Clemson Football: Staff Departures Has Program at Crossroads

It’s finally official. Clemson has lost both coordinators.

Brent Venables is the new head coach at Oklahoma and Tony Elliott now takes over at Virginia. The continuity that has been such a huge part of the Tigers success in recent years is taking a big hit.

How much of one is yet to be determined. On top of those guys leaving, Venables is taking at least three support staff members with him, with Elliott likely to take some as well.

However, by all accounts, it appears that Dabo Swinney will do his best to maintain what continuity he can, though. While it might not be popular with some inside the fan base, it might be exactly what this program needs right now.

While no official announcements have been made, Swinney has reportedly told committed recruits that the plan on defense is for Wesley Goodwin and Mickey Conn to become co-defensive coordinators, with Goodwin calling the plays.

The term “promoting from within” has somehow taken on a negative connotation inside the fan base but why would you hire from the outside and bring in a whole new scheme, rather than promoting Venables right hand man, Goodwin, in an effort to maintain that same success on the defensive side of the ball.

Yes, the Tigers have lost three defensive recruits, but that was always going to happen. You can’t lose a guy like Venables and not expect some defections. Those guys are coming to Clemson, at least in part, to play for him and in his scheme. You can’t keep Venables, but you can at least try and keep what he’s built on defense going.

On the offensive side of the ball, it sounds like more of the same. Expect Brandon Streeter to be promoted to offensive coordinator, with Kyle Richardson moving from his off field role to an on-field staff member. Maybe as the passing game coordinator under Streeter and coaching the tight ends.

While that isn’t the splashy hire most want to see, Streeter has experience running his own offenses. He was offensive coordinator at Liberty (2009-11) and served in the same role at Richmond for three seasons (2012-14) before becoming a member of Swinney’s staff following the 2014 regular season. His resume isn’t that bad.

  • In 2010, Liberty averaged 36.5 points per game, a better mark than in 2009, when the Flames led the nation in scoring offense (36.4). That Liberty team won the Big South Conference title for a fourth straight year.
  • In 2011, Liberty led the Big South Conference in passing yards and pass efficiency.
  •  Richmond was seventh in the nation in passing yards (328) in 2013. Virtually every Richmond individual game, season and career school passing record was established during the 2013 season. The 2012 Richmond offense was 20th in passing offense and 21st in scoring offense.
  • Guided Richmond to a top-20 finish in passing offense each season from 2012-14. That included a 314-yard average, eighth-best in the nation, in 2014. The Spiders also averaged 461 yards per game, 19th-most in the nation, and were second in third-down conversion percentage (51.6) and third in first downs (332).
  • Six of the seven teams he worked with as an offensive coordinator between the 2008-14 seasons finished the year in the top 25 of the FCS poll. That included the 2014 Richmond team that entered the FCS playoffs ranked No. 16 in the nation. Five of the last eight teams were conference champions or co-champions.

Unfortunately, to many fans judge Streeter by the offensive performance in the loss to Ohio State. A game in which he found out two days ahead of time that he would be calling the plays, not mention calling those plays from Elliott’s notes and game plan. Swinney was also very likely heavily involved in play calling that game as well. It’s just to small of a sample size, not to mention the circumstances.

Having said all that, the program is no doubt at a crossroads. Swinney is facing one of the most difficult offseasons of his career. Maybe the most difficult. The staff has been raided, the 2022 recruiting class has taken a hit, and the roster is getting thin. It should make for an interesting few months in the upstate.

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