Updated: The Short List

CLEMSON - Our most detailed release of information regarding coaching candidates to date is contained inside.

Keep in mind, Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips said last month this would be a "national search" that would include current Clemson interim coach Dabo Swinney, who will be given a chance to formally interview for the position after the season.

He also suggested there would be names that appear on his "short list" later in the process that weren't there in the beginning.

At this point, a handful of candidates have been contacted to varying degrees, either through Carr & Associates, the headhunter firm hired by Terry Don Phillips to put together the background information behind realistic candidates, or through other intermediaries.

While Phillips himself suggested he would like he wants a new coach in place within the first 10 days of December, CUTigers.com is hearing he wants a permanent head coach in place as quickly after the South Carolina game as possible- so that the new staff can be in touch with potential before the December dead period hits.

As you can imagine, names continue to cycle on and off this list, however here's the latest on we are hearing at this juncture:

#1. Will Muschamp [LINK TO BIO]

CURRENT JOB: Defensive coordinator - Texas

QUICK NOTES: Muschamp is considered one of the nation's top defensive coordinators and was a 2007 Broyles Award Finalist (the award that honors the nation's top assistant coach). He joined the Texas staff after spending the previous two years as defensive coordinator at Auburn and seven of the last eight years as a defensive coordinator in college and the NFL. Played college football at Georgia.

THE STATS: In his five years as a coordinator at Auburn and LSU, Muschamp's defenses have ranked among the nation's top 10 in total defense five times and scoring defense three times, while ranking in the top 15 in scoring defense the other two. Simply put, the guy has a proven track record in the toughest conference in college football. Imagine what he could do in the ACC?

WHY MUSCHAMP IN CLEMSON MAKES SENSE: He's a defensive coach that is as intense as you'll find on the sideline and he wants the opportunity to become a head coach ... soon. At Clemson, he would inherit a team that many would expect to be talented enough to win the league in 2009. Those in Austin have suggested he would indeed be interested if the Tigers come knocking on his door in a formal capacity.


CUTIGERS INSIGHT: Should be at top of Terry Don Phillips' list. An impeccable resume with ties all over the south. His passion and determination to succeed would be unmatched. If you are looking for the young "up and comer" Muschamp is as good as you'll find. Terry Don Phillips was interested in his services in past year, you can be assured he is again this year.

11/5 UPDATE: Muschamp continues to be a hot name at Clemson and also around the country. CUTigers.com has heard he would be interested in the job at Clemson, but that he would also really like the Auburn job if it came available should Tommy Tuberville be fired. Insiders are also suggesting he is not interested in Tennessee at the present moment. Of course if the Vols throw $2 million or more at him - well that could change things now couldn't it?
#2. Tommy Tuberville [LINK TO BIO]

CURRENT JOB: Head coach - Auburn

QUICK NOTES: Since 2000, entering the 2008 season, Auburn was tied for the best conference record among SEC teams with a mark of 47-17 (.734). Tuberville has directed Auburn to eight consecutive bowl appearances, including five New Year's Day bowl berths and three consecutive January 1 bowl games from 2005-07. In the last four seasons, Tuberville has directed the Tigers to 42 wins and an .824 winning percentage (42-9) which is fifth best in the country in both categories.

THE STATS: Tuberville led Auburn to an undefeated season in 2004, capturing the SEC Championship and also winning the Sugar Bowl over Virginia Tech. Before this season Tuberville and the Tigers from the Plains had won nine of their previous 11 games against top 10 opponents.

WHY TUBERVILLE IN CLEMSON MAKES SENSE: He's a defensive coach that has won big game after big game during his career at Auburn, including running the table in 2004 when his team won the SEC and a BCS game and should have played for the National Championship. Insiders also suggest he'd be willing to look at other jobs in the southeast considering the events that occurred a few years ago when Auburn's athletic director tried to hire Louisville's Bobby Petrino.


CUTIGERS INSIGHT: He would have to rank right up there, close to Muschamp. Arguably one of the top head coaching candidates the Tigers may be able to land. Any time you go 13-0 playing in the SEC and win nine of 11 games against top 10 competition, you know you are doing something right. He also was rumored to be interested in the Florida State job before Jimbo Fisher was named "head coach in waiting." Surely he'd consider moving north of Tallahassee in the same conference? Wouldn't he?

