12 years ago...Clemson hired Dabo as head coach

Do we give Fuente 12 years? Do we change the guard once again? I for one am in awe of our offense this year and I believe the staff gets a pas for 2020. Fuente has made some questionable decisions at QB I will admit. But I think with Hooker we will finish strong as long as we get our defensive players back. Just an interesting article about how Clemson stuck with Dabo and the success they have had.

....Since finishing the 2010 season with a 6-7 record, the Tigers have gone 111-26. Just a few of Dabo Swinney's long list of accomplishments are winning two out of four national championship games, winning six ACC titles, seven Atlantic Division titles, and he has been awarded a total of 11 different Coach of the Year trophies for various organizations.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.si.com/.amp-clemson/college/clemson/football/dabo-swinney-and-clemsons-10-year-transformation

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Who will be our QB after Hooker?

Tahj, likely

Never Forget #1 Overall Seed UVA 54, #64 UMBC 74

Given the context of this post, I immediately thought Tajh Boyd when I read your comment.

Marshall University graduate.
Virginia Tech fanatic.
Formerly known as JWillHokieAlum.

QP for a year and then we literally have nobody lol

I just sit on my couch and b*tch. - HokieChemE2016

Knox Kadum?

Now finish up them taters; I'm gonna go fondle my sweaters.

my b my b forgot about Bullock.

Knox Kadum isn't going to start here though.

I just sit on my couch and b*tch. - HokieChemE2016

that's literally 4 years from now assuming everyone stays their full eligibility. No school has it planned that far ahead. But even then, Tahj Bullock or Knox Kadum theoretically.

Well we have what 2 more years of Hooker if he wants? This year doesn't count.

Think it's safe to say we're not on the same path as Clemson

I read somewhere that every coach to win a national championship since the start of the BCS era has won his conference within the first three (full) years that he coached at his school. It seems correct (even thinking back to Mack Brown at Texas, Pete Carroll USC teams, etc), but I have not verified it, so apply necessary skepticism.

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Every school that has won a national title in the BCS+ era has won one prior.

Kind of sucks to think that the hundred plus of years of crappy Hokie football before Dooley and Beamer is why we are where we are today.

Previously LowBrau.

It's true 13 out of 16 times.

1998 - Tennessee won the first BCS title game in Fulmer's 6th full season, but Fulmer's only conference titles came in years 5 and 6.

1999 - FSU. Bowden's first 16 seasons were as an independent. However, he won the ACC the first nine years he was in the conference.

2000 - Oklahoma won both the Big 12 and natty in Bob Stoops' second season.

2001 - Miami won both the Big East and the natty in Larry Coker's first season.

2002 - Ohio State won both the Big Ten and natty in Jim Tressel's second season.

2003 - LSU in Saban's 4th year, but he had previously won the SEC in year 2.

2004 - USC in Carroll's 4th year, but he won or tied for 1st in the Pac-10 every year except his first and last.

2005 - Texas in Mack Brown's 8th season. Mack had won his division and/or played in the Big 12 championship game in the past, but that was the first year he had won the conference.

2006, 2008 - Florida won both the SEC and natty in Urban's 2nd and 4th seasons.

2007 - LSU won the SEC and natty in Les Miles' 3rd season.

2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017 - Alabama with Saban. Saban's first SEC and natty at Bama came in year 3.

2010 - Auburn won the SEC and natty in Chizik's 2nd season.

2013 - FSU won the natty in Jimbo's 4th season, after previously winning the ACC in his 3rd season. (He could have won the ACC in his first year if it wasn't for VT.)

2014 - Ohio State won both the Big Ten and natty in Urban's third year. (Although Urban finished first in the division all 7 years he was at OSU.)

2016, 2018 - Clemson didn't win a natty with Dabo until his 8th full year, but they won the ACC in his third full season (thanks to VT).

2019 - LSU won the SEC and natty in Orgeron's third full season.

Maybe I'm just dumb, but isn't this more or less confirming that most of the people who did win a championship that early in their coaching stop a) won their conference the same year of their title (a prerequisite in the BCS era), and b) did it at school's that are traditionally strong (i.e. blue bloods +)?

