Koenning’s ouster not smart for Clemson

By Marc Hudgens  |   Thursday, December 04, 2008  |  Comments( 17 )

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It was alarming enough that Clemson University decided to promote a leftover from its poor offense to be its new head coach. The new head coach, Dabo Swinney, took the madness a step further and forced out a coordinator who fielded nationally ranked defenses each of the four years he was with the Tigers.

We all know that Swinney, formerly the receivers coach, and defensive coordinator Vic Koenning didn’t get along for whatever reason. But there’s no logic behind firing Koenning. Simply put, relieving a good coach is just flat-out stupid. And let’s get one thing straight -- this was just as much a “resignation” as Tommy Bowden’s.

Since taking over in 2005, Koenning’s defenses have ranked no lower than 20th in the nation. Last season, the defense finished ninth. This year, it ended up 16th. Koenning's defenses were consistently great. Besides, the vast majority of Clemson’s problems have been on the offensive side (Swinney’s forte). Koenning's detractors use third-down rate (56th nationally) as a so-called knock on him, but that’s nothing compared to the offense's third-down rate (111th). Let’s not insult everyone's intelligence and use Koenning’s defense as a scapegoat for Clemson’s terrible offense.

Compared to Clemson’s offense, which ranked no higher than 52nd in the nation during that time frame (with the exception of 2006, when it was 15th), Koenning did very well at Clemson. Sure, you can easily make a case this is all on former O-coordinator Rob Spence -- whom Swinney fired an hour after taking the interim job. But Clemson’s passing offense has been ranked no higher than 46th in the past four years, and Swinney’s receivers were a part of that. There were countless dropped balls during that time. That includes '06, of course, when Clemson had its best offensive line in years. It’s not like Swinney coached hoards of Biletnikoff Award winners.

Swinney’s hiring isn’t an indictment on him; rather, it's on Clemson if things don't work out (and there's a good chance they won't). But if the Tigers' defense deteriorates next year and after, it will indeed be an indictment on Swinney.

Clemson went through an overhaul of sorts over the past few years, upgrading recruiting classes and facilities from previous years to be more competitive with the rest of the ACC. For some reason, though, this same school refuses to fall in line with the rest of the conference and upgrade its coaching.

No wonder the Tigers are mediocre every year.
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About Marc Hudgens

Marc Hudgens has been with RealFootball365 since 2007, covering college football, specifically Clemson and Oregon. He also writes for SouthernPigskin.com covering the ACC. He enjoys the acidic wit of Hunter S. Thompson, is a freelance graphic designer and has written several screenplays. He...
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CommentsComments: 17  |  Sign Up  View all comments
No.1
JTiger
11:12 AM
12/04/2008
First off I for one thought Vic was a good DC. But his sit back and dont give up the big play has hurt Clemson in the pass years....
No.2
Badin DC
02:26 PM
12/04/2008
The Clemson D was doing terrible the first half of this season until Dabo took over and told Koenning that he needed to bring the...
No.3
Badin DC
02:30 PM
12/04/2008
It was reported that TDP interviewed 2 minority coaches so don't even start that. TDP had no choice but to hire Dabo. He earned...
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