Thoughts on Napier, Powell, and Chad Morris

Theres been a ton of debating on whats next for Clemson's offense with the firing of Napier and Powell. Everybody worries "are we gonna be a spread team?" or "what about the recruits?"

As for the second, you just need to worry about finding good coaches, then the recruits will come. Our facilities are (hopefully, with the IPF) getting to a level where just about any idiot can sell Clemson well. The last decade has proven that you cannot outrecruit incompetent coaches. We can't even develop the ones we have now, so worrying about a coach leaving or being fired and his affect on the commitment is pointless. I fully expect to lose one or two, simply because it always happens, and I expect to steal one or two because that also always happens. If a player commits to the school and the head coach, and is 100% with that commitment, he won't flip. If he's looking for a way out of his commitment, this is just impetus to go and he wasn't really committed in the first place. So I'm not even going to worry about it. Find me a coach who can get the best out of the Top 25 talent we have on campus now please.

Now for Napier.....

People complain Napier was promoted to OC without any experience running an offense, well Duh thats how it usually goes everywhere. Everybody starts out as a GA and moves up. The problem is who he is taking control of this offense from and who is really changing his calls to match a different philosophy from his own.

I said last year when it came up about Swinney changing calls that Napier would be the fall guy no matter what, because the fans immediately place blame on the offense/defense performance on the coordinators, particularly when one side of the ball is doing well. I said it again this season, and here we are.

Clemson's games should show any of you who understand football strategy that there are two minds in the playcalling. Our offense looked different pre-Maryland last year. It looked different again to start this season, and has further progressed away from that. That is proof that there is some derision in regards to offensive philosophy. There is no doubt in my mind that Swinney is either directing the offense the way he wants it in the game, or is dictating Billy call more 3-4 WR sets on Monday in the game prep.  One man would have this offense shifted one way or the other, you can win with the I-formation and you can win with the spread. What matters is continuity in the instruction of the offense and carrying practice over to the game and being committed to ONE philosophy.

We don't do that. We look like shit on Saturday, so I'd be willing to bet we look like shit every day in practice. The most telling thing to me on tape, no matter who is calling plays, is fundamentals. We have none. Thats down to fundamental coaching minutes in practice, which can be a substantial part of each day's hours. We don't exert the effort, so changes must be made whether Billy is really at fault or not. Kyle Parker's fundamentals are not there, and neither are Boyd's. Billy is the QB coach. So do we support Napier's firing? Yes, changes must be made and Dabo made them. Do I think Billy Napier got a raw deal? Yes.

Look at this situation from your own perspective. Do you want to be held responsible for work you didn't screw up at  your job? Lets say you are a fairly new hire at your company, and through retirement or whatever, you got quickly promoted because there was no one else to do the job. Your boss gives you an important assignment or project to manage. You stumble along the way and have no one with experience in that job to turn to for help. You figure it out and start doing things right for awhile, and then your boss comes in and shits all over your project, demanding this and that and then goes and changes your reports to fit his thinking. You were doing an average job on it, and he messes it up further because he doesn't agree with your conclusions. The customer sees the end result of his meddling and is pissed, refusing further support, and then your boss fires you so he looks good.

Thats about how I see this whole thing, but with the fundamentals not there, I cannot defend Napier. I'm holding both he and Dabo responsible for that lack of attention to details. That is, in part, why I would've let Billy go.

The other is that the Coach must have a philosophical continuity with his staff, or at least let them coach what they know best. Swinney wants a blitzing pressure defense, and got Steele for that reason. He wanted to throw the ball around, and promoted a guy who would prefer to run the ball and use play-action. He let him do that post-Maryland last year and then changed it all up this year. Wrong move. In his next hire, he must pick a guy who he agrees with philosophically, and then let him do his job. If he then meddles and sticks in some stupid reverse or flea-flicker with a guy who doesn't like teaching such gimmicks, it'll crash and burn once again. I'll guarantee that.

That is one reason why I don't think Ralph Friedgen is really a candidate, though he really wants this job. Friedgen is pro-style, with great experience running offenses. Dabo wants none of that.

Dabo also isn't going to hire anyone who is a threat to him. An established coach can hire former head coaches to his staff easily. Bobby Williams works for Saban, who followed him at Michigan State. Mike Archer (LSU) works for Tom O'Brien. Galen Hall (Florida) works for Joe Pa. That doesn't work so well for a younger guy who is fighting to keep his job. Rich Rodriguez is relatively young, has great experience as an OC and HC, and can recruit, so he's a definite no. Fridge will run an NFL-style system, was just Coach of the Year, and will want full control of the offense as well, so he's a definite no.

Dabo isn't going to hire an older established guy who will tell him to shut the hell up when Dabo calls a single Pistol play that was repped 10x in practice all year. He wants control of the offensive side. If he hired either RF or RR, they'd quit in a year.

So that means you're going to get a relatively younger coach without a ton of experience to outshine Dabo's lack thereof. I think the hiring of inexperienced (or just plain bad, in Powell's case) staff members is what got us into this whole mess in the first place, but thats what we'll get.

I don't have an opinion yet on Chad Morris, the first name to be dropped and interviewed. This could be no different than hiring Bobby Bentley to OC. I don't care about his stats in HS or the one year at Tulsa. If you try to tell me that Texas HS football = Div 1-AA, or even that 1-A Texas A&M wanted him, all I need to do is mention Todd Dodge. Todd Dodge won 4 5-A State titles in 7 years at Southlake Carroll, coaching Chase Daniel and Greg McElroy, and bombed at North Texas, going 6-37. He got fired a few weeks into this year.

I am NOT saying that Morris will do better or worse, or that he'd be an awful hire, but success at HS does not guarantee any of it will carry over to BCS football. I will say that usually a coach who excels in HS is a really good teacher, because you don't have time to teach kids (who may have known nothing pre-9th grade) too many complex schemes in HS football. You give them simple reads and it lets them make decisions quickly, which bodes well for Tajh Boyd. I would not be worried about stunting any development.

Hiring Morris could be like hiring the next Malzahn, I don't know. I will say what I think does matter in the stats he has put up at Tulsa, and thats the improvement from the year before. I have respect for the program they run there at Tulsa since Kragthorpe put it together (though he sucked at Louisville), they always seem to find guys to coach that fit their personnel, which I believe is as good as or better than the rest of their conference. I think Todd Graham is a good coach. They can out-athlete the teams on their schedule much of the time. Morris did do well there, and improved the offense considerably. Improvement over time tells me the coach is doing things right. What I want to see when I watch film on Tulsa for the rest of this week is how they are at fundamentals and whether the team improved each week of the season. That will tell me whether this is a good hire, not his scheme or stats.

The little things are what we don't do right. That is what will tell me if this is a good hire. I advise everyone to trust their own eyes before statistics. Statistics are an indicator, not proof of success. Rob Spence should've taught you that.

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