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The OC Situation at Clemson

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Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

It has happened..."The Situation" STS and its readers correctly speculated about a year ago has begun to unfold...

Morris has taken a head coaching job somewhere else and Dabo has hired unproven Jeff Scott and unproven Tony Elliot to be Co-OCs.

When Dan Radokovic signed Dabo to that ridiculous buyout  a year ago, this is the situation we anticipated. Morris has left to take a head coaching position and Dabo and his staff are ready to take over.  DRad had to know that this was a possibility.  Therefore, he made the decision that Dabo had generated enough cache that we would provide him with the most lucrative buyout structure in the nation.

My comments at the time were: "I don't see how this contract guarantees the all-important RETURN ON THE INVESTMENT. Yes, if Morris and Venables leave next year (or even this year) and the bottom falls out, there is no fail safe."

So, that means if Dabo has picked a "lemon" as a successor to Morris, he will likely retain job security because it's cheaper to keep him.  DRad has chosen to live with that and Dabo knows it.  In the event of an offensive debacle like 2010, the buyout gives Dabo enough cache where it would be financially prudent for Clemson to let him stay and be allowed to replace Scott and Elliot with a big name hire. That's a little unsettling to some of us.

On the surface, the hiring of Jeff Scott and Tony Elliot seems "good-ole boy" in nature and is similar to the hiring of Billy Napier in 2010.  There is no doubt that Dabo made a bad hire with Napier, but this is a different situation.

If you hire an Italian chef, you should be prepared to eat Italian food. What I mean by that is that Billy Napier was an I-formation pro style OC.   Dabo comes from a WR background and had a desire to be a spread formation team.  On paper, this looks like dual OCs that can counter-balance weaknesses the other might have that are outside his area of expertise.  In reality, it looked like we were running 2 different offenses at the same time.

Back then, we did not even the personnel to run a spread, but Dabo was dead set on implementing those concepts and using them in games. In case you forgot about the WR lean years, Terrence Ashe, Marquan Jones, and Xavier Dye were our starting WRs.  That's why Dabo should have yielded to Napier. There is no doubt that we would've been better with Ashe and Dye off the field and Chad Diehl and Nuk Hopkins on the field.  We did that at Auburn and Ellington rushed for 140 yards on 6.4 ypc.  Dabo did not yield, though and Ellington's carries dropped.  Dabo went with Kyle Parker's 45 QBR rating over Ellington's 6 yards a carry.  At one point, Napier and Dabo were involved in a well publicized practice field dust up.

Four years later, though, things have changed.  We are loaded with young spread personnel guys who have been groomed in the Malzahn/Morris HUNH philosophy.  We could have spent the $1.3M on a big name OC but, unless we hired Rhett Lashlee, we would also have had to start over.  We would've had to make Lashlee a financial offer he couldn't refuse because Clemson's OC job is at best, a lateral move.  I can understand not paying a 31 year-old who doesn't call the plays a million dollars a year to come here.

This decision to promote Scott and Elliot allows us to retain our offensive identity, play calls, terminology, formations, signals, audibles, line calls, and HUNH scheme.  The breakout freshmen we have won't lose this first year of development and have to start over with a new philosophy.  The veterans won't lose a spring and fall camp trying to learn a new system.  With our young skill players on offense, this should pay off.  I mean, Watson ran this offense in high school. It's more than legitimate to ask: Do we really want to flush that advantage down the drain after one year?

@I don't know about you but, it sort of looked like Watson might have control of the offense@. What do you guys think?

The other concern is money. Venables has earned a raise. Because of the turnaround we have had here defensively, he is going to get attention from suitors.  We will eventually lose him of course, but hopefully, later than sooner.  With Morris and his high salary out of the picture, money that would have been used to replace Morris with a big name can be shifted over to Venables.

At the same time, making Tony Elliot and Jeff Scott Co-OCs, allows both staff continuity and they get a chance to be upwardly mobile at a big boy football school. The opportunity is a bigger selling point to them than the money.  Ask yourself; what's the bigger springboard, the OC at winless SMU, or perennial top 20 Clemson?   It's a no-brainer.  If those two are successful, they will also have suitors and they will get paid (either here or somewhere else). They will be well ahead of the curve for their age.  Furthermore, when one of them does leave, we will have a seamless transition at OC by simply removing the "Co" tag of the Co-OC that stays at Clemson.

I do think they will be competent enough.  The reason I think that is because Scott isn't just Dabo's choice, he's Morris' choice too. There are some checks and balances there.

That brings me to another point. I believe that even though Morris got most of the credit, Dabo is still the boss.  The Clemson OC job is a hell of a carrot to dangle in front of someone like Morris who was coaching high school two years prior. I believe that Dabo has had input in Morris' overall gameplan from day one.  I believe that the reason he hired a guy with 1 year of college experience was to be able to have that input.  Now, I think Dabo wants the same level of control that he originally had in the offense when he was hired in 2009.

That's because, ultimately, Dabo makes himself responsible for the offense. That means that he will take criticism for when the offense is dysfunctional and take credit for when the offense is clicking.  I used to laugh how anytime the offense did anything well it was credited to Morris and when the offense did anything bad Dabo got the blame.  So yea, Dabo is the boss.  The buck stops there.  Dabo has every right to involve himself in the offensive strategy.

Most people want to have the respect of their peers as far as their job performance goes.  I don't think Dabo is any different.  With Morris gone, and Dabo becoming more of the face of the offense, he has the opportunity to lift a huge monkey off his back from the "Dabier" era.   On the flipside, if this fails, he will be painted with the stigma of "great guy, great CEO coach, schematic weakling."  This could be Dabo's redemption for 2010. Dabo has earned another shot to do that and he and his staff are going to take it.

The last advantage from this hire is that they know each other well. They are friends and hopefully that allows for a steady work environment where cooler heads prevail in the heat of the battle.  Somebody has to be the designated play caller.  My guess is that it will be Jeff Scott.  In a HUNH offense, whoever takes that responsibility needs to have the decision made quickly. There's no time to have a debate between three guys over the headset.  I worry that if that happens we might lose some effectiveness or be forced to use a timeout.

Overall, I am comfortable with this hire under the assumption that Dabo knows what he is doing and that these guys have spent the past two years being groomed for this under The Chad.  I would've been more comfortable if we would have interviewed successful outside OCs.  I would've been more comfortable if we would've hired a big name replacement. So, I still have a butterfly or two in my gut about this.

I'm uneasy about this because it best resembles the beginning of the Tommy Bowden era when Rich Rod left and Tommy was telling people that he knew the offense. Well, he didn't, we never ran it again, and we went to conventional Pro Style offenses after that. We got fooled.  In fact, the AD got fooled a few times and the fans more than that.  This cannot happen again.

So, if this doesn't work, I want Dabo to resign. I'll say that right now.  If you're not schematically competent and you're hiring less experienced people just so you can have schematic control, I cannot trust you with Clemson University's football program.   He would have chosen to put himself over the betterment of the program (twice) and that would be unforgiveable.