Clemson Football: What You Need to Know About Tigers' 2012 Coaching Staff
Behind every great head coach is a strong support system to back him up.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban, for example, has coaches like defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, and LSU head coach Les Miles has coaches like defensive coordinator John Chavis.
Well, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney appears to have finally constructed the coaching staff he needs to succeed in the ACC and truly compete on the national level.
With the addition of Brent Venables as the new defensive coordinator, the Tigers now have the kind of coaching staff that will be pursued by opposing college programs. They are a staff that is gradually gaining more attention with Clemson's newfound success on the football field and in recruiting, having brought in two back-to-back top 10 recruiting classes, and possibly on the verge of bringing in a third.
On top of their improved play on the field and its recruiting prowess, what else should we know about this 2012 Tigers coaching staff?
If there's one thing that stands out about Dabo's current staff, it's their innovative ability.
Take, for example, second-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris.
In his first year as offensive coordinator, he has devised ways to get his best players on the field and given them the best situations to get the ball. Whether it's the Jet Sweep to take advantage of receiver Sammy Watkins' speed, or utilizing quarterback Tajh Boyd's arm to make downfield throws for their big target receiver Martavis Bryant, who he has best used as a big downfield threat, Morris has changed this offense into one of the most competitive in college football.
One thing that Dabo Swinney and his staff have done is excel in recruiting some of the best players in the country, and compete against the likes of teams like Alabama, LSU, Georgia and other top Division I programs.
This staff has had two straight top 10 recruiting classes, and could be well on their way to a third, especially after having nabbed the nation's No. 1 recruit in Robert Nkemdiche.
What makes Clemson such a great place to play? The campus life, the tradition and the success that Clemson has had being able to put players through to the NFL, especially its defensive linemen, make this coaching staff's job one that players find it hard to refuse.
This coaching is one that is hungry for Clemson success, and Swinney has brought a more driven, aggressive, yet energetic mindset to this Clemson team. And the players love to play for him and his staff.
After winning the ACC Championship after a twenty-year absence, they want more. And they're not letting up anytime soon. The intensity has picked up, the expectations are higher and standards are becoming set. This coaching staff expects to be at the top of the ACC year in and year out, and one of the best and competitive teams in college football, year in and year out.
If there's something Dabo Swinney has fixed, it's been the adaptability of this coaching staff.
Many can see it, and many may not see it, but offensive coordinator Chad Morris makes great in-game adjustments and great halftime adjustments depending on the situation. It's these kinds of abilities that have suddenly pushed him into the national spotlight as one of the best offensive minds in college football.
The same can be said for the rest of the coaching staff, such as putting Sammy Watkins on kick return duties in the middle of the season to give the Tigers a needed spark on special teams, and it paid off in their hard fought win against Maryland.
This staff is very flexible in how they want to run the show, and have proven themselves as arguably the best coaching staff in the ACC, and perhaps the nation.
One thing that coach Swinney has done during his three years at Clemson is construct his coaching staff with a perfect balance of experience and rising coaches that have, or had, yet to be completely recognized by the rest of college football.
One such coach includes defensive line coach Dan Brooks, who is well known as a great molder of defensive linemen while coaching at the University of Tennessee, having coached and sent a number of them to the NFL, with several first rounders such as Albert Haynesworth, Justin Harrell and Shaun Ellis. With Clemson already known for its strength in developing its defensive line, this makes Death Valley an enticing spot for any high school defensive lineman.
Other experienced headliners on the staff include Robbie Caldwell, who is well respected as one of the best offensive line coaches in the South and in college football, having coached football for over 33 years, Marion Hobby, who returned to the staff last season after the Tigers lost Rumph to the University of Alabama, defensive backs coach Charlie Harbison, who returned in 2009 after long treks at LSU, Alabama, Mississippi State, UTEP and Gardner Webb, and is best known for coaching one of Clemson's football greats in Brian Dawkins.