After graduating from Clemson in 2004 with honors and an Industrial Engineering degree, co-offensive Coordinator Tony Elliott was not sure if he wanted to get into coaching.
Three College Football Playoff appearances and a national championship later he is known as one of the sharpest offensive minds in college football.
After University of Central Florida head coach Scott Frost accepted the same position at his alma mater Nebraska on Dec. 2, the Knights turned their eyes at least for a moment at the co-offensive coordinator of the nation’s No. 1 team.
Despite being the nation’s top assistant coach by winning the Broyles Award, Elliott believes to take the next step career wise he has a lot to learn and that he feels right at home in Clemson.
In 2014, when Chad Morris left to become head coach at SMU, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney named assistants Elliott and Jeff Scott as co-offensive coordinators prior to the Russell Athletic Bowl to the surprise of many.
The move may have seemed confusing at the time, but now it is clear Swinney made the right decision. Clemson is 41-3 with Elliott and Scott at the helm and the nation is taking notice.
Elliott does not deny dreaming of one day being named a head coach.
“I think any time you are in this position you want to aspire to reach the highest level so I think it is a tremendous honor to even be considered,” he said following Thursday’s practice as the Tigers prepare to play No. 4 Alabama in the College Football Playoff.
While the co-coordinator and running backs coach may aspire to reach that level one day, Elliott believes the timing was not right.
“I have a lot of things that I need to work on,” he said. “I’m trying to be the best offensive coordinator I can be. Clemson is home, coach Swinney has been unbelievable to me and my family and the timing wasn’t right.”
Though receiving national attention for his efforts and high consideration for a quality group-of-five coaching job was enlightening for Elliott, it also showed him he has a lot to learn in order to be a head coach.
“It opened my eyes that sometime down the road, if that is an aspiration of mine, I need to ready myself,” he said. “I am not prepared to go in and interview as a head coach because I still don’t know enough about that process and what they do on a daily basis.”
Being in the spotlight has not shifted Elliott’s focus as the Tigers prepare to kickoff against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl in just a few short weeks.
“I’ve been in the submarine trying to be the best offensive coordinator I can be to make these young men successful on Saturdays and that’s what I focused on.”