CLEMSON — Chad Morris’ life over the past two weeks has been a whirlwind. An interview with N.C. State for its head coaching position. Interest from South Florida and Auburn. Tuesday’s interview with Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt at the Anderson Regional Airport - which led to him finishing as runner-up to Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury as the Red Raiders’ next head coach.
“People had me going all over the place,” Morris told reporters Saturday in his first meeting since Nov. 24’s 27-17 loss to South Carolina. “Y’all had me leaving. Everyone had me leaving. Even our players, they had me leaving.”
Morris made it clear he’s perfectly content being Clemson’s offensive coordinator for the foreseeable future, however.
“I think you’ve got to look at it, there’s a huge commitment to winning in Clemson. From my deal, my contract, I’m in a situation, it’s going to have to be the right fit before it can happen,” he said. “Just to say you’re a head coach, I have no desire to say I’m a head coach at wherever, I have no desire to do that. We’ve got a great situation here, we’re building something special and a great commitment to winning. That’s what’s happening.”
At $1.3 million annually, Morris is the highest-paid assistant coach in college football.
He said taking a head coaching position “has nothing to do with money” and everything to do with the circumstances surrounding the job.
“From a head coaching salary, it’s not about that,” he said. “It’s have they won in the past, what is the commitment level to winning. There’s got to be a commitment from a support staff to a fan base that’s hungry to win. There’s so many things that play into a decision you make. You get one opportunity to do this, and you want to make sure this is at a place that can be successful, where you can win, and that’s the way I look at it.”
Morris praised Texas Tech and Kingsbury, a former Red Raiders’ quarterback, saying “he’ll do a great job there” and “I wish him no ill will – he’s what the fan base wanted, what the fan base needed.”
As for him, it “wasn’t the right time, it wasn’t the right fit.”
“(Hocutt and I) had a great visit, had a lot of things we had to go back and talk about, to , see if it was the right fit for Texas Tech and the right fit for Chad Morris and his family. And it didn’t materialize.”
He kept players - including junior quarterback Tajh Boyd – apprised of the situation, talking with them several times on Wednesday and again before practice Thursday following Tech’s hire of Kingsbury.
“I’m the one that brought it to their attention, shared it on Wednesday, here’s where we are, here’s what’s happening,” he said. “Believe me, if something happens, you and I will be the first to sit down and talk about it.”
Morris also made it clear that he is perfectly content at Clemson, referring repeatedly to the great situation he and Swinney have built over the past two seasons.
“I didn’t look around,” he said. “People called me, asked and inquired. That’s the last thing that’s happening, me getting on the phone, calling and looking around.”
He also had an interesting definition of an “interview.”
“Everyone had me interviewing several times,” Morris said. “A phone call asking an interest and talking over the telephone is not an interview by some standards. When it leaks out, people calling, talking, inquiring, it leads to a full-fledged interview.”
When someone intriguing calls, though, he’s more than willing to listen.
“If it happens it happens but it has to be the right fit,” he said. “Just as you (reporters) would do if Sports Illustrated called you and asked you, ‘Hey, we’d like for you to come and visit or we’d like to talk to you.’ You’d say, ‘OK, I’m willing to listen. What do you have to offer?’ It may not be the right fit. We’ve got not a good thing going here but a great thing going here. If that opportunity presents itself, and it’s the right fit, we’ll go to the next step.”
Making it the right fit, he said, is most important of all.
“The one thing I know about this business is that you get one shot at it,” he said. “If I’m going to give it a shot, I feel like it’s on my terms, this is how we do it. If it didn’t work out, I had it and had every resource to make it happen.”