Charlie Harbison accepted the same position at Auburn this weekend to work for his close friend Ellis Johnson, who took the DC job there this week as well under Gus Malzahn.
After this seasons issues in the secondary grew worse, and the overall decline of the secondary's fundamentals over his term here, it was obvious that a change needed to be made at the DB coach position and Harbison's acceptance of the job means that Dabo won't have to fire a friend.
We have already called for his firing and would again in the forthcoming DB Position Review. We have thought long and hard over Harbison's problems and the secondary problems that have steadily grown worse in his time here. On the one hand, Cheese is a solid recruiter for Clemson, and has put Corners in the league here.On the other, the marked decline in any fundamentals from the defensive backs, and his focus on hybrid CB/S players leaves us with too many guys who cannot change directions well enough in space to ever play a true cover corner spot.
However, he was saddled with Alabama recruiting, where we never get great players, and wasn't given territory from Shelby to Charlotte, where he is originally from. Instead, the areas were given to Dan Pearman and a little to Brooks. Why Jeff Scott and Dabo made this decision baffles us. I'd have had Cheese carrying Charlotte and Atlanta. This has contributed to him not pulling in the great players that he did early on in his tenure.
We've defended CH before several times, and for good reason. He has put guys in the league. Last year, when the wheels were coming off the defense, it was also obvious that they had issues with the complexity of Steele's coverage packages. Even going back to Gilchrist and DMac, we had too many guys who could not get themselves aligned properly pre-snap, and in many situations there was someone jumping around and not getting set until after the offense had snapped the ball. That is scheme, and the players did not know where to line up. I knew going back to 2010 that Ellis Johnson had the same thoughts and wanted to get Harbison in Columbia, but CH wouldn't leave for SC and they filled the spot at DBs with someone else. I was a little surprised that EJ didn't get CH when he went to Southern Miss.
Brent Venables was not happy with Cheese's recruiting philosophies in particular and had been pushing him out, but I do not know if Dabo would've actually terminated Charlie Harbison.
Now if Dabo would only listen and fire Joey Batson we might start getting somewhere. I have heard rumblings of further changes in S&C but that Batson will not be leaving.
There are few names so far for the DB spot, and I have not heard one mentioned more than the other. Tommy Thigpen was Safety Coach at Auburn, LB coach at UNC before that, and was recently fired by the Auburn administration (not Malzahn's choice per se). He's an outstanding recruiter, and mediocre at coaching them up. We could take Thigpen for his tenacity in Atlanta and Charlotte, but I never felt like Auburn's DBs were well-coached either, so this may be an even trade with Auburn.
Marvin Sanders is currently the USC Trojan DB Coach, and might be my choice for the spot after further evaluation. Mike Reed from NC State is another. Bobby Jack Wright, currently an Oklahoma DL assistant, is another mentioned so far.
Willie Martinez, the shittiest DB coach in America behind Jack Hines, may also be interviewed. He was BV's DB coach at OU in the last season there, and was UGA DC before that, where he ran them into the ground by turning the secondary into a dumpster fire.