In the last two weeks, Florida State’s Willie Taggart was fired after just 21 games on the job. On Sunday, Chad Morris was fired at Arkansas just 22 games into his tenure.
“It is a tough business, man,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Sunday evening. “I hate it for him and for all of those guys on his staff and all of those families. There is going to be a lot of people in this business getting fired if you only get a year and a half to build a program. But I guess that is the direction we are heading.”
If Swinney is correct, then we are likely not to see another Dabo Swinney in college football. Can you imagine?
If you recall, Swinney’s 2010 Clemson team went 6-7, which ended with an embarrassing loss to South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte. Also, that loss followed a 29-7 loss to rival South Carolina, the Gamecocks second straight win at the time over the Tigers. That had not happened since the Gamecocks won three straight games in the series from 1968-’70.
Where would Clemson be right now had former athletic director Terry Don Phillips listened to all the boo birds and talking heads on the radio calling for Swinney’s job? Where would college football be had Phillips’ jumped the gun and fired Swinney after the loss to South Florida?
Granted I don’t know all that went into FSU’s and Arkansas’ decisions to let both coaches go, but 21 and 22 games, really? They never had a chance to build a program.
I hope this isn’t the direction college football is headed.
Morris, of course, is especially personal to Swinney. He was Swinney’s offensive coordinator and helped build what the Tigers have experienced the last four years.
Needing a change to his offensive philosophy, Swinney went and pulled Morris from Tulsa after the 2010 season, where in one year he turned their offense around. At Clemson, Morris helped the Tigers become one of the premier offenses in college football during his time from 2011-’14. It ultimately led to him landing the job as SMU’s head coach, which led him to Arkansas.
“I think Chad is a great coach. I think he is a winner,” Morris said. “I think if he had support and was able to come to work every day not having to worry about his job a year and a half into his job, that would resonate and you would look up five or six years from now and you would be really proud of what you had.
“But, again, there is not a lot of patience. I understand … Listen, the type of money that is being paid and things like that. The expectations, everybody wants to win yesterday, but it just isn’t that easy.”
In most cases, it isn’t easy to win in the first two years after taking over program. In most cases, there is a coaching change because things were not going well before they got there. That was the case at Arkansas.
“He did not take over a great situation. He took over a very challenging situation,” Swinney said. “When you take it over, you really lose that recruiting class. You just kind of chalk that up. So, he has basically had about a year and a half.”
Swinney says Morris will keep moving forward and he knows the Arkansas experience is something he will learn and grow from, but he hates it for his friend and colleague.
“If they just would have left him alone and took the pressure off as far as every week with the hotseat stuff and all of that, I think he would have built a really good program there,” Swinney said. “Whoever comes in there after and even though the wins are not there, they have upgraded the recruiting and they’re in a little better situation. Again, it is just hard to do something in a year and a half or a two-year time frame in this business. That is kind of where we are.”
Fortunately for Clemson, it was a good thing college football was not like this 10 years ago.
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