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Clemson OC Tony Elliott Reportedly Agrees to Become Next Virginia Head Coach

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 10, 2021

CLEMSON, SOUTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 30: Clemson Tigers offensive coordinator Tony Elliott looks on before their game against the Florida State Seminoles at Clemson Memorial Stadium on October 30, 2021 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott has reportedly accepted an offer to become the new head football coach at Virginia.

ESPN's Chris Low reported Friday that Elliott informed the Cavaliers of his decision following "a day of deep thought."

It's the first head coaching opportunity for the 42-year-old California native, who won the Broyles Award in 2017 as college football's top assistant coach.

Elliott joined the Clemson football team as a walk-on freshman in 1999. He appeared in 44 games as a wide receiver and served as a co-captain for the Tigers as a senior in 2003.

His coaching career started as a wide receivers coach at South Carolina State in 2006. He also made a stop at Furman (2008-10) in the same role before returning to the Tigers as a running backs coach in 2011.

Elliott held various roles across his decade on the Clemson staff. Most recently, he'd been serving as the team's assistant head coach and tight ends coach in addition to his work as offensive coordinator.

He was courted by Tennessee during last year's coaching carousel before deciding to remain with the Tigers.

"But at the end of the day, it just wasn't the right time," Elliott told reporters in March. "Man, I'm just so happy to be here, you guys know I love it here. It's a special place."

Now he'll head to Virginia, where he'll be a direct competitor of Dabo Swinney and Co. in the ACC, though the programs are in opposite divisions.

Meanwhile, the Cavs' search for a head coach began last week when Bronco Mendenhall announced he was stepping down after the team's bowl game. UVA has since been selected to face off with SMU in the Fenway Bowl on Dec. 29.

"I would love to say there's been this buildup and a long amount of epiphanies and thought, but clearly this week there was a sense of clarity to me that I needed to step back from college football and reassess, renew, reframe and reinvent, with my wife as a partner, our future and the next chapter of our lives," Mendenhall said.

Virginia has compiled a 36-38 record across Mendenhall's six-year tenure.

Elliott's first order of business after getting his staff in place will likely be trying to upgrade the Cavaliers' 2022 recruiting class, which currently ranks eighth in the ACC with no 5-star prospects and one 4-star recruit, according to 247Sports.

In the bigger picture, he represents a high-upside hire for the Cavs, but it may take a couple years to get the program back in contention for a conference title.