SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jeff Scott says he is very fortunate to be able to coach No. 3 Clemson in Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl against No. 2 Ohio State.
Earlier this month, Scott landed his first head coaching job when the Tigers’ co-offensive coordinator became the new head coach at South Florida.
“I have been really happy with the way our players have responded,” he said during Thursday’s Media Day at the J.W. Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Spa & Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. “They were happy for me and also to be able to have the opportunity to come back and finish the season the right way is something you usually don’t get the opportunity to do when you take a head coaching job. So, I am just very fortunate and kind of soaking all of this in and I am ready for Saturday.”
Scott says the transition to South Florida to Clemson has been a smooth one because of the leadership from Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney to athletic director Dan Radakovich and USF athletic director Michael Kelly.
“Everybody is on the same page,” Scott said. “USF has a lot of respect for our program here at Clemson, so they did not want to do anything that maybe could slow us down or affect the playoff. So, with both groups agreeing and being on the same page, it has made it easier for me.
“This is what I am used to, right? Whatever it is, the last five years, this is what we have been doing. It really does not feel out of the norm for me at this time.”
Scott says the biggest thing for him is staying in the moment of where he is. Right now, he is an assistant coach on Clemson’s staff. All of his focus is on trying to figure out a way to move the football consistently against Ohio State’s defense.
“Whatever you are doing at that time, if you are game planning, put all of your focus into that and then there will be other times to try and get focused on South Florida. So, that is really where I am at right now,” Scott said.
Though he is excited about the opportunity to coach in the College Football Playoff and possibly help lead the Tigers’ to another national championship, it’s also a little bittersweet for Scott. With the exception of a few years after he got out of school, he has been at Clemson for nearly two decades.
When his dad, Brad Scott, was let go at South Carolina in 1998, following five seasons in Columbia, he moved with his father to Clemson after Brad took a job as an assistant coach on then Tommy Bowden’s staff. Jeff Scott then played for Clemson for three years and lettered from 2000-’02.
After brief stints in the high school ranks, as a coach and head coach, and at Presbyterian, Scott found his way back to Clemson as first a graduate assistant and then as a full-time assistant on Swinney’s staff. He has been with Swinney since the beginning in 2008.
And there is the fact his wife Sara is also a Clemson graduate and has ties to Clemson and the community. Because of it all, it was not an easy decision for Scott to make.
“For the last few years, I felt like this day was probably going to come at some point,” Scott said. “Probably, my biggest worry or concern would be kind of that battle going on, do you leave or do you stay? This has been a unique experience than what I expected. I have peace knowing this is the opportunity I needed to take and that it was the right opportunity. But at the same time, I have a very heartfelt feeling going on, leaving a place that is as special as Clemson.
“Clemson just isn’t special to me because of the 12 years I have been coaching here or whenever I played here, but all the way back to 1998 when my dad got let go at South Carolina. That was a very difficult time for our family, but three days later he gets the opportunity to come to Clemson and the last 20 years have been incredible for our family.”
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