Analyzing the latest goings-on around TigerTown...
1) What's the rush? – Chad Morris has been the nation's highest-paid coordinator two years running - and he's run one of the nation's top offenses the last three. So, of course, his name is mentioned with every open job (no, every single one).
In this year's carousel, he's reportedly interviewed with Louisville and reportedly was somewhere in the mix for the Arkansas State job. Saturday, the Vanderbilt job officially opened and he's a supposed candidate, because, well – the Commodores wouldn't be real smart if they didn't try.
But Morris can be choosy, and really, it'd be hard to understand why he would take the Vandy job in its current state (good, but certainly still no easy road). He's 45, he's making $1.3 million per year as a coordinator and he's landed quite a few talents to make his Clemson offense go in the near future.
Coming from a Maryland staff in flux, James Franklin wasn't the hot commodity Morris is when he took that job in 2011, but Franklin defied the odds and turned it into a stepping stone for Penn State. Mentor Gus Malzahn took a paycut in 2012 for a head coaching opportunity at Arkansas State and turned it into a stepping stone for an SEC championship run at Auburn last year.
But for every Malzahn, there's a Dan Mullen, who left Florida for Starkville, Miss., and is hitting the 8-9 win ceiling there is at Mississippi State. There's Dana Holgorsen who had the 10-win West Virginia team that beat Clemson in the Orange Bowl, but now like Mullen, has "hot seat" pop-up Google searching his name, going 11-14 since. Morris can afford to wait for the ideal start-up job, and that one isn't out there right now.
2) No-lose situation for Beasley – Dabo Swinney described Vic Beasley's NFL draft decision pretty well last week.
"He doesn't owe us anything," Swinney said. "He owes himself to do what he think is best. Whatever he decides we're good with. Hopefully he's back and and that's a good thing for him and us. If he leaves, I think he's going to do great there too."
Beasley was pretty confident before the Orange Bowl that he was a first-round prospect, but just before making the trip to south Florida, he received a second-round grade from the NFL draft advisory board. He's "torn" now, per Swinney, as the Jan. 15 deadline to enter approaches.
Whatever he decides, the star defensive end has shown what he brings to the next level. Beasley can improve his stock by coming back, but he can also post a monster NFL combine and do the same. He has freakish talent that will make its way on a professional field either way – it's just a matter of the numbers behind the dollar sign. I'd say he's a first-rounder either way.
3) Basketball: ACC play will be interesting – Roughly 45 hours passed between the start of Clemson-FSU and the end of Clemson-Duke, and Tiger fans got a glimpse of the two extremes of what this team is capable of. One, a 56-41 loss to the 'Noles, and the other, a 70-59 upset of No. 16 Duke.
"We're not as bad as we were against Florida State and we're not going to play great like this every night," Brad Brownell said. "We're going to be in-between and everybody needs to understand and enjoy these type of days. We've got to learn as a program to grow and try to build on this."
The "in-between" was good enough to take a road win at Boston College, and currently by KenPom's metrics, the Tigers are No. 37 nationally and No. 6 in the ACC with their 11-4 (2-1 ACC) start. Their No. 1 scoring defense (54.6 PPG) is coming off shutting down one of the nation's most efficient offenses in Duke. The Seminoles went on from their Littlejohn triumph to drill Maryland 85-61 Sunday night (16 three-pointers!).
This week will be telling with a couple winnable games (at Virginia Tech, Wed.; hosting Wake Forest, Sat.) that could propel them to early 4-1 start. It's also key because they hit the road for three-straight afterwards (Pitt, Jan. 21; UNC, Jan. 26; FSU, Feb. 1). Clemson's schedule is likely the toughest in the ACC, which rates No. 221 after 15 games but is projected to reach the top-80 by the end of the season (79).
Brownell maintains they are a work in progress going forward.
"Yeah, we haven't fared well against the best teams in the league," Brownell said after Saturday's win, "but I don't think many have. It's one of those situations where we weren't as good. We lost a lot after my first year. We've had to work to build it back. It's going to take even more time. Most people don't want to hear that and I get it.
"That's the way it is if you want to do it the right way. We're the type of guys that are going to recruit guys that are going to be here a while. They're going to have to get experiences like this one."