Clemson always had the resources to be good at football. They just dicked around for awhile. Dabo took over, had a vision, demanded help from the athletic department, and turned Clemson into a top two team in the ACC in three seasons (starting with 2009) and the class of the conference shortly after. I'm not sure if a) VT will ever have those capabilities and b) Whit would be willing to sacrifice the quality of other sports to field an elite football team. Say what you want about Jim Weaver, but he wanted Tech to be good at football above all else, consistent with the fans. This doesn't go for everyone, but I know I'm not alone when I say I don't really care what the other sports do. If they're on national television, sure, I'll watch and root for them. I have a tough time deciding how I feel about men's basketball. On one hand, I thoroughly enjoyed the Buzz years, and the sweet sixteen run was incredible. On the other, the JJ years were whatever. I wasn't that upset by them. Going 7-6 or even 8-5 in football though? That upsets me. College football programs are in an arms race now and forever more so than any other college sport, and that's the sport a lot of us follow the closest.

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This is mostly right except we would have beaten 2009 Clemson by two or three scores. 2009 is one of our best ever teams by analytics. We just two bad weeks. Even with that we still finished as the highest ranked ACC team and in the top 10.

That was a frustrating two weeks. But beating the shit out of that Lane Kiffin Tennessee team was a sweet consolation, admittedly.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

I meant that 2009 was basically Dabo's first year, so they weren't top two in the ACC till about 2011 when they manhandled us twice. But yes, 2009 is still one of the most frustrating teams I can remember. So much better than a Chick Fil A Bowl win, similar to how the 2005 team was much better than a Gator Bowl win.

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Great post. To me, you can either structure your athletics department and try to be balanced, allocating resources across the board, or you maximize your returns and invest the most in those programs that generate the most revenue. I honestly think Clemson's all-in strategy was brilliant given their AD budget and fundraising pre-Dabo. We were outpacing them 10 years ago, believe it or not. By focusing all of their efforts on making football as good as it could be, even though that meant cutting funding for other programs, they have had resounding success. It's a "rising tide lifts all boats" strategy that now has made them one of the most lucrative athletics departments in the nation. Look at the money now they have been able to pour into renovating their basketball stadium and improve other sports from the success of football. They even recently created a softball program which they didn't have before.

If it were up to me, I would be trying to replicate Clemson's method at VT given we are a school with a football culture. We aren't UVA or UNC with the resources to spend and perform at a high level in everything. We need to focus on our strengths, and as success comes in football, the rest of the department can ride the wave. Unfortunately, I don't know if that is the focus of our current administration. I could care less about competing in the Director's Cup standings, given our overall athletics finances situation, versus seriously competing for a national title in football

I agree with everything you said. And it wasn't like it was all doom and gloom for all other athletics when football was prioritized. The basketball team made the second round in the 2006-07 season. They should have made the tournament at least once in the four years after. I actually think what we have right now in Mike Young could really work with what basketball was working with back then. The softball team went on that really good run with Angela Tincher leading the way. That was a lot of fun. The baseball team made the tournament in the early 2010s I believe. And at the end of the day if those sports weren't performing well, we were still more than satisfied as fans because the football team was winning 10 games and competing for ACC championships. Whit Babcock is a good AD, one that I think any athletic department in America would be happy to have. He's obviously working tirelessly to make the football program what we want it to be. I'm just afraid the thing that will ultimately get us there is not something he is comfortable doing.

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I think it's not just an athletics dept thing - You need complete alignment between the University, the Athletic Dept, the football team, and the alumni/donor base. VT does not have that.

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At what point does Whit start catching criticism for this? There's plenty of hate for Fuente - no personality, can't recruit, bad in-game, no identity, hemorrhaging players to the portal, etc.

Whit hired that guy. Has he given him the tools? Will he? Can he?

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While I disagree with most (not all) of the criticism for Fuente, I don't think it's as simple as 'Whit hired Fuente, so he should replace him;' you have to remember that VT lost its three figureheads (Beamer, Weaver, and Steager) within a 2.5 year period. The University, Athletic Dept, and Football team are all having mild identity crises at the moment, and none of them have the (exact) same goals right now. This is a recipe for organizational failure.

IMO, the BoV/Sands needs to discuss what they want our athletic department to look like, how it fits into our school's greater mission, and what sacrifices (if any) they're prepared to make in order to get there.

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I only meant to say that Fuente catches a LOT of criticism for the direction of the program (because he is the coach, I get it) but the main factors that contribute to our "trajectory" are bigger than the head coach, yet Whit seems to be almost universally praised on this forum.

you have to remember that VT lost its three figureheads (Beamer, Weaver, and Steager) within a 2.5 year period. The University, Athletic Dept, and Football team are all having mild identity crises at the moment, and none of them have the (exact) same goals right now. This is a recipe for organizational failure.

This is great context.

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Pre Dabo, Tech spent more on football

Recruit Prosim

Makes sense.

