CLEMSON — Let the Chad Morris swirling rumors begin.
Three days after the conclusion of Clemson’s regular season — Morris’ third with the Tigers — and one day after Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe announced his resignation, CBS senior columnist Bruce Feldman tweeted: “Hearing Clemson OC Chad Morris will be a big player in Wake Forest coaching search. Fantastic offensive mind.”
Morris was reported to be high on other schools’ wish lists after the 2012 season, including North Carolina State, before returning to Clemson.
Morris, who turns 45 Wednesday, was a successful Texas high school head coach from 1994-2009 before making the college leap to Tulsa in 2010 as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. He then signed a five-year contract to be Clemson offensive coordinator on Jan. 31, 2011, worth $450,000 per year in base and supplemental salary.
In the fall of 2011, Clemson won the ACC Championship and won 10 games for the first time in 21 years. With sophomore quarterback Tajh Boyd leading the way, the Tigers leapt from 88th to 26th nationally in total offense. Morris was named Rivals.com’s national offensive coordinator of the year.
For his efforts, less than 11 months after signing his first contract at Clemson, Morris was given a raise more than tripling his salary to $1.3 million annually and a two-year extension through 2017.
That made Morris the highest-paid assistant coach in the country.
Resigning Monday after 13 years at Wake Forest, Grobe made $2.25 million in 2013, making him the sixth-highest-paid ACC coach and No. 39 in the country.
Wake Forest (4-8, 2-6 ACC this year) won the 2006 ACC title, the only year in program history the Demon Deacons won double-digit games. Clemson has double-digit wins for its third straight season.
It also will be an uphill climb to success for Wake Forest’s next coach, whomever that might be. According to Rivals.com’s recruiting rankings, the Demon Deacons have signed no 5-star and one 4-star recruit in their last five classes.
Scott Roussel of FootballScoop tweeted Tuesday, “At Wake, word we got yesterday is that the administration is first seeking someone with head coaching experience (& strong academic record).”
With Steve Sarkisian taking the Southern Cal job Monday, Washington is the only other currently vacant BCS conference head coaching job besides Wake Forest.
Clemson did not have a comment Tuesday on Morris’ status. The Tigers’ coaching staff is on the road recruiting this week, and head coach Dabo Swinney is not scheduled to speak with the media until Sunday when Clemson learns its bowl destination.