Change Clemson: Swinney navigates coaching staff changes


BY PETE IACOBELLI
The Associated Press

CLEMSON – Clemson’s coach Dabo Swinney has continued to receive calls and texts from friends and colleagues asking how he was doing over the past two weeks.

Swinney and his championship football schedule have undergone a reshuffle unlike anything he has faced in over 13 seasons as Tigers coach. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables left to become a head coach in Oklahoma. Offensive leader Tony Elliott is now Virginia’s head coach and athletic director Dan Radakovich has left Clemson to take on the same role in Miami.

All trusted confidants, all significant contributors to Clemson’s success over the past decade.

“Trust me,” Swinney said. “We’re going to be fine.”

It remains to be seen.



Much of the credit for Clemson’s streak of six consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference titles from 2015-2020 and national championships after the 2016 and 2018 seasons has been his stability.

Venables was hired from Oklahoma after the 2011 season and built one of the best defenses in the country for a decade.

Elliot, a former Clemson player under then-receiver coach Swinney in 2003, joined the team as an offensive assistant 10 years ago and became coordinator after the departure of Chad Morris in 2014. The Tigers’ offense averaged over 500 yards per game in five of seven seasons under Elliott.

Radakovich arrived in Clemson in 2012 and was a driving force behind the $ 55 million football headquarters, which, when it opened in 2017, was considered the state of the art in college football.

Swinney has said he will miss working with them, but understands their choices.

“The continuity is excellent,” said the coach. “I like the continuity, but the new opportunities are also great. “

Swinney believes his new football coordinators – offensive leader Brandon Streeter and defensive co-coordinators Wesley Goodwin and Mickey Conn, who have all spent years with the Tigers – will keep Clemson moving forward.

Roddy Jones, college football analyst for the ACC Network, said Swinney’s hiring track record over the past decade should give him some breathing space to see how things turn.



Clemson, Jones said, will still have the most ACC talent coming in next season and will likely be the favorite for the 2022 league crown after missing the Conference Trophy for the first time since 2014.

“It’s good for them to have a year where things weren’t all like this,” Jones said.

Clemson was No. 3 in the preseason standings and then out of the Top 25 at the end of September after losses to Georgia and North Carolina State. The Tigers, ranked 19th (9-3; No.19 CFP) have won seven of eight wins and will look to play their 11th straight 10-game season when they face Iowa State (7-5) at Cheez- It Bowl in Orlando. , Florida later this month.

While Swinney, 52, has embraced the change in his staff, he is unhappy with the national landscape, especially the player transfer rules. He has long been against overhauled guidelines, including giving undergraduate transfers a unique opportunity to play immediately at their new school.

Clemson has seen several players, including former starters from running back Lyn-J Dixon and wide receiver Frank Ladson, enter the portal this season.

“It’s total chaos right now,” Swinney said this week. “Forgery galore. Children are manipulated. The grass is greener and all that instead of working and getting a degree. There is no consequence. “

“No consequence,” Swinney continued, “is equal to no conscience.”

Swinney advocated forcing subclasses to sit down one season after switching programs and revert to that lost year after graduation.



Retaining the player is only one concern among all the changes.

Recruiting is where Clemson must quickly prove he can be successful with his new staff, Jones said. The Tigers suffered three high-profile defensive pullouts after Venables left.

“Recruitment is going so fast,” noted the ACC analyst.

Clemson signed 12 players on Wednesday early in the signing period, second to North Carolina in the ACC rankings according to 247sports.com. The Tigers’ highest-ranked player who has signed so far is defensive back Jaedyn Lukus of Mauldin, South Carolina, ranked 48th best prospect, according to ESPN.com.

“There are always consequences to change,” Swinney said.

The coach doesn’t worry about worrying about anyone outside of his schedule.

“There’s no one who has more at stake than Coach Swinney. He’s my livelihood. It’s what I do for a living,” Swinney said. “If people don’t believe in me after 13 years of their experience in Clemson, they’ll never believe in me.”

Still, the coach knows, it often comes down to what you’ve been doing lately.


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