With four-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris ascending the coaching ranks to become the head coach of the Southern Methodist University Mustangs in his native Texas, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney wasted no time in naming his successors, promoting wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott and running backs coach Tony Elliot as co-offensive coordinators. Swinney then filled the only remaining staff void by hiring Brandon Streeter, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Richmond University, to be the new quarterbacks coach of the Clemson Tigers. All three moves will constitute the only staff changes heading into the 2015 season.
While some have squabbled over the decision to promote from within the program rather than conduct a nation-wide search for offensive coordinator, few among the Tiger faithful will begrudge the fact that all three coaches are Clemson men: former Tiger gridders and proud alums. Though the old saying "A Clemson Man Needs No Introduction" most certainly applies in these three cases, a retrospective on the playing careers of Brandon Streeter, Jeff Scott, and Tony Elliott promises to shed light on their later coaching credentials and on the state of the Clemson football program then and now. So without further ado, your humble Tiger sports historian presents new Co-Offensive Coordinators Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott, and new Quarterbacks Coach & Recruiting Coordinator Brandon Streeter in all of their former orange-and-purple glory.
Brandon Streeter came to Clemson, SC from Gettysburg, PA, where his father has roamed the sidelines for the Division III Gettysburg College Bullets since 1978. As a player he drew on his father's wisdom and experience to excel on the field, and now as a coach he credits much of his passion and prowess on the sidelines to his father's example.
Streeter returns to his alma mater with fond memories of his time in Tigertown, as he was a three-year letterwinner for the Clemson football team between 1997 and 1999 under two different head coaches (Tommy West, 1996-1998 & Tommy Bowden, 1999). He was the starting quarterback during both his junior and senior seasons and broke or tied eleven Clemson records during his career, throwing for 3,506 yards and seventeen touchdowns in twenty-six career games. His 63.1 completion percentage during his senior campaign in 1999 was the program's single-season standard until Tajh Boyd surpassed it in 2012 (67.2%) and bested his own mark in 2013 (68.5%). Streeter, though, still ranks eleventh in Clemson history in passing yardage, ninth in completions, thirteenth in touchdown passes and eighth in completion percentage.
Streeter's best game came against the University of Virginia Cavaliers in 1999, when he set a single-game school record with 343 passing yards (since surpassed by Charlie Whitehurst-420yds vs. Duke in 2002, then Tajh Boyd-455yds vs. Syracuse in 2013).
Streeter's mental and physical toughness was first honored when he became Clemson's inaugural winner of the Brandon Streeter Award in 1999, which is annually given to a student-athlete who has succeeded athletically despite a physical injury.
These individual accomplishments on the field did not result in great won-loss success, however, more an indication of the depressed state of Clemson football in the late nineties than anything else. Streeter's career at Clemson straddled the end of a decade-long era of perpetual mediocrity and the beginning of another decade-long era of perpetual false hope in the transition from Tommy West to Tommy Bowden. During Streeter's freshman year in 1996, the Tigers finished just 7-5, and the 1997 team repeated that script en route to another 7-5 campaign. The 1998 squad replaced many key contributors on both sides of the ball from those bowl-eligible teams and struggled to a 3-8 season-the program's first losing season since 1992-that cost Tommy West his job. Hope was renewed, however, when Clemson hired the hottest name on the coaching circuit in Tommy Bowden (and his offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez) to guide the program into the twenty-first century. Despite compiling just a 6-6 record in their inaugural campaign in 1999, all signs pointed upward and the program stood poised to re-emerge on the national scene yet again. But that early hope proved an empty promise, as Bowden's teams improved the state of program considerably, but never succeeded in breaking through to consistent national success and prominence, failing to secure either a conference title or a major bowl win in 9+ seasons.
A three-time member of the ACC Academic Honor Roll, Brandon Streeter earned his bachelor's degree in health science from Clemson in 1999 and a master's degree in human resource development from Clemson in 2001. He returned to Clemson in 2004-2005 as a graduate assistant on Bowden's staff, where he continued to cut his teeth as a coach, before moving on for stints at Charleston Southern, Liberty, and Richmond. Having experienced the doldrums of mediocrity that plagued his early playing career, as well as helped re-energize the program and its expectations in 1999, Streeter now returns to a program that is winning at a high level with almost unprecedented consistency. He is now tasked with playing a major part in continuing and expanding upon that recent run of success and minimizing the growing pains of coaching transition as quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator.
Jeff Scott, like Streeter before him, came to Clemson with a considerable coaching pedigree, his father Brad Scott having most famously directed Bobby Bowden's 1993 national-champion Florida State Seminoles offense (with Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward at quarterback) before accepting an ill-fated position as the head coach of the lowly South Carolina Gamecocks (1994-1998), then joining Tommy Bowden's staff at Clemson as offensive line and associate head coach (1999-2011). Scott lettered three years for Bowden's Tigers as a wide receiver and the primary holder between 2000 and 2003. His career stats don't' amount to much on paper: 5car, 48yds, 1td on the ground; 3rec, 23yds receiving; and 1/1, 7yds passing. But the numbers alone fail to capture Scott's uniquely important role on those Tiger teams. Tommy Bowden, like his hall-of-fame father before him, developed quite a reputation as a gambler and trickster when it came to playcalling, and fake field goals and punts were a ready and effective part of the Tigers' offensive arsenal especially early in his tenure. Scott, as the primary holder on all place-kicks, was pivotal in executing this part of the game plan, and proved quite adept at moving the chains in high-pressure situations. Nearly all of his rushing and passing yardage totals came in this highly specialized role as the fake field goal "back."
