When Dabo was instructed to make changes to his staff last December, we knew he’d have little choice in keeping Andre Powell (thanks to his mouth) and Billy Napier around another season in Tigertown, but we didn’t know who he’d pick to install and run another system. After Maryland axed Friedgen, he expressed considerable interest in the Clemson job, and so naturally with his extensive NFL and OC experience, plus his continued ability to beat us with less talent, we all gravitated towards him.
I thought at the time that there was no way Dabo would bring a coach with Friedgen’s offensive experience and pedigree on his staff. Dabo had meddled in the offense to such a point last year that we had become a hodgepodge of plays with no conscious thought process other than "Hey, I saw ____ run this last week, lets try it!" Bringing on an experienced OC who worked in the NFL to a staff with a WR coach-turned HC is a disaster waiting to happen for Swinney. Fridge would tell Dabo to STFU when he meddled in a play call, or he’d quit midseason. Napier didn’t have much choice but to endure, but Fridge has his reputation solidified and could find another job at the same level pretty quickly.
But one has to admit whether you wanted Friedgen here or not, that bringing on Fridge was the safest move for Swinney to make. Barring the argument I just laid out against hiring him, it would’ve been the smartest move to make. Had Swinney been established here already, it may have been the move he chose. Fridge has long had my respect as an offensive coach and Tiger fans would all admit that he gives us fits almost every time we face him. A similar argument could be applied to Rich Rodriguez. There’s no question that the offense would improve under their watch, and for most Clemson fans this is all that they wanted to see. If the defense played at a similar level and the offense improved, wins would surely follow.
But Dabo did none of these things. He wisely decided to pick a coach who would run the spread that he unwisely rammed down Napier’s throat. However, as I expected, he hired a coach who wouldn’t necessarily outshine him on the staff in terms of experience: former HS coach and 1 year Tulsa OC Chad Morris. He interviewed TCU’s Justin Fuente, who also gave us fits, but the job was Morris’ to lose.
If that isn’t risky, I don’t know what is. He handed the keys to his job to a coach who had been out of High School coaching for one year. It can work, and has before for more cases than just Gus Malzahn, but there have been other coaches who completely dominated HS ranks that moved up to college and got destroyed. We helped take one out last year – North Texas’ Todd Dodge was a force at Southlake Carroll HS, compiling a 98-11 record, and he was fired midseason by UNT, finishing his term at 6-37.
Meanwhile, the Head Cheerleader is 19-15 in 2.5 years as head of
Central Spirit Clemson’s football program and just put up the 1st losing season since 1998, and the first back-to-back losses to Sakerlina in my lifetime. If he put up another losing season and lost to SC again, he knows his ass would be outta here and he’d be selling some local real estate pretty quickly.
But the hire could turn out to save his coaching career. If Dat Boy stays out of Morris’ way, which seems to have been the case this spring, and focuses on game decisions and recruiting, he could win. If Mike Sherman remains at Texas A&M, we could conceivably keep Chad Morris for a longer period of time and actually win something here for a change.
That would be nice.