ACC: Tony Elliott

The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft has passed. Now let's take a quick look at the biggest draft deadline winners and losers across the ACC:

Winners

Clemson: The Tigers did lose an underclassman: punter Bradley Pinion. Head-scratching, yes. But the reason the Tigers are winners this year is that they held on to all their top offensive talent. While nobody was in position to declare early, it still is notable that this is the first time Clemson has not had an underclassman on offense turn pro since 2010. That could very well change once these freshmen start growing up, but for now, it is good to be co-offensive coordinators Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott.

Duke: The Blue Devils had only one player who could have potentially left early: safety Jeremy Cash. When he announced he would return to school, there must have been a huge sigh of relief. Not only does the Duke secondary now return all its starters, it returns its best player. Cash had 111 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 2 interceptions and 4 forced fumbles this past season. With linebacker Kelby Brown (ACL) expected healthy for 2015, Duke potentially has two of the best defensive players in the ACC.

Notre Dame: So the Irish have only one toe in the ACC football waters, but they did end up a huge winner, and that is something teams with Notre Dame on the 2015 schedule need to know. All underclassmen who could have returned did: defensive lineman Sheldon Day, left tackle Ronnie Stanley, center/guard Nick Martin and quarterback Everett Golson (at least for now). Stanley was the biggest surprise because some had projected him as a first-round pick on a few early mock drafts. While Golson's status remains unclear, getting Day, Stanley and Martin back means expectations will again be high in South Bend, Indiana.

Losers

Florida State: The Seminoles might be the biggest draft-deadline loser in the country, with five players turning pro early this year: quarterback Jameis Winston, cornerbacks P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby, defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. Of that group, Winston and Goldman are listed on the first Mel Kiper Jr. mock draft. Losing players to the draft is nothing new for the Seminoles, but they have taken heavy losses from their underclassmen in the past three years: 12 in all. Add to that losses from a terrific senior group, including Rashad Greene, Nick O'Leary and Karlos Williams, and 2015 might end up being a bit of a rebuilding year for the Seminoles as they get a boatload of young guys ready to play. On the bright side, kicker Roberto Aguayo and linebacker Terrance Smith announced they would return to school.

Louisville: Many expected safety Gerod Holliman to leave after he tied an NCAA record with 14 interceptions, despite some questions about his pro potential. But losing defensive backs Charles Gaines and James Sample has to be a blow the Cardinals were not quite expecting. Louisville, which ranked No. 5 in the nation in pass efficiency defense, must now replace five of its top six defensive backs in 2015. Put another way, Louisville is losing players responsible for 21 of the 26 interceptions it had last season.

Miami: While we all expected running back Duke Johnson to leave, losing him is still tough for a Miami offense that revolved heavily around him in the past three seasons. Johnson leaves as the school's all-time career all-purpose yards and rushing yards leader. Add the departure of offensive tackle Ereck Flowers and now Miami has to replace its two best underclassmen, plus top seniors Clive Walford and Denzel Perryman.
Clemson did not have to look far for its new offensive coordinator.

Scratch that. For its co-offensive coordinators.

Coach Dabo Swinney decided to promote two assistants to fill the spot new SMU coach Chad Morris left behind: receivers coach Jeff Scott and running backs coach Tony Elliott will share the duties.

It is an interesting move, considering Morris was one of the highest paid coordinators in the entire country. Swinney could have paid big bucks to an assistant on the rise.

But Swinney believes he has two assistants on the rise on his own staff. Not only did Scott and Elliott learn under Morris, they helped recruit and develop the offensive talent that returns for 2015.

"These are two of the brightest young coaches in the business," Swinney said in a statement. "They have had a huge impact on our offense when it comes to the overall game plan, game day decisions, coaching their positions and have also been big reasons for our recruiting success.

"One of my overall philosophies is to promote from within when it is feasible. Both of these coaches are highly qualified and ready for this opportunity. We have been prepared to make this staff move for some time.

"Tony and Jeff were teammates at Clemson at the same position for three years and have worked together as coaches for four. They have a great relationship.”

Swinney obviously thought about this well before Morris left Monday. He had to, because Morris had been linked to other head coaching jobs over the last several years. It was only a matter of time before he left to become a head coach.