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Not entirely true...

Here's the two schools' Athletic Dept spending from 2005-2018. You'll see VT spending and Clemson spending are always within $5m of each other (despite Clemson having less sports) until 2016. Starting in 2016, Clemson's spending is about $15m+/year.

This report compares the two schools' Athletic Dept revenues from 2005-2018. From 2005 through 2013, VT made more money than Clemson every year but one (2009), in some years $5m-$7m more than Clemson. That changed in 2014, and DRASTICALLY changed in 2016.

IMO, this data tells the story of Jim Weaver's risk aversion, and how he prioritized saving over investing.

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Good shit

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Does anyone actually believe we are on a Clemson trajectory with our recruiting results the last two cycles? That's a stretch for me to buy into.

I have no idea why my username is VT_Warthog.

Arkansas blew a 24-0 lead in the Belk Bowl.

Wishful thinking

no, but we are on a Klumpson trajectory!

"Take care of the little things and the big things will come."

Thats a bingo.

And the part that people forget is that Clemson recruited well before Dabo took over. The last 5 years under Bowden, they had multiple Top 20 classes and a couple in the Top 10 (possibly Top5, I don't remember exactly). They just needed to get a staff in there that would streamline what they already did well and would have the coaching acumen to capitalize on it on game day. Then reorganizing to go all in on football to maximize funding to their moneymaker pushed them over the top.

No, we aren't on a Clemson trajectory. We haven't shown we are competent enough in recruiting before the influx of funding to even attempt it. Unfortunately, there is one school in our division who is. UNC.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

From a Blue Chip ratio standpoint, it's Miami, not North Carolina. From a purely subjective momentum standpoint, I would give North Carolina a thin edge.

The difference is that I don't think Miami is as dedicated financially as Clemson was when they made the move or as dedicated as UNC is now. But yeah, if I'm wrong and they are pouring money into it like the others, then yeah, they're absolutely on that track as well.

Either way, as a VT alumni or fan, its worth keeping an eye on what these other programs are doing, because it will have a direct impact on our ability to compete.

King Alum of the House Hokie, the First of His Name, Khal of the Turkey Legs, The rightful Heir to the Big Board, the Unbanned, Breaker of Trolls and Father of Gritty

Best decision they have made. With their resources and location all they needed was a quality head coach that hires amazing coordinators. Be interesting to see if they can keep him when Saban retires from Bama

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I am reserving my final judgement until Hooker has expended his eligibility. He's really the first good fit at QB for Fuente since Evans. Jackson, Willis, QP, and BB have all been forced into action by circumstances outside of Fu's control for the most part.

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CJF won't be here 12 years. If he starts finishing 6-6 or 5-7, he'll be fired once his buyout drops. If he somehow turns it around and has two 9 or 10 win seasons in a row again, he'll move on to another program.

This is tough. Fuente was hired to improve the offense and Bud was going to hold up on the defensive side. The recruiting focus shifted a bit toward the offensive side with higher numbers of players being accepted on that side of the ball to try to give Fuente and Corny some clay to work with. Its taken too much time and effort to get the offense going and the defense has begun to suffer. The reduction in scholarship offers on the defensive side has exacerbated the recruiting misses and now we have a team that is almost completely opposite of when Fuente hired and on top of that, Bud retired and we have to break in a new DC. If Fuente is going to succeed, he will have to get sharper on the recruiting trail and start hitting on offensive players that can get the job done rather than tying up scholarships to see what sticks. We should be 6-7 deep on DE & DT and 8 deep on DB scholarships, not RBs.

We may never know how bought in Fuente was on the Hamilton as the DC. Was he the 1st choice or the affordable back stop. Either way Fuente is tied to him and his results and he will have to figure out a way to support him to make the team successful, which is how Fuente will be measured. 2020 is a freebie for Fuente, but his seat should be getting warm if the defense doesn't start to show signs of strength by the end of next year. Same for recruiting. 2021 class better be impressive or I think Fuente's days should be numbered.

That said, the teams that seem to cycle through coaches every 3 years with a grass is always greener view, never seem to find success. If Fuente gets the boot, there should be a minimum 5 year window on the next guy.

Whatever. It was one bad year.

Seasonal Brew means High ABV for football season and standard the rest of the year.

