Entire Clemson coaching staff returns

Clemson assistant football coaches Tony Elliott (left) and Chad Morris are each back at Clemson for their fourth year.

There's a certain comfort level for Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney in retaining an entire onfield coaching staff.

All nine assistants are back on board for the second time in his six-year tenure, and it's just the fifth time in the past 22 seasons that Clemson has returned its entire coaching staff.

"Yeah, it's cool," Swinney said. "It's unusual, really. I see all the change; that's the volatility of our business."

As one sample size to support that, the Tigers' 12 opponents in 2014 endured a combined 33 staff switches in the past year - more than half the result of regime changes at Louisville and Wake Forest.

Only two foes - Boston College and South Carolina - match Clemson with zero turnover from the previous year.

It's not necessary for success; Florida State won a national championship last year after replacing five departed assistants from 2012. Head coach Jimbo Fisher admitted last week he couldn't quite believe how quickly his new staff created good chemistry, trickling down to the players.

"Today, you talk about entitlement for kids wanting to go to the league? Well, coaches now with all the money: 'I'm an assistant, I want to be a coordinator, I want to be a head guy.' " Fisher said. "You want me to tell you how to do it? Do the best job you can do with the job you have. Somebody will notice and hire you, I promise. If you're looking to jump and you start chasing the money, it always bites you."

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris has, for a few years now, been the most likely bird to fly the coop for a head coaching position, yet he returns for his fourth year guiding the Tigers' offense.

"If I do leave, I want everybody to sit here and go, 'man, wow, thanks, we wish you the best, can't blame you' and not look at me and go 'why are you doing it?' " Morris said. "But the thing that we have here, the family atmosphere, my family loves it here, we love our players, we love the passion this program has, the fan base, our university."

For the first time in his Clemson tenure, Morris won't tutor quarterback Tajh Boyd. Successor Cole Stoudt, however, has two built-in advantages - he's got plenty of experience with other previous backups like wide receiver Mike Williams, tight end Jordan Leggett and four different running backs.

Just as critically, since Stoudt arrived at Clemson in 2011, he and every offensive player have had the same offensive coordinator (Morris), running backs coach (Tony Elliott), wide receivers coach (Jeff Scott), tight ends coach (Danny Pearman) and offensive line coach (Robbie Caldwell.)

"In this business, that's basically unheard of," Morris said. "I don't know if too many teams in the country can say that.

"It's what I tell Cole: there's no excuse. You're not having to learn a new system. You've got to go perform."

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables enters his third year at Clemson, while defensive ends coach Marion Hobby, defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks and secondary coach Mike Reed are also back on board. The Tigers' entire ballyhooed defensive line has known no other coaches besides Hobby and Brooks, save for 2010 redshirt years by Vic Beasley, Tavaris Barnes and Josh Watson.

"Probably the most difficult thing about being a head coach is assembling a staff (and) getting the people you need that are going to be loyal. That's a word a lot of folks don't know anymore," Caldwell said. "They want you to be loyal to them, but they ain't loyal to you. That's the big challenge nowadays.

"This crowd has never (thought) the grass is greener over there."

Most the staff is relatively young - Swinney, Morris, Venables, Pearman, Hobby and Reed are in their 40s, while Elliott is 34 and Scott is 33 - with a couple of older guides in Brooks and Caldwell, each in their 60s.

"They love being a part of the energy we have in our program," Swinney said. "It's a combination of the culture we build in our program, and a compliment to Clemson."

To his troops, Swinney's a big reason why Morris and others don't flee. The Tigers only sustained one staff change each of the previous two offseasons to this one.

"He does a great job of evaluating the personnel he brings in to be a part of the program," Elliott said. "He's got similar guys to himself. There's no egos. Everybody is comfortable with their role, so you definitely can sense the chemistry."

Swinney lauds the administration for restructuring contracts and committing the third-highest payroll for assistants ($4.212 million in 2013), trailing LSU and Alabama.

"That allows me to compete not just for the best players, but the best coaches," Swinney said. "Usually with coaching staffs there's a lot of change - guys get opportunities - but we've been able to stay the course.

"I think that's special, when you can walk in a meeting room and everybody knows what to expect."