Spiller officially hired as on-field coach
Clemson University’s Compensation Committee for the Board of Trustees officially approved several coaching changes on Dabo Swinney’s coaching staff Thursday morning.
After seriously being courted by Tennessee a few weeks back to be its new head coach, Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott was given a significant bump in salary. Elliott’s annual salary went from $1.7 million to $2 million, making him the third highest paid assistant coach in college football.
The board approved a three-year extension for Elliott which will run through January 31, 2026. Elliott’s raise will be effective on July 1. His $125,000 retention and incentive bonus will be effective on August 1.
According to the USA Today Coaching rankings from 2020, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables is currently ranked No. 1 on the list of highest paid current assistant coaches, making $2.4 million. Clemson is the only football program in the country that has two assistant coaches making at least $2 million per year.
The Compensation Committee also approved the contract of C.J. Spiller to be Swinney’s new running backs coach. Spiller’s two-year contract was approved for $300,000 per year.
Besides Elliott, quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Brandon Streeter was also given a pay increase and had one year added to his contract. He received a $25,000 raise and will make $615,000 per year.
Cornerbacks coach Mike Reed, safeties coach Mickey Conn, defensive tackles coach Todd Bates, defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell, wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham, strength and conditioning coach Joey Batson, associate athletic director for football administration Woody McCorvey, director of player development, freshman transition and external affairs Thad Turnipseed, director of operations and player personnel Mike Dooley, director of player development and external affairs Jeff Davis, director of high school relations and special assistant to the offense Kyle Richardson and director of recruiting operations Jordan Sorrells did not receive an increase in salary, but did receive contract extensions of one year.
Spiller, who played for Clemson from 2006-’09 and became an All-American, replaces Danny Pearman as one of Swinney’s on-field coaches.
Pearman, who has coached the Tigers’ tight ends since 2009, has moved to a new role on Swinney’s staff. He will be Swinney’s director of college scouting, a two-year term.
His salary is now down to $250,000 per year. He made $545,000 as the tight ends coach last season.
Elliott, who has served as Swinney’s running backs coach since 2011, will move over and replace Pearman as the new tight ends coach and as assistant head coach. Since the end of the regular season, Elliott’s name has been linked to head coaching jobs at South Carolina, Auburn and Tennessee, while also being in the discussion to become an offensive coordinator in the NFL. His named was discussed for offensive coordinator openings at Seattle and Miami.
Elliott has been Clemson’s offensive coordinator or co-coordinator since the end of the 2014 season. He and former Clemson assistant Jeff Scott shared the OC duties until Scott left Clemson last year to be the head coach at South Florida.
Clemson has posted an 80-7 record with Elliott in the offensive coordinator’s role. The Tigers have also been one of the more consistent offenses in college football during this time, ranking in the top 10 nationally most years in scoring and total offense.
This past year, Clemson tied for third nationally in scoring (43.5 pts/game) and 10th in total offense (502.3 yds/game). The Tigers also ranked sixth in passing yards per game, setting a program record by averaging 348.5 yards.
Spiller joined Swinney’s support staff last summer to help with the running backs. He became the Tigers’ on-field coach in the Sugar Bowl when Elliott had to miss the game after testing positive for COVID-19.
On Jan. 11, the National Football Foundation announced Spiller was selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2021. Spiller earned the distinction in only his second year of eligibility.
Spiller becomes Clemson’s eighth inductee in the College Football Hall of Fame. John Heisman, who coached Clemson from 1900-03, was Clemson’s first inductee as part of the Class of 1954. Clemson coach and administrator Jess Neely was inducted in 1971. Frank Howard, Clemson’s all-time winningest coach, followed with induction in 1989. Danny Ford, who led Clemson to the 1981 national championship at the age of 33, was Clemson’s most recent inductee, entering the Hall in 2017.
He will be the fourth Clemson player to earn induction, joining multi-sport legend Banks McFadden (1959) as well as two members of Clemson’s 1981 national championship defense — Terry Kinard (2001) and Jeff Davis (2007).
Spiller’s historic Clemson career spanned 2006-09, culminating with a senior season in which he finished sixth in Heisman Trophy voting after winning ACC Player of the Year and being selected as a unanimous first-team All-American. That season, Spiller scored 21 touchdowns and became the first player in ACC history to gain 1,000 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving in the same season.
He still holds ACC single-season and career records for all-purpose yards, posting 2,680 in 2009 and finishing his career with 7,588, still third in FBS history. He gained 3,547 rushing yards, 1,420 receiving yards, 569 punt return yards and 2,052 kickoff return yards. No player in ACC history was within 1,700 career all-purpose yards of Spiller until this year, when Travis Etienne finished his career with 6,894 yards, still 694 yards shy of Spiller’s mark.
One of the most exciting players in the sport’s history, Spiller had 21 career touchdowns covering at least 50 yards. He had eight kick returns for touchdowns in his career, most in ACC history. In the spring of 2010, he was the ninth overall selection in the NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He went on to play eight years in the NFL and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2012.