VT played in a BCS bowl- with it's only losses to Clemson all year after the 2011 season. This was with LT, Coale, David Wilson as the primary offensive weapons. In that game, Bud implemented a masterful gameplan that had Michigan's dynamic QB trying to piece together a couple first downs. THAT was VT football- tough defense, win 10-11 games through scheme and coaching, play in big bowls. Fuente was hired, not to run more post patterns- but to "elevate" the program. Win BCS games. Put together an elevated offense. Elevate recruiting- which Whit specifically mentioned. Elevate the perception that we can't win unless we block a punt and hold the other team to 10 points. That is what he was hired to do. IMO he is going to be given 2 more years max to win the coastal at least or he will be sent packing. At VT, football is king. We shouldn't tolerate Miami and UNC in our division being too steep a hill to get over. That's bullshit.

At VT football WAS king under Weaver, but with Sands/Whit, I'm not sure that is true anymore. We can argue about whether it SHOULD be or not, but I kinda get the feeling that it isn't, or we might see a couple more reductions in other scholarship sports.

Get Angry, Bud!

football WAS king under Weaver

Under Weaver, a balanced budget was king, with Football being a tool to get there. At other programs, it's the opposite - a healthy budget is the tool used to promote and advance football.

Right now, VT wants to do too much IMO. We want to move up the directors cup rankings, but we want to be good at football. We want to raise money everywhere (including Athletics), but we require the academic side of the university to reach out to donors before allowing the athletic department to reach out.

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Under Weaver, a balanced budget was king, with Football being a tool to get there. At other programs, it's the opposite - a healthy budget is the tool used to promote and advance football.

Ask any VT wrestling fans how Weaver let a top coach leave for Iowa, with 12+ wrestlers in tow, and had the paperwork ready to torpedo the program. The man had the paperwork filled out. He did not care about the other sports at VT.

Whit, for his efforts, has at least put the time and energy into the other programs. Have you seen English Field? It's fantastic.

but we require the academic side of the university to reach out to donors before allowing the athletic department to reach out.

This this this this this times infinity. We have struggled, piss poorly to recruit recent grads into the Hokie Club. Imagine all the graduates from 04 thru 11, who have seen good VT football, who at some point decide to be a part of the Hokie Club. That generation of VT students and football fans alone would help out immensely.

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I also remember this during Dabo Swinney's tenure at Clemson

I would gladly trade a few moments like this to get to where Clemson is.

Is coronavirus over yet?

When is VT going to set up in the churches so we can start leveling the playing field with st. Dabo?

Clemson's smartest decision was to give Dabo an unlimted budget for hiring top assistants and recruiters. If VT gives Fu a blank check, we will be begging him to stay 12 years in. Dabo is not Joe Gibbs or Bellichick in terms of X and O's - but at the college level - Brent Venables is, etc.

Clemson also did a great job of identifying and developing (offensive) coaching talent:

  • Chad Morris was hired after one year of college coaching (he had 15 years experience as a high school coach), and was paid $450k in 2011.
  • Tony Elloitt spent 5 years as a Wide Receivers coach at South Carolina State and then Furman before being hired to coach RBs at Clemson. He was paid $140k in when hired in 2011
  • Jeff Scott coached one year of high school ball, then coached WRs at Presbyterian for one year before being hired to coach WR's at Clemson. He was paid $150k in when hired in 2011

Jafar Williams (who many thought was a mediocre hire) had more experience coaching college athletes than any of these guys, and was paid $260k in year one. Maybe dabo is lucky. Maybe he has an eye for talent.

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The eye for talent vs. lucky distinction is something I'm paying close attention to at UNC. Longo and Bateman are top notch coordinators and will probably move on to head coaching jobs before too long. Can Mack find two A+ coordinators again? Possibly, but I think it's far from a given. Will UNC's recruiting carry them through bad coordinators? Possibly, but again there are plenty of examples of bad staffs squandering lots of talent.

I think Dabo has had remarkable consistency with his staff. He has replaced high level offensive coordinators with more of the same and found a defensive coordinator who seemed content to stay at Clemson until the sun burns out. Both are pretty rare.

Mack Brown is on (a fucking brilliant) 4-5 year plan tops. Get some talent in there with great recruiters, win a mediocre coastal division, maybe catch Clemson on a down day in the ACC CG, ride off into the sunset with a BCS win and a huge, fat, I told you so and golden parachute check. You don't need a great coaching staff to win the coastal. You need some 4 and 5 star recruits that are kryptonite to VT, GT, UVA and Pitt- those schools all struggle to bring in 4-5 star players consistently.

I also believe that from both UNC and Mack's perspective the (so far successful) plan is for Mack to get the excitement, money, and recruiting flowing back into the program and build their football program into a desirable landing spot for the next hires. He elevates the program standard, builds a talented roster, and suddenly that UNC job with a Coastal path to the ACCCG game every year becomes a pretty tempting pitch for future coaches.

