FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Two years ago, Clemson made Chad Morris the nation’s highest paid coordinator, a title he still retains.
Much of that is thanks to what’s been one of the more prolific offenses in college football under his tutelage, but it didn’t hurt the Buckeyes had their sights set on bringing Morris to Columbus back then.
Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Morris had been talking weekly up to the ACC Championship Game, developing a deeper friendship while the Buckeyes coach.
Right around that time in the Queen City, Ohio State made their push.
“When he got back in (coaching), to be considered and to talk to him, it was an honor,” Morris said. “But it was pretty -- it was right around our ACC Championship Game, and it was pretty much within the hours that we were talking this whole thing through.”
Morris signed his extension with Clemson shortly afterwards though.
“That Sunday after we won the ACC Championship, Coach Swinney and I and our athletic director at the time, Terry Don Phillips, were in Coach Swinney's office at 8:00 on Sunday morning,” Morris said, “and negotiating and working out the details, the final details of my contract extension. There was some talk, without just going into all the breakdown of it - not long afterwards though.”
Morris has continued his relationship with Meyer and the Buckeyes though, with the two offensive coaching staffs meeting last spring.
“We spent about three days together,” he said. “So I'm sure they were dragging their notes out just like we were dragging our notes out.”
TALKING ABOUT PRACTICE
Clemson practiced for the first time in south Florida at North Miami’s Barry University, just off I-95.
They went through a 10-minute walkthrough, 10 minutes of calisthenics, 17 five-minute periods practicing and a 15-minute session for the “JV” freshmen and assorted reserves.
“First of all, Barry University, this is a tremendous facility,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “They have done a great job of getting everything ready for us out here, like the fields. They have got the fields painted up just like the game field we are going to play on. Great, great job by the people who take care of this place, we appreciate them.
“This week is really about knowing what to do. Knowing the what, the why, the when, so that you can go play well because that is what it’s going to take. I like where the guys were today. We have to clean some things up for tomorrow, but their mentality and their focus on practice was very, very good.”
The early-summer type weather of 76 degrees with 90 percent humidity was enough to break a sweat on some players, but Swinney could have withstood some more.
“Love it - mo’ hotter, mo’ better,” Swinney said. “I love it, I’m going to have a T-shirt made up. This is my kind of weather. It’s a mindset, we are fortunate that we are in the south. Our guys understand what hot and humidity is. It’s cold back home right now, but it wasn’t that long ago when we dealt with the heat.
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“That is something that both teams have to deal with and that is where your depth comes in and your conditioning.”
Among “JV” stars, Swinney identified T.L. Hanna product Ben Boulware and Daniel product Adrien Dunn as two of the more productive players, along with redshirting freshmen linemen Maverick Morris and Tyrone Crowder. Sophomore tackle O.J. Jones suffered a foot injury in the session earlier in bowl practice and was on crutches Monday.
Two days in Miami – and the Buckeyes are two days without their leader in sacks, Noah Spence (7.5), who didn’t make the initial flight due to personal issues.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer had no updates on his status for the game, but said he will know by Tuesday.
“Obviously, he's dealing with some things,” Buckeyes defensive coordinator Luke Fickell told the media Monday morning. “It's one of those things that we've got to move on. These guys know that. Obviously, we love Noah. We wish him the best. We hope we get a chance to get him back down here.”
That’s not all Ohio State’s dealing with right now, as 10 players are currently being “quarantined” per Meyer due to sickness. Official word from the school wouldn’t go into specifics, but that none were starters.
In the injured category, All-Big Ten cornerback Bradley Roby’s status is uncertain (knee), while reserve linebacker Curtis Grant (back) has been limited in practice.
“I like my team, I like my players, I like the fact that they came down in this heat,” Meyer said after practice Monday afternoon. “And I would say it was a hard day…I understand there are some holes right now we’re trying to fight through, but name a program that doesn’t have holes and issues and guys hurt, guys sick. We’ve got a hundred players. Things happen, but we’re very professional and business-like. I like that.”