During Clemson Football’s National Signing Day show on Wednesday from the Allen N. Reeves Football Complex, Nick Eason joined Clemson director of broadcasting Don Munson and shared the story of how he got the job opportunity to return to his alma mater as a member of Dabo Swinney’s coaching staff.
Eason, of course, was officially named the Tigers’ defensive run game coordinator/defensive tackles coach on Jan. 7, replacing Clemson’s former defensive tackles coach, Todd Bates, who left Clemson in January to join Brent Venables’ staff at Oklahoma as its associate head coach/co-defensive coordinator.
“It was kind of just something that just kind of popped up out of nowhere,” Eason said of getting the Clemson job. “I was actually getting ready to go in and eat brunch, and Coach (Swinney) had called me. I was sitting in the car, and he wanted to let me know that Coach Bates had left and I was the first guy he called to take the job. I was kind of just overwhelmed with happiness and really didn’t know what to say at the time.”
The opportunity to return to Clemson represented a dream come true for Eason, a defensive end for the Tigers from 1999-2002.
Still, after spending this past season as the defensive line coach at Auburn, the decision to leave his players there behind wasn’t an easy one for Eason to make. So, he did his due diligence by having conversations with those players to get their approval for him to accept the Clemson gig.
“For me, I do care about my kids that I coach, and so those kids were important to me,” Eason said. “So, I had asked Coach to kind of give me some time to let me talk to the kids, make sure they were OK with me leaving. Because players don’t care how much you know till they know how much you care, and so that’s part of coaching, man. You have to love on your kids first as young men, and so that was important to me. So, I talked to them, and they were saying, ‘Coach, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you to get to go back and coach at your alma mater.’ So, I got their blessings.”
Eason also had a conversation with Derek Mason, who was Auburn’s defensive coordinator this past season and is now headed to take the same job at Oklahoma State.
Eason got to know Mason when Eason was a part of the Tennessee Titans’ coaching staff as assistant defensive line coach/defensive line coach from 2014-17, when Mason was the head coach at Vanderbilt.
“I had an opportunity to talk to Coach Derek Mason, who I knew when I was coaching with the Tennessee Titans,” Eason said. “We’ve become very good friends. He’s like my brother, and he kind of told me the same thing as well – that they would miss me, but not to pass up the opportunity.”
He didn’t, and at that point, he let Swinney know that he wanted to come back to Clemson and join his staff.
“And then I had another conversation with Coach Swinney,” Eason said. “He was excited, I was excited.”
“And it’s just been the joy and the love that I’ve received, not only from the Auburn fans when I left – they were very supportive of it – but the welcoming here from the Clemson fans has been out of this world,” Eason added.
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