The Search Should End Here

Now that Reggie Herring has left Clemson to go to Oxford, Mississippi, its time to seriously examine the candidates that have emerged as his replacement. Joe Kines, Tyrone Nix, and Carl Torbush are all names that we've become familiar with over the last few days. But when you break it all down, there is one name that stands above the rest, and its Woody Widenhofer.

Tommy Bowden has indicated that he's in no hurry to find Herring's successor.

After all, Reggie Herring wasn't heavily involved in the recruiting process like Rick Stockstill or Brad Scott. Consequently, the effect of not having a defensive coordinator on a recruiting weekend as big as this one isn't what someone on the outside looking in would expect.

That being said, numerous rumors have been swirling around the upstate over the last 2-3 days about possible replacements. Former Vanderbilt head coach Woody Widenhofer and Florida State linebackers coach Joe Kines and just two of the names high atop most fans' wish lists.

"I just want someone who's had success. Its an attractive job and it should have some attractive candidates." says Bowden.

Others include former Duke defensive coordinator Bob Trott. Trott, a former defensive coordinator at Clemson in 1990, helped lead the Tigers to a number one ranking in total defense, the only time that has happened in school history.

Trot in all honesty, doesn't really carry the name recognition that will satisfy Clemson alumni. Plus, he's been coaching on a team up in Durham that hasn't won a college football game in an awfully long time. Say what you want, but I don't think we'll see him in the press box or on the sidelines of Death Valley next season.

Joe Kines was Clemson's linebackers coach in 1977 and 1978. He then followed Clemson head coach Charley Pell to Florida and then would hold jobs at Alabama, Tampa Bay (NFL), Arkansas, and on to Georgia for a 4-year run as the Dawgs' defensive coordinator.

Kines is proven coach that has shown the consistent ability to motivate and develop athletes. He's respected by his peers and he is a quality coach, but he shouldn't be the top choice.

Woody Widenhofer on the other hand, is a defensive guru. He tried to raise Vanderbilt from the SEC basement for the last 5 years, and with all things considered, he did it on the defensive side of the ball.

Widenhofer had success at Vanderbilt, as the Commodores were the top ranked defensive unit in the rugged SEC, and 9th nationally in 1997. His teams in Nashville were generally competitive because they could hold teams like Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia in check offensively. Unfortunately, the Commodores were never able to score enough points to consistenly win.

He is a proven coach that could come in and bring instant stability to a defense that has anything but stable over the last few years.

Woody was also the defensive coordinator for the Steelers during the "Steel Curtain" years of the late 1970s, when he collected 4 Superbowl rings. He has also served as the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions in early 1990's.

Widenhofer and Bowden have already had two conversations since Herring's departure, and they are expected to resume talks after this weekend's official recruiting visits are finished.

"I would say there's a mutual interest there on both parties," Widenhofer said in a recent interview.

"It's a place with a great tradition, a place you have a chance to win a national championship."

The bottomline is Woody Widenhofer should be considered the leading candidate for the defensive coordinator's position at Clemson University. He was handcuffed at a program like Vanderbilt due to the strict academic requirements required to get in the school, and yet he still was able to field a defense that was consistently in the upper echolon of the SEC.

Give him some serious talent via all-star recruiters like Rick Stockstill, Brad Scott, and Tommy Bowden, and all of the pieces of the coaching staff puzzle will start to fall into place. He can mold talent and coach and motivate a defense like no other available candidate out there.

He also has the resume that you build a defensive program around- defensive success at all levels, the ability to adjust his defensive schemes based on existing talent, and a familiarity with good old southern football.

Thats a perfect fit for Clemson in my book. After all, we always need to have a "Woody" in our program don't we? Top Stories