Like him or not, no one can deny Nick Saban’s greatness and legacy as a college football head coach. Assistant coaches of his need not invest in new home purchases; time shares will do because they won’t be in Alabama very long anyhow. Dabo Swinney, on the other hand, has enjoyed keeping together a staff of premier assistant coaches for years now.
Former defensive coordinator Brent Venebles had been in place with Clemson since the 2012 season, and led one of the most consistent and ferocious defenses in the country during his tenure. Now that he has moved on to Oklahoma, ACC offenses are breathing a collective sigh of relief.
Tony Elliott had helped lead the offense for Clemson since 2014. With the exception of the 2020 season, the Clemson offense has been one of the best in the country year in and out, with the ability to light up the scoreboard seemingly at will.
Offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell officially retired from his position on the team this year after being in that position since 2011. He will now move into an administrative role.
Athletic director Dan Radakovich announced his departure from the team back in December, and now defensive line Coach Todd Bates has announced he will move on to Oklahoma to join Venables’ staff. Oh and by the way, Bates was considered by many to be one of Clemson’s best recruiters.
So for the first time in his career, following the type of success that most only dream about, Swinney finds himself the last high level, tenured coach at Clemson. He has lost coaches before, but never as many in the same year. Not even close.
When you think about the great head coaches that have won multiple college football championships, few names come to mind. Clemson is now understanding why that is. It’s because once the staff attains a certain level of success, opposing teams are going to target those assistant coaches for higher level jobs.
Swinney always says “It’s about how you respond.” We will now get to see how the head coach responds to the adversity of having new faces at many different coaching positions on his team next year.
The good news is he has mentored and developed coaches within his program that afforded him the opportunity to promote from within. These coaches already know the program and understand the culture of Clemson, so that is certainly an advantage.
Time will tell how this plays out, but we as Clemson fans feel like it will work out pretty well. Nick Saban navigates these kinds of issues at least every other year it seems.
Swinney finally gets to have his “Nick Saban” moment and Clemson fans will hope that he will be all the better for it. He certainly has his work cut out for him with all the new coaches, players exiting via the transfer portal, and decommitments after the coaching departures. But if anyone is up to the task, Swinney is certainly the guy.
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