Clemson Football

Sounds Familiar: Scott says South Florida is about to have 'best decade in school history'

December 12, 2019
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Legend has it that Dabo Swinney knew Clemson was on the verge of greatness when many people were left scratching their heads.

The story of Swinney’s rise in college football lore was no accident, and the Tigers are currently reaping the benefits of sticking with the unproven wide receivers coach with little coordinating experience.

But there were some who may have been ready to show Swinney the door. In 2010, Clemson suffered its first losing season in 12 years and fans were hot. The Tigers lost to in-state rival South Carolina 29-7 and fell to the South Florida Bulls 31-26 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, stumbling to a 6-7 record.

Many changes were on the horizon for Clemson, but there was a collective feeling on the outside that Swinney did not have much longer in Tiger Town. In his postgame press conference after the South Florida loss, Swinney told reporters, “I don’t blame (the fans) for being upset. I’m upset, and it’s nobody’s fault but mine. If I was sitting in their shoes, I’d probably be questioning me and doubting me, too...  It’s going to be a new year starting tomorrow, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Later, Swinney told his team that Clemson was about to have its best decade in program history. Looking back over the past 10 years, we know now that Swinney was right on the money.

Later, Swinney told his team that Clemson was about to have its best decade in program history.

Looking back over the past 10 years, we know now that Swinney was right on the money.

There was a trust and belief within then-Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips to keep Swinney around through what was a rough patch. Since that loss to South Florida, Clemson is 110-15 with six ACC championships and two out of the last three national championships.

That’s why it was so interesting when Jeff Scott, Clemson’s co-offensive coordinator who has risen through the coaching ranks, addressed South Florida fans on Wednesday as he was introduced as the program’s new head coach. Scott, a coach who has been a prized recruiter at his alma mater and one of the top assistants in the country, assured those in attendance at his introductory presser the type of program he wants to build.

"Here in about 20 days, we're getting ready to start a new decade,” Scott said in closing. “I firmly believe that if we come together, we unite, that this will be the start of the best decade in the University of South Florida football history."

Sounds familiar.

We shouldn’t be surprised that Scott, one of the first significant branches from Swinney’s coaching tree, used some similar dialogue to what he’s been accustomed to at Clemson. Chad Morris did it as well when he met with his team at Arkansas for the first time two years ago, saying the standard is “best.”

It’s a testament to being submerged in the culture Swinney has been able to build at Clemson. Now Scott is taking pieces of what he has learned from Swinney and establishing that as his foundation for his “United from start to finish” culture.

In his first team meeting, Scott told players they were going to work hard, but they were going to have plenty of fun along the way. He also said one of his five ways the Bulls were going to build unity was by creating a family atmosphere.

That type of family atmosphere was displayed on Wednesday as his Clemson counterpart, Tony Elliot, and his replacement as wide receivers coach, Tyler Grisham, were on hand in Tampa Bay to show their support. The staff was also joined by Artavis Scott, a former Clemson receiver Scott recruited from Tampa, who is now with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Before Scott met with USF, Vice President of Athletics, Michael Kelly, gave Swinney a call inquiring about Scott. Later that night, at around 11:30 p.m., Swinney called Scott and told him, “let me tell you, this is one of them jobs you want.”

Scott continued, "(Swinney) said, 'Great university, great location, great conference, great recruiting base right in your backyard. You can win there and they have a great athletic director in Michael Kelly.'"

Scott continued, "(Swinney) said, 'Great university, great location, great conference, great recruiting base right in your backyard. You can win there and they have a great athletic director in Michael Kelly.'"

That’s all Scott needed to hear.

This was all about timing for Scott, which we will dive more into later. He felt that this opportunity, one that has been circled on his calendar, was the right move and perfect fit after being under Swinney during the duration of Clemson’s rise since 2008.

Swinney promoted Scott to co-offensive coordinator in 2014 after Morris decided to take a head coaching job at SMU. Instead of going out and making a “splash hire”, Swinney was loyal to two guys who had been with him since day one.

And they’ve delivered. As of now, Clemson is 69-4 since Scott and Elliott took over calling the plays and the Tigers have not looked back. Now USF is hoping Scott can transfer those winning ways to the Bay area.

Of course, there is still work left to be done before Scott leaves Clemson for good. There’s a third national championship in four years Clemson is playing for, and we wouldn’t expect anything other than a strong finish from Scott before he continues his coaching journey.

But we may hear more familiar phrases from Scott’s Clemson roots along the way.

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Sounds Familiar: Scott says South Florida is about to have 'best decade in school history'

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