So I mostly agree with you and the response to your post that Mack and UNC want to build excitement around UNC, which they've probably done. So well done them on that.

I do have to push back a little bit though. You do need good coaching to win the Coastal. If all you needed was good recruiting classes, why has Miami only won the division once, ever? I totally agree that UNC could potentially become a very attractive job because of its current excitement factor and being in a relatively weak division, but it still takes good coaching AND good recruiting to ever challenger for anything more than division titles. So, even if Mack is going to ride off into the sunset soon, I'm still interested to see how UNC replaces him/his coordinators.

My only probably with this is that the more I watch Chad Morris the more I wonder how he did a good job at Clemson. Watching Auburn this year is tough, they do some amazingly inept things that shouldn't be system dependant. Like there are 5 guys in the box, the center should really double team some one. I often wonder if some of the coordinators and talent were why Clemson won.

I was actually really wanted us to hire Chad Morris for HC in 2016. Happy I was wrong about that one.

I don't know what's going on at Auburn, but I thought it was a weird hire to be honest. Was Gus hiring Morris to run Gus's system, or was Gus hiring Morris to run the same system he ran at Clemson, or something else? I also don't think Bo Nix is a good fit for either system IMO.

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Yeah I was on the Chad Morris bandwagon too. Its probably the biggest mistake of my life outside of not joining TKP earlier.

It's tough to parallel the Clemson path with most schools. They had been landing a handful of studs via recruiting every year, but the critical tipping point with Clemson was the offseason after their 6-7 2010 campaign. Dabo makes the ACCCG in 2009 with the roster he inherited, not unlike Fuente's early success with the bevy of NFL players he inherited. 2010 was a disaster. Their offense took a nosedive with the departure of CJ Spiller and Jacoby Ford and the talk around Dabo was pretty similar to Fuente post the inherited guys. He was in way over his head, he won with inherited players, etc.

Here's where the shift happens that makes it difficult to replicate: Dabo gets the "we're either blowing up or going down together" backing of AD Terry Don Phillips amid significant booster pressure and unrest. He makes the most important hire of his career, and it's not Brent Venables. Dabo fires OC Billy Napier and takes a gamble on Tulsa OC Chad Morris to turn around his offense.

Context: Chad Morris had been a college assistant for one season. His 2008 and 2009 seasons were spent as the head coach of Lake Travis High School in Texas (Michael Brewer's HS).

The HUNH spread paid instant returns in 2011. Clemson had the best offense of my lifetime to that point, and that was the most excitement I have ever seen around the Clemson program. The first 7-8 weeks of 2011, Dabo's self-appointed "Shock the World Tour" would eventually end in bittersweet fashion despite winning their first ACC championship of my lifetime as they lost four of their last six games, including a horrendous blowout finale to WVU. However, this laid the groundwork that they built the rest of the program on. The Dabo marketing campaigns, the exciting offense, and all around commitment to football, including another swift firing of an assistant with DC Kevin Steele, leading to the hire of probably the best assistant coach in the country in Brent Venables.

Brent Venables was a big time hire, he was proven at the highest level of college football, but it was the hyper aggressive gamble of hiring a one year G5 offensive coordinator in January 2011. That was the difference between Dabo never getting another HC gig and building a top 3 program in the country. This is the part of trying to follow the "Clemson plan" that is most difficult to replicate.

Dabo fires OC Billy Napier and takes a gamble on Tulsa OC Chad Morris to turn around his offense.

I said this right above, but you can't understand what a gamble this was. Dabo literally bet his entire (head) coaching career on an offensive that had 3 guys with a combine 7 years of COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHING EXPERIENCE, and one veteran ACC OL coach, for a total of just over $1,015,000.

Dabo gets the "we're either blowing up or going down together" backing of AD Terry Don Phillips

including another swift firing of an assistant with DC Kevin Steele

Dabo's team fails fast, and learns from their mistakes faster. It reminds me very much of the lean startup mentality.

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Man, Chris, that sounds like the storyboard for a great "30 For 30" episode.

I'm sorry but this is almost like satire. In Dabos first 5 years he got 34-4*s and 4-5*s. In Fuentes first 5 years we've gotten 20-4*s and 0-5*s. That's not even that bad. Our 2018 and 2019 classes were actually pretty stout. But after 5 years the products are headed in complete opposite directions. Our 2020 and 2021 so far really just aren't impressive and have me extremely worried

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Those lucky bastards.

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