CLEMSON — With great success comes great opportunities in the coaching world. All you have to do is look to the Alabama Crimson Tide for proof.
In fact, Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban has sent 15 former staffers to the NFL or NCAA as head coaches and that number is about to increase. Current offensive coordinator Mike Locksley is to become the head coach at the University of Maryland.
The normal progression for assistant coaches is to serve under a head coach until an opportunity arises to become a head coach, then bid that current job adieu and begin a head-coaching career. That is unless you work for Dabo Swinney.
After having the names of all three coordinators (co-offensive coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott and defensive coordinator Brent Venables) mentioned heavily for head-coaching opportunities in each of the last two seasons, Swinney has managed to keep his staff intact because of the loyalty and family atmosphere he has built at Clemson.
“I’ve got a great job. I’ve got great loyalty and appreciation for the people that are responsible for me being here, the players, coach Swinney, Dan Radakovich, our administration, our fellow coaches,” Venables said. “I would never compromise the integrity of my job for other opportunities. Ever. Ever. That’s not who I am. Just so people understand where I’m at right now, my son Jake is here and he’s chasing a dream. I sold this dream to him. My responsibility as a dad is to support it as long as he wants to chase his dreams. Who am I to be a hypocrite, regardless of what opportunities are out there? That’s how I look at it.”
Elliott, whose name had been mentioned in conjunction with the Georgia Tech opening, said he unequivocally had not been contacted by any other team regarding openings, and further stated that his sole focus in on the Clemson Tigers.
“I haven't had any contact from anybody. I'm a Clemson Tiger and I'm not going to be a distraction to anybody,” Elliott said. “I’m focused on helping these young men. I’ve got an unbelievable situation and my family is happy here. Obviously, if it's the Lord’s time, he'll provide an opportunity, but right now I'm solely focused on Clemson football.
“I hate the speculation that does get out there because it does create a distraction. I’m locked in on the Tigers and I don't know what the future holds.”
In the midst of preparing for a fourth straight appearance in the College Football Playoff and seeking a second national title, Elliott understands that rumors are a part of the nature of the job.
But you will not find him using his platform as the coordinator for one of the nation’s top offenses to promote himself.
“I'm not a poster on social media. I have to use social media to interact with recruits but I don't promote myself and I don't get on social media,” Elliott said. “I just keep things simple. At the end of the day, Coach (Swinney) talks all the time that you've got to bloom where you're planted and I'm just enjoying the moment.
“I know from past experience that the grass is not always greener on the other side. I've got a great group of running backs. I've got unbelievable young men that are fully committed and it would be selfish of me to preach to them to be committed and I'm out here not being committed, so that's how I keep my focus because when I look at those guys in my room, I know that they are committed and they're expecting the same out of me.”
Venables also confirmed that he is not actively using his position to further his career because he understands just how good he has it under Swinney’s leadership.
"I’ve said many times that I’m very thankful and appreciative of what I have and very aware of what I have," Venables said. "I’ve never tried to leverage one situation for another. Ever. I would never try to prostitute myself. If I’m worthy of something, then let the powers that be decide. You want to be valued. You want to be appreciated. To me I get more out of that than anything, and to me I have it all here at Clemson.
“The success of our players, our team, our offense, coach Swinney, the leadership, the byproduct of that is success for all of us. And so that’s part of the profession that we live in. Managing it is pretty simple to me. You do have representation that handles a lot of stuff, and you give them guidance about how to handle certain things. But I’ve always had a be-here-now mentality and never tried to have multiple hats in the ring.”