11/5 UPDATE: Anything and everything has been put on the table regarding Tommy Tuberville to Clemson. From radio show hosts mentioning it would be a "good fit" to closed-door talks with big boosters trying to figure out how to pay his $6 million buyout- rumors are indeed swirling. Have you heard the latest one? Tuberville and Auburn are in closed-door talks to re-negotiate his contract to eliminate his buyout completely? That would free him up to go anywhere he wanted in theory, however sources tell CUTigers if Tuberville is going to leave Auburn he'll have to be fired and he won't settle for a penny less than his current buyout stipulates. (And who could blame him?) And right now, he appears to have the support of the president, as well as many "big money" boosters. The bottom line is either the buyout would have to be eliminated, or paid off by Auburn boosters for Tuberville to end up at Clemson. Regardless, we think Clemson's interest here is legitimate but it that is irrelevant with a dark $6 million buyout cloud hanging over the situation. If that somehow changes given what happens with Auburn the rest of the year (Tennessee-Martin, Georgia and Alabama) then game on.
#3. Dabo Swinney [LINK TO BIO]

CURRENT JOB: Interim head coach - Clemson

THE STATS: 1-1 as a head coach, including a narrow victory at Boston College this past weekend and a close loss at home to Georgia Tech. As Clemson's interim head man, Swinney will coach the Tigers in six games and will have the opportunity to showcase his ability, for the first time, as a head coach. As a wide receivers coach at Clemson since 2003, Swinney has coached a number of league leaders in receptions. He's also coached a number of draft picks dating back to his days at Alabama and is one of the top young recruiters in the nation.

WHY SWINNEY AT CLEMSON MAKES SENSE: He's young. He's energetic and he's already won over the fan base with a passionate opening press conference. Now all he has to do in the next six games is win which is easier said than done. Make no mistake, Swinney is among the contenders for the position, but he'll have to pull off a minor miracle the rest of this season and get his team to play at an unbelievably high level. Also an established recruiter who knows how to motivate his players.


CUTIGERS INSIGHT: This is a very big opportunity for Dabo Swinney - a chance to prove he can coach with the big boys. His goal the next seven weeks? Win games - win as many games as he can. Truthfully, we don't know what Swinney is capable of. Nobody does. If he were to win the majority of Clemson's remaining games, having been shoved into the head coaching position- wouldn't that speak volumes about he brings to the table? The good news is we get to find out just what he can during these next four games.

11/5 UPDATE: So far, Dabo has said and done all of the right things. His team is 1-1 overall but could easily be 2-0 or 0-2. So what does it all mean? It means the jury is still out There has been talk that this weekend's game against FSU could be a "must win" for him if he is to remain Clemson's head coach in 2009. Regardless, it seems the best thing he could for his chances the next four weeks is win games. Terry Don Phillips suggested the week after Bowden resigned Dabo would be the same coach in his eyes regardless of how many wins and losses he had at the end of his trial run. While it sounded good at the time ... that probably won't fly with Clemson fans if the Tigers don't close with a bang.
#4. Todd Graham [LINK TO BIO]

CURRENT JOB: Head coach - Tulsa

THE STATS: In his first season at Tulsa, Graham led the Hurricane to a 10-4 record, the 2007 Conference USA West Division title, an appearance in the C-USA Championship Game and the GMAC Bowl Championship. The 10 wins marked only the sixth time in school history that Tulsa won that many games, while the Hurricane posted a 63-7 win over Bowling Green in the GMAC Bowl, the largest margin of victory in Bowl history. Tulsa also had the nation's top offense leading the country at over 543 yards per game.

WHY GRAHAM AT CLEMSON MAKES SENSE: In 2006, Graham led Rice to an overall 7-6 record and the school's first bowl berth in 45 years. After beginning the season 0-4, he led a turnaround that saw the Owls win seven of its next nine games, including six straight, thus earning him Conference USA Coach of the Year honors - again at Rice. Not bad. He's also running the show of one of the top offenses in the nation this year (even though he's more of a defensive coach) and has been a winner everywhere he's been.


CUTIGERS INSIGHT: The rumor is that not only has Graham has been contacted about the Clemson head coaching position, but that Tulsa's offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has as well. The two are certainly "hot" right now after leading the Golden Hurricane to an 8-1 start and are deserving of consideration. If Clemson could somehow get the Graham/Malzahn combination to come - now that has some sizzle.

#5. Mike Leach [LINK TO BIO]

CURRENT JOB: Head coach - Texas Tech

THE STATS: Leading the nation's most prolific passing offenses in the country, Leach, who received the All-American Football Foundation's Johnny Vaught Head Coach Award in 2006, spreads the field with his exciting brand of football and has guided the Red Raiders to five NCAA passing titles and three total offense titles during his tenure. Leach's offense produced school records in nearly every passing category in 2000, but surpassed those numbers in each of the last eight seasons. His eight teams have combined for over 151 team and individual records at Tech.

WHY LEACH AT CLEMSON MAKES SENSE: Bring arguably the top offensive coach in the country to the offensively-challenged ACC and good things are bound to happen. Think of him as the anti-Paul Johnson.


CUTIGERS INSIGHT: On paper this move makes a lot of sense. He clearly has an offense that is almost unstoppable and he's transformed Texas Tech from a Big 12 afterthought to a national championship contender. Re-read that last statement several times so that it properly sinks in. The problem is off the field, would Leach ever fit the "Clemson man" mold? For a coach that graduated from law school at Pepperdine and who is infatuated with pirates- does he really fit in on the IPTAY circuit every spring? Oh sure, Leach would come to Clemson after a fantastic run in Lubbock - it only makes sense - but would Clemson be willing to bring him in? It would be a mistake not to talk to him in-depth at some point in the process.

