Tony Elliott to Tennessee Would Make Sense

Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott might find himself in a situation that's too good to pass up if Tennessee athletic director Danny White comes calling.
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Tony Elliott is a man of faith, timing, responsibility and loyalty. 

He values where he is, not where he's headed next, and the Clemson offensive coordinator wants to be in a stable situation. 

None of those things above have lined up at the right time for the right job. It's why, despite hearing Elliott's name mentioned for numerous college head coaching jobs and play-calling opportunities in the NFL, he's still in charge of the Tigers' vaunted offense after 10 seasons with the program, including six years calling plays. 

Is that about to change? Tennessee happens to have an opening for a head coach, and it's the offseason. Elliott's already been rumored as a candidate and there many reasons that it would make a lot of sense. 

Elliott has interviewed for other positions. He has talked to athletic directors looking to hire a strong offensive mind. But he's generally been coaching Clemson in ACC Championship Games and College Football Playoff semifinals during the sport's primary firing and hiring season. 

Elliott prefers to give his full attention to the Tigers and the players he's recruited and developed during the month of December. He feels like he owes it to them to not be out shopping himself during preparation for the most critical games of the season. 

It's admirable, but it's also likely cost him some solid opportunities. The job in Knoxville, however, didn't come open until last week, when the Tennessee administration fired coach Jeremy Pruitt for NCAA violations and sent AD Phil Fulmer into retirement. 

The timing certainly works, but is this the kind of situation that would draw Elliott away from Tiger Town? After all, his mentor, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, has taught his assistants for years that their next step should be at a place with good bosses and good people around them who will help them succeed. 

UT is a tad dysfunctional right now, or it at least appeared that way before the school hired former UCF athletic director Danny White to take over for Fulmer. White has a strong track record of good hires and stable, thriving athletic departments. 

White has also reportedly crossed paths with Elliott in some manner. When the Golden Knights had to replace Scott Frost in 2017, Elliott was heavily linked to the job, and there's a good chance these two communicated when White was at UCF. 

Plus, White values offensive-minded coaches and seeks them out. Not only did he bring in Frost, who was an offensive coordinator at Oregon, he also hired Josh Heupel, who was the OC at Missouri, over Elliott. Those two UCF coaches went a combined 47-14 the last five seasons. 

Vols fans might think they need a guy with head coaching experience, but White very well might feel otherwise. And he wasn't brought in to be a "yes man" or continue a long lineage of bad hires. 

This Tennessee program has had eight losing seasons in the last 13 years under six different head coaches. It hasn't won an SEC title since 1998, when it also captured the national crown. 

Whatever way it's been doing hasn't worked. That's quite clear. Elliott has no ties to the university, which should be considered a good thing. He does have experience with players in that area, as he and the Tigers poached receivers Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers from the Knoxville vicinity. They went on to become stars and help their team win an ACC title, make the CFP every year they were at Clemson and win a national title. 

Elliott might not be considered a home run in Vol Nation. He's not flashy or flamboyant. He won't talk a big game like Steve Spurrier or wow the crowd with witty sayings like Dabo Swinney. What he would bring to Tennessee is a brand-new culture, a coach that cares about his players and cares about doing it the right way. 

Those are things that make him an attractive prospect for White. But does Elliott want this job?

After all, NCAA sanctions are coming. However, White took the gig. He's not afraid of navigating that. Plus, college football's governing body hasn't shown the propensity to truly hammer programs for misdeeds anymore. Look at the college basketball landscape after a massive network of cheating was uncovered. 

That might not deter Elliott either. The pieces are in place: a rabid fan base that cares, time to get his staff in order and not take away from coaching the Tigers and a major Power 5 job with a reputable AD. 

It's a lot to think about and even harder to turn down if Elliott receives legit interest.