His most celebrated success in executing a fake came in 2001 against the upset-minded University of Central Florida Black Knights. Scott's 22yd run off a fake field goal in the third quarter put the Tigers up 21-7, and eventually proved the difference as they held on to secure a lackluster 21-14 season-opening victory. Other fakes contributed to more resounding victories. In 2000, Scott successfully executed two fakes for first downs on scoring drives, one a nine-yard run on the road against UVA, which extended the drive that ended in the field goal and initiated what would ultimately amount to thirty-one points in the 31-20 Tiger win. Other efforts proved less successful. A failed fake field goal on fourth down in Tallahassee in 2000 ended the Tigers' most promising scoring drive on a night that eventually snowballed into a 54-7 rout at the hands of the top-ranked Florida State Seminoles. And all of Scott's career passing stats came in a fake field goal that failed to gain a new set of downs against Louisiana Tech in 2002.
Scott's fake field goal history, however, reveals the level of frustration that plagued the Tiger program during his career under the command of Tommy Bowden. Bowden's teams typically played their best in big games, and pulled off some momentous upsets over the years (2003 vs. FSU & Tennessee; 2004 @ Miami; 2005 vs. FSU & @ South Carolina; 2006 @ FSU & vs. GA Tech all come to mind). But Bowden's teams consistently played down to their competition and often wound up on the losing end of humiliating defeats to lesser opponents. The uninspiring wins over UCF and LA Tech proved this general trend even in victory, only further confirmed in numerous embarrassing losses (2004 losing @ then 1-8 Duke after defeating the #11 Miami Hurricanes on the road the week before being the most glaring example of this general trend).
As a coach, Scott returned to Clemson as a graduate assistant in 2008, and was promoted by Dabo Swinney to full-time as the wide receivers coach upon Tommy Bowden's midseason resignation, and to recruiting coordinator the following season, positions he has held and succeeded in ever since. He has been an integral part of the resurgence of Clemson football back onto the national stage through his recruiting prowess and, under former offensive coordinator Chad Morris's direction, offensive game-planning. His promotion to co-offensive coordinator promises to continue this foundation for success with little interruption, an especially important point considering the bevy of talent he's helped bring to campus over the past six years.
Tony Elliott came to Clemson from California without the coaching pedigree or playing credentials of his fellow Tiger alums and football staffers Streeter and Scott, arriving as a largely unheralded walk-on wide receiver in 1999. But Elliott is the embodiment of great things coming from humble beginnings, for despite losing his mother to a car accident and being forced to basically raise his sister while attending college, he became a major contributor and respected team leader by his senior season in 2003. He was a four-year letterman and compiled 34rec, 455yds, 2tds in forty-four career games, most of that production coming in his senior campaign of 2003 (23rec, 286yds, 1td) when he served as co-captain of a team that finished #22 in the nation with a 9-4 record that included legendary victories over #3 FSU (26-10), South Carolina (63-17), and #6 Tennessee (27-14 in the Peach Bowl).
Perhaps his greatest game came during that 2003 senior season on the road against the GA Tech Yellow Jackets, when he caught one of just two career touchdown passes (a nine-yarder from QB Charlie Whitehurst) to jump start the eventual 39-3 romp, the last Tiger victory over the Jackets at Grant Field. But like his teammate Jeff Scott, Elliot experienced the frustrating ups-and-downs of the Clemson program under Tommy Bowden. The 1999 team went 6-6; the 2000 and 2003 teams both won nine games (9-3 & 9-4 respectively), but fell short of challenging for the conference title, while the 2002 team severely underachieved at 7-6.
A First-Team Academic All-ACC selection and a CoSIDA Academic District III member as a student-athlete, Elliott earned his undergraduate degree in industrial engineering in 2002 and entered the business world with Michelin North America. But after two years, he returned to coaching as an assistant, first as wide receivers coach at SC State (2006-2007) then in the same position at Furman (2008-2010) before becoming the running backs coach at Clemson in 2011. Elliott has experienced success as a player and a position coach, contributing to Clemson's recent resurgence via his recruiting prowess (named a top-50 recruiter by 247sports in 2013) and player development skills (Andre "NF" Ellington, "Hot Rod" McDowell, and the "Wayne Train" Gallman). He now looks to continue that run of success as a co-offensive coordinator and primary play-caller for the Tigers on game day.
Brandon Streeter, Jeff Scott, and Tony Elliott all experienced Clemson during a time of transition, but were integral in helping to lay the foundation for more recent successes as players, and in building upon that foundation as coaches. Though opinions vary widely over whether Scott and Elliott should have been promoted based on their relative lack of experience, it is at least comforting to know that the Tiger offense is in the hands of three fellow Tigers who have all experienced success while themselves donning the orange and purple, who understand first-hand how far the program has come since their playing days, and most importantly, have contributed to and/or are heavily invested in the personnel recruitment and strategic plan that has resulted in the most recent run of success. By this account the Clemson offense should be in good hands and poised to strong-arm the competition with two former Tiger wideouts and a quarterback calling the shots.
Merry Christmas & GO TIGERS!