Lovett Brings Aggressive Defense to Clemson


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - John Lovett's first meeting with the Clemson press came off without
a hitch, though it did contain one brief moment of unexpected levity.


Lovett, who officially was hired as the school's new defensive coordinator
Thursday, had all but wrapped up his initial teleconference when a final
question was fired his way.


"Is everything on your resume correct?," the reporter asked amid much
laughter.


Lovett never blinked.


"Two days ago there was apparently a typo on when I actually started school,"
he said with a slight chuckle. "But I think if you all figure out I graduated
high school at a certain date, I couldn't have been in college until the year
after that. But other than that I think everything is fine."


Clemson and its fans hope the Lovett hiring is more than fine.


After a three-week search in which at least two other candidates - John
Thompson of Arkansas and Steve Dunlap of Syracuse - turned down head coach
Tommy Bowden's job offer, Bowden settled on Lovett to replace former
defensive coordinator Reggie Herring, who left Clemson in early Jan. for the
same position at Mississippi.


Lovett, 51, had resigned under pressure in Jan. after four years as Auburn's
defensive coordinator. After finishing No. 14 in the country in total defense
in 2000, Lovett's squad allowed 29 or more points in Auburn's five losses in
2001.


He and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone were asked to resign by Auburn head
coach Tommy Tubberville following the Tigers' loss to North Carolina in the
Peach Bowl. Lovett had been with Tubberville for seven years - the last four
at Auburn and the previous three at Mississippi.


"It's been a very tumultuous month," Lovett said. "Anytime you make a change
there's a little bit of uncertainty as to what your next travel is going to
be. I wasn't sure exactly how things were going to work out, (but) I was very
confident they were going to work out. There were numerous things on the
table, but I had to be patient to try and work things through."


Lovett said his first contact with Bowden came "two weeks, maybe 10 days" ago
via telephone. That ultimately led to an on-campus interview and to the job
offer and acceptance which was announced Thursday.


"John has a wealth of experience coaching all aspects of defense," Bowden
said in a statement. "When you look at Auburn's win over Florida and what
they were able to do with Florida's offense it certainly catches your eye. No
defense held the Gators in check
like John's did this past year....His defense was a big reason they won the
Western Division of the SEC (in 2000)."


Lovett inherits a defense which finished No. 71 in the nation in 2001,
allowing 390 yards per game, 226 of it through the air.


But with 18 of the top 22 returning - including several talented rising
sophomores and juniors - Lovett will have some talent with which to work. How
quickly he can bring them along remains to be seen.


"I've only been able to look at a little bit of Clemson film," he said. "So
we're going to go back and look more in-depth at the personnel situation here
on film and kind of marry (my philosophy) with what they have here.


"But I can assure you it will be a multiple look, and we'll be very
aggressive on defense."


Lovett said he will coach a position, though at this point he wasn't sure
which one. His background is coaching both linebackers and secondary.
Speculation is Lovett will take over the secondary and move Jack Hines to
linebackers.


"We'll talk about that right after recruiting gets over," Lovett said.

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