Tony Elliott explains why he returned to Clemson after being courted by Tennessee
Before Josh Heupel ever made his way to Rocky Top, Tennessee AD Danny White met with Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott to discuss the job opening in Knoxville.
While there were meetings between the two, according to Elliott, Dabo Swinney’s longtime offensive coordinator at Clemson said the timing just wasn’t right for a departure.
During his first media availability of the spring, Elliott was asked to discuss his offseason decision-making process after being courted by Tennessee.
“You know, I thought I had kind of made it through (the coaching carousel) unscathed, and then the situation came up late with Tennessee,” Elliott said on Wednesday. “Really, really appreciative of Danny White and just his interest in me and having an opportunity to talk to him and go through that experience. Definitely, it was something that I really had to sit down and think about and consider and pray about, and talk to people, and try to find the right confirmation. At the end of the day, when I put everything on the table, it just wasn’t the right time.”
According to Elliott, who has been at Clemson dating back to the 2011 season, he’s closer to his head coach now than he’s ever been before following the interest he received from Tennessee.
“You have an opportunity to have this conversation with Coach Swinney, just strengthens our relationship even more. But at the end of the day, it just wasn’t the right time,” Elliott added. “Man, I’m just so happy to be here, you guys know I love it here. It’s a special place.
“It was good to go through that experience, but at the end of the day, Tennessee’s a great program really really honored to be considered whatever the day. It wasn’t the right time.”
Considering the success of Clemson’s program in recent seasons, it appears it will only be a matter of time before Elliott does take a head coaching opportunity should the right job come open.
What exactly is he looking for in a program?
“An opportunity to win, definitely,” he answered. “There’s going to be high expectations wherever I go because of where I’m leaving, right, and I want to be in a situation where the people that I bring along — because it’s going to be hard work wherever I do decide when the Lord opens the right door… I want to be in a position where we have a legitimate opportunity to win.”
That’s an interesting comment and one that suggests he didn’t see success in Tennessee’s immediate future.