In 1983, a 28-year old man by the name of Brad Scott brought his family to Tallahassee, Florida after accepting a graduate assistant position on Bobby Bowden’s Florida State staff. Bowden was beginning his eighth season as the head coach of the Seminoles, slowly building them into one of the country’s top programs.
Back then, Florida State was not the football power that it is today. Before Scott joined the staff, the Seminoles had some moderate success. Bowden had led them to an undefeated regular season in 1979 and to a top 5 ranking in 1980. A few months before Scott arrived, FSU finished the 1982 season No. 13 in the final poll and were considered a perennial top 20 team.
By the end of the 1980s, Scott had moved up to become Bowden’s tight ends coach and top recruiter and the Seminoles had become one of college football’s elite programs. Beginning in 1987, FSU began an unprecedented run of 14 straight top 5 finishes. Scott was a part of the first seven and was the offensive coordinator when the ‘Noles won their first national championship in 1993.
During the entire ride Scott had in helping build FSU into an elite program, his son Jeff, just two years old when he arrived in Tallahassee, grew up watching the whole thing. Like Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, Bowden allowed the coaches to bring their kids to practice so they could spend time with them. Much like Clemson is today, it was a family atmosphere.
“I’m very fortunate that Bobby Bowden allowed the coaches’ kids to be around and be involved as much as he did because without that I might not have got into coaching,” said Jeff, who today serves as Clemson’s co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach.
When he wasn’t playing or practicing football, Jeff spent all of his time on the practice fields with his dad in Tallahassee. He even went on a few recruiting trips with his dad because, as he said, he wanted to learn as much about his dad’s job and coaching as he could.
“It was such a great experience. It got in my blood at an early age so I definitely have great memories of my childhood down there,” Jeff said.
After helping FSU win a national championship in 1993, Brad was hired at South Carolina to be its head football coach. But after he had an up-and-down head coaching career in Columbia, Brad was hired by Bobby’s son, Tommy, in 1998 to join his staff at Clemson. That following year, Jeff walked onto the Clemson team where he lettered from 2000-’02.
A few years after earning his degree from Clemson in 2003, Jeff started to follow in his father’s footsteps as a coach, first coaching Blythewood High School in Columbia to a state championship in 2006, and then a year later joining the S.C. State staff as its wide receivers coach.
In 2008 he took a job as a graduate assistant on Tommy’s staff, and then moved up to wide receivers coach after Tommy resigned midway through the season and started coaching full-time alongside his dad.
Brad has since retired from coaching, but is still an associated athletic director on Swinney’s staff, while Jeff became Swinney’s full-time wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator before taking over as co-offensive coordinator in 2015.
Now as the third-ranked Tigers prepare for the biggest game of the season next Saturday in Tallahassee against No. 14 Florida State, it is a reminder of his past. Jeff goes back to the place where it all began. Where he fell in love with the game of football and discovered his passion for coaching.
Florida State is where his father’s coaching career took off. Florida State is a very special place for the Scott family, and the Florida State game is always a sentimental one. However, with each passing year and the more his own family continues to grow in Clemson, Clemson is where Jeff’s heart is.
“It is probably a little bit less each and every year,” Jeff said about his feelings for Florida State and Tallahassee. “The first couple of times, especially whenever I was playing, it was definitely a little bit different for me. But it has changed a lot since I got here in 1999. I have been around Clemson for about 17 or 18 years so this is obviously more of a home.
“I had great memories growing up, and just like all the coaches’ kids out here running around, that was me at Florida State back in the day.”