What he leaves behind is perhaps the most talented offensive team in the ACC next season. Quarterback Deshaun Watson is a rising star, so long as he can stay healthy. So are Artavis Scott and Wayne Gallman, not to mention Tyshon Dye, Adam Choice and Mike Williams. Everybody except Watson has been coached by either Scott or Elliott.

Scott had a hand in bringing all those players in as recruiting coordintor. Since he took that job in 2009, Clemson has had Top 20 recruiting classes every single season. The 2015 class is currently ranked No. 4.

The only real question is how play-calling duties will be split. Neither one has been a coordinator before, so they will have to learn on the fly. The benefit is the two are close, having played together at Clemson. Perhaps that relationship will allow for a smooth transition.

Because after an up-and-down season, all eyes will be back on the Clemson offense in 2015, with the expectation that the aerial show will résumé.

Dabo Swinney invests in his program

February, 16, 2012
2/16/12
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Talk about putting your money where your mouth is.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has taken it upon himself -- basically out of his own pocket -- to give his assistants raises.

There is a clause in Swinney's contract stating that if he won the ACC, he would rise to a certain level from a salary standpoint among ACC coaches. When he won the 2011 title, that meant this year's contract would increase by $422,000. He is taking $265,000 of that to give to his coaches. Technically, it's an allocation -- not money he has already received. It is money he would have received -- and that is the key difference between what Swinney is doing and what Georgia coach Mark Richt did.

Regardless, it's a true investment in his program -- one I've never heard of or seen elsewhere in the college coaching ranks -- and odds are it will pay off. It is proof of the literal value of coaching stability.

Swinney's decision stems from today's announcement that the Compensation Committee of the Clemson Board of Trustees approved a proposal from athletic director Terry Don Phillips to grant salary increases totaling $450,000 for seven assistant football coaches, and the head strength coach. It will be in effect for two years, and 60 percent of that money is coming from Swinney. The remaining 40 percent, or $185,000 will be provided by the athletic department.

According to the school's release, Swinney is expected to make $1.9 million in 2012, which will rank 46th nationally according to the most recent data available to Phillips. The staff, including the head coach, is expected to rank between 12th and 15th.

“Coach Swinney has opted to invest in the stability of the program with money he earned in 2011,” Phillips said in a prepared statement. “We have a young football team returning for 2012 and 2013 and he felt it was imperative to have stability from a staff standpoint. These are all options that had been in his existing contract.”

“I am extremely grateful to the Board of Trustees for its approval of these salary increases,” Swinney said in the release. “We have a great staff and I want to do everything I can to keep it together at a critical time in our program. We have a young, but talented team and I feel we have a chance to do something very special in the near future.”

Earlier, it was announced that offensive coordinator Chad Morris would earn $1.3 million and defensive coordinator Brent Venables would earn $800,000 during the 2012 season, meaning Clemson’s nine full-time assistant coaches will earn $4.2 million.

Here is the official run-down of the remaining staff salaries recently approved by the Board of Trustees:

Joey Batson (strength coach) $200,000

Dan Brooks $310,000

Robbie Caldwell $310,000

Tony Elliott $205,000

Charlie Harbison $375,000

Marion Hobby $375,000

Danny Pearman $310,000

Jeff Scott $215,000

ACC's lunchtime links

August, 3, 2011
8/03/11
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How many days until kickoff?

Clemson hires Tony Elliott

January, 13, 2011
1/13/11
11:29
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Former Clemson receiver Tony Elliott has returned to the school as running backs coach. Elliott has spent the past three years as a wide receivers coach at Furman University.

Swinney was Elliott’s position coach in his senior season (2003). Elliott finished his career with 34 career receptions for 455 yards and two touchdowns. The original walk-on lettered four years (2000-03) and played in 44 career games, four as a starter. He graduated from Clemson in 2002.

Elliott entered the business world after his playing days were over at Clemson and worked with Michelin North America for two years. He returned to coaching in 2006 as an assistant at South Carolina State. He helped the Bulldogs to consecutive 7-4 seasons in 2006 and 2007. The 2006 team was 23rd in the nation in total offense.

Elliott became the wide receivers coach at Furman in 2008. He helped Furman to a 7-5 record his first year. In 2009 the Paladins ranked No. 20 in the nation in scoring offense and the team was 25th in scoring in 2010 under coach Bobby Lamb. Elliott had been retained by new Furman coach Bruce Fowler in December.

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