I can. This is an offense here that is not broke,” he said. “It definitely does not need to be fixed. I'm excited to be learning a new offense. A lot of the scheme and systems are really similar to what I've been in. It's just obviously on a different level, so I'm excited about learning that and being with a new group of guys and the family that's here. Every time I get introduced to somebody, they say, 'Hey, welcome to the family.'”