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Long-time Clemson coach is retiring

Clemson defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks is retiring sources told The Clemson Insider on Friday night.

Brooks, who has been with Dabo Swinney since Swinney first became head coach at Clemson in 2009, has coached at Clemson the last eight years. He helped the Tigers become one of the top defenses in the country and this past Monday he led the Tigers to their first national championship under Swinney with a 35-31 victory over Alabama.

Clemson defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks is retiring sources told The Clemson Insider on Friday night.

Brooks, who has been with Dabo Swinney since Swinney first became head coach at Clemson in 2009, has coached at Clemson the last eight years. He helped the Tigers become one of the top defenses in the country and this past Monday he led the Tigers to their first national championship under Swinney with a 35-31 victory over Alabama.

Brooks told TCI prior to the Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 29 that he would know when it is time to retire from the game he has dedicated just about his whole life to, including the last 42 years as a football coach.

“It’s fun, and you just keep on keeping on,” Brooks said at the time.

Being a part of Dabo Swinney’s staff at Clemson rejuvenated Brooks, now 65 years old. From 1994-2008, he was the defensive tackles coach under Phil Fulmer at Tennessee. During his time there, he helped the Volunteers become one of the elite programs in the SEC and in the nation. The Vols won the 1998 National Championship, coincidently winning the first BCS National Championship at the Fiesta Bowl.

Once Fulmer was forced out at Tennessee following the 2008 season, Brooks thought hard about retiring, but he knew he had more left in the tank and when Swinney asked him to come and help build the Clemson program like he did at Tennessee, Brooks jumped at the opportunity.

“We are blessed with great situations,” he said. “To be with Coach Fulmer all that time and then Coach Swinney giving me this opportunity, it has really been fun. Getting this program to where it is relevant nationally … our Tiger Paw has a great brand everywhere.

“I’m blessed. I have good players. When you move a Christian (Wilkins) out, you worry about what you can get done, but Dexter (Lawrence) and Scott (Pagano) have done a great job filling in.”

Though any great coach will say he cannot do it without the players, Brooks has played a big role in why those guys have done the things they have been able to do over his 42 years as a coach. That’s why the American Football Coaches Association named him as the Assistant Coach of the Year for 2016.

Brooks, who coached at Florida and North Carolina as well in his career, played a big role in why guys like Lawrence, Wilkins and Carlos Watkins have become All-ACC and All-American caliber players.

A lot of people thought Brooks might retire after Lawrence, the youngest of the bunch, moves onto the NFL or graduates, but the longtime coach said that was not true.

“I don’t know if it is all about them,” he said. “I have tried my best not to promise players. I am not going to promise them that they are not going to play and I’m not going to promise them that I’m going to coach for 100 years because you could make a liar out of yourself.

“(Lawrence) has been a great young guy to coach, and it has been fun to take Carlos through five years and be what we thought he could be when we went and got him, and then what he went through, and now he is what we thought he could be. Those are the fun things in this business and developing guys.”

And those are the reasons Brooks has been happy being able to do what he loves to do more than anything else … coaching college football.

“DeShawn Williams sent me a picture the other night after he and D.J. (Reader) played against each other,” Brooks said. “That’s the pleasure you get. Here they are, like two of my sons for my wife and I, sending me that and my getting to share in their success. That is the fun part of what we get to do.

“I have never set those (retirement) parameters and all that really. I just felt like, I will know when it is time.”

 

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