2008 Clemson Head Ball Coach Search (Alternative Ending)

I started the day by reading Brian's excellent post "Scared Money" this morning. He started that post by reminiscing on the change that Dabo made to Clemson and how it affected us as well. This one quote stood out to me.

Over the next 10 years Virginia Tech would never reach the highs that they did in 2011. It was the beginning of the end. An extinction-level event was coming, we just couldn't see it yet.

It got me thinking (full disclosure I have thought of this often over the years) of how different both programs would be today had Clemson chosen differently and hired Bud Foster. I am not saying that if Clemson had not chosen Dabo that they would have chosen Bud as I know there were other coaches involved in that search. But for the sake of this post I wonder what would have been the net result of choosing Foster to take over the reigns of the Tigers.

Would Bud have elevated their program as Dabo has?
Would the loss of Bud as DC resulted in a faster decline in our beloved Hokies?
Would we have lost less recruits (or lost more recruits due to Bud) to Clemson?
What other fallout would have occurred?

Where would both Virginia Tech and Clemson be today had a different choice been made?

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Comments

If Clemson was still planned to build the hands down best recruiting staff in the ACC (and arguably in the country) to pair with the literal best OC and DCs that money could buy, then I am pretty sure it wouldn't have mattered who they hired as head coach, they were destined to building up fast.

I will not donate to Virginia Tech Athletics as long as Justin Fuente is the head coach of VT Football. Enough is enough.

IMO, there are 3 things that dabo is GREAT at:

  • Identifying coaching talent early
  • Building Culture
  • Managing Up

If Bud went to Clemson, I'm not sure he would've known to build the recruiting apparatus that Dabo did. I'm not sure he would've excelled at any of these three things, to the degree that Dabo did.

I don't think anyone other than Saban could've done what dabo did at Clemson.

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I don't think anyone other than Saban could've done what dabo did at Clemson.

I think someone else could have made Clemson into a top tier program, but perhaps not to the level of Dabo. They were, much to my dismay, very much a sleeping giant with an insanely dedicated network of very wealthy boosters with very low cost of living, and few alternative avenues to direct their wealth. Someone else could have elevated recruiting, enhanced facilities, and developed a winning culture there, but I wouldn't suggest just anyone could replicate exactly what Dabo did.

The real thing that makes what Dabo did hard to replicate is that he made one of the riskiest, and trajectory changing hires I've ever seen in college football when he fired OC BILLY NAPIER(!) after a disappointing 2010 offense wasted a very solid defense, and replaced him with Chad Morris, who had one season as a college football coach (OC at Tulsa). This hire, without question, saved Dabo's job. His seat was scorching hot after 2010, and the boosters'/fans' patience with him was paper thin after a losing 2010 season. They were (mostly) done with the talkative-WR coach-as-HC experiment. The AD though decided to tie his fate together with Dabo and give him another year. They go on to win the ACC for the first(!) time in my lifetime, largely because of their brand new, up-tempo spread offense courtesy of one Chad Morris.

How many coaches would have made such a ballsy hire? That's what makes it so difficult to answer.

1000% agree. Going back to my bullet on identifying coaching talent, Dabo doesn't miss often, but when he does, he course corrects fast (see Napier, Steele).

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I know at least one coach that has stuck with his own version of Napier...

I wish we focused on Football like that.

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Bud leaving probably would have sped up Beamers decline so we might have gotten a few less years of .500 ball and then a better HC then we currently have. Or we could have gotten a worse one. That would have been during the previous ADs stint and while Whit is pretty mediocre he is light years ahead of his predecessors. Interesting thought experiment to be sure

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“I served in the United States Navy"

So I found this article on the 2012 HC hires and grades (at the time). There are some interesting names in this list:
- Chryst
- Freeze
- Leach
- Meyer
- Rich Rodriguez
- Sumlin
- O'Brien...
- Fuente

"What if?" indeed

So I believe what you are saying is that we may have wound up with Fuente even earlier? Or is what you are saying going over my head?

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