Man With a Plan: No panic in Swinney with loss of coaches

by - Senior Writer -
Bates spent three seasons at Jacksonville St. (Photo courtesy of Anniston Star)
Bates spent three seasons at Jacksonville St. (Photo courtesy of Anniston Star)

CLEMSON – When Marion Hobby bolted Clemson for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars shortly after Clemson’s win over Alabama in the National Championship, it took most people by surprise.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says he wasn’t caught off guard, and he didn’t panic.

“I always have a plan. There is nothing that really ever catches me off guard,” Swinney told the media last week. “I think if you are in this position and you get caught off guard you are probably not doing a very good job, and you are probably getting caught off guard in a lot of other areas, too. I always have a plan in that regard, and I am always thinking.”

Swinney actually dealt with the loss of two coaches in a short amount of time – longtime defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks announced his retirement shortly before Hobby headed to the NFL. Swinney moved quickly and brought in Mickey Conn, who will coach in the secondary.

When Hobby left, Swinney once again moved quickly and hired Todd Bates to coach the defensive line. Swinney hopes to add another coach in the spring when the NCAA passes legislation that will allow programs to hire a 10th coach.

“There is some legislation coming on board with the NCAA, and hopefully the 10th coach will pass here in a couple of months,” Swinney said. “We have kind of planned for that. I have had a plan in place for that for a while. Being able to get Mickey out on the field and out on the recruiting trail right now was critical. He is a younger Dan Brooks. He's coached high school ball a long time, and he really understands the recruiting process. He's been on the other side of it for many, many years. He is going to do a great job.

“And to be able to get that extra coach, I wanted to have two defensive line coaches and two secondary coaches. We will eventually get back to that. That is kind of where we were initially, because I had Hobby and he was going to handle the defensive line until we got a 10th coach, and then we could get back to having two defensive line coaches. Then this came up with Hobby. But I had a good plan on what direction I wanted to go.”

Bates recently completed his third season at Jacksonville St. He played for the Crimson Tide from 2001-2004 and graduated in 2005 with a degree in Business Management. While playing for the Crimson Tide, Bates was the only true freshman to play for the Tide in 2001. He was also selected SEC Defensive Player of the Week twice and named permanent team captain for the 2004 season.

“I've had my eye on Todd Bates for a while. I am really excited about the opportunity to bring him into the fold. He's going to be great. I did not know him at Alabama, and I didn't recruit him and had never met him until 2008. Right after I got the job here, I went and spoke at a quarterback club in Gadsden, and he was there. It was the first time I met him. And then I crossed paths with him over the years, and he's come and worked our camps three times.

“In fact, Dan Brooks called me over to the side about a year or so ago when he had his Achilles, and was sitting in a golf cart and couldn't really work the camp, and he made it a point to say, that guy right there is a special coach. I've gotten to know him really well. He is gifted. I love his age. He is about to be 34. He has a great family, and I think he can be big for us. He has coached the whole front, and I think he can handle that. He was an outstanding player, and he just fits and will bring great energy in all areas.”

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