#6. Gary Patterson [LINK]

CURRENT JOB: Head coach - TCU

THE STATS: Patterson is the only coach in TCU history to record more than two 10-win seasons. He has four in the last six years and is also the fastest Horned Frog coach to reach 50 victories. The Frogs have won four conference titles with Patterson on staff in addition to posting five of the school's nine 10-win seasons. He was TCU's defensive coordinator from 1998-00.

WHY PATTERSON AT CLEMSON MAKES SENSE: He was on the short list in previous years when former coach Tommy Bowden was either on the "hot seat" or was looking at other schools like Arkansas.


CUTIGERS INSIGHT: He's on the radar and may be one of the names that draws heavy consideration. As a defensive coach, he would be a welcome addition in Tigertown. Fans may have to get more acquainted with what he brings to the table, but he is respected in coaching circles.

11/5 UPDATE: With the job coming open at Kansas State, where he walked on as a safety many years ago, Patterson could very well be headed there with the announcement the Wildcats are parting ways with Ron Prince. If there was heavy interest here early on either side (Clemson and Patterson), it doesn't appear to be there at this exact second.
#7. Butch Davis [LINK TO BIO]

CURRENT JOB: Head coach - North Carolina

THE STATS: Davis was head coach for six seasons at the University of Miami (1995-2000) and led the Hurricanes to a 51-20 record, three Big East Conference championships and four postseason bowl wins in as many appearances. He took over a Miami program faced with NCAA sanctions that restricted the number of scholarships in his first three seasons. However, his Hurricane teams finished ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 on four occasions, including No. 2 in the nation in 2000 when the Canes went 11-1 and beat Florida, 37-20, in the Sugar Bowl. At North Carolina, he has the Heels back among the top 25 teams in the nation in less than two years. What else do you need to know?

WHY DAVIS AT CLEMSON MAKES SENSE: He was the architect of what some said was the greatest team in college football history- the 2001 National Champion Miami Hurricanes. Also coached the Cleveland Browns and appears to have North Carolina headed back towards respectability in just his second year as the head man in Chapel Hill. Seems to also fit the "Clemson man" mold. Lastly, Clemson has 12,000 more season-ticket holders this year than the 48,000 fans that were in attendance for last weekend's Boston College-UNC matchup in Chapel Hill.


CUTIGERS INSIGHT: The popular rumor running around about a week ago was that Davis reached out to Clemson behind the scenes. Whether or not that happened and whether or not that was a ploy to get more money from North Carolina is anybody's guess. Davis denied any contact had been made between himself and the Tigers, but didn't completely shut the door on the rampant rumors either.

#8. Brent Venables [LINK TO BIO]

CURRENT JOB: Associate head coach/linebackers coach - Oklahoma

THE STATS: One of five finalists for the 2006 Broyles Award and has been a part of a coaching staff that consistently produces one of the top defensive units in the Big 12 and the nation.

WHY VENEABLES AT CLEMSON MAKES SENSE: He was rumored to be on Terry Don Phillips' short list a year ago and is another young, energetic candidate with a defensive background. It's only a matter of time until he's a head coach.


CUTIGERS INSIGHT: An intriguing option who will be a head coach at some point in the very near future. Was rumored to be a candidate at Arkansas last year and has all the tools to succeed at the next level. Has also learned from the best in Bob Stoops and was part of the National Championship team in Norman, Okla. earlier this decade.

11/5 UPDATE: Nothing new to report on this front at the present moment.
#9. Jim Grobe [LINK TO BIO]

CURRENT JOB: Head coach - Wake Forest

THE STATS: All you need to know here is Jim Grobe won an ACC Championship ... at Wake Forest. In the last two seasons, his teams have won 20 games and he now has his team positioned to win another ACC Championship this year ... again at Wake Forest. The old saying of "nobody has done more with less" applies here, because truly nobody has done more in terms of building a program with less talent than Jim Grobe.

WHY GROBE AT CLEMSON MAKES SENSE: He's familiar with the ACC and was actually on Terry Don Phillips' short list a year ago when Tommy Bowden had one foot out the door to Arkansas. He also has a proven track record of taking undiscovered talent and turning it into a proven winner. Also he seems to fit the "Clemson man" mold as a head coach who fit in with the community and become the face of the program.


CUTIGERS INSIGHT: If Grobe can win a conference championship at Wake Forest, what could he do at Clemson? There was heavy interest here a year ago so it makes sense there would be again this time around.

11/5 UPDATE: There seems to be no movement or new information here whatsoever. Grobe denied contact with Clemson last month, but never said he didn't want the job. But he did say, "I'm a Wake Forest guy."
#9. Bobby Johnson [LINK TO BIO]

CURRENT JOB: Head coach - Vanderbilt

THE STATS: The Commodores, long considered the doormat of the SEC, have been brought to respectability under Johnson's watch and already 5-1 this season. Johnson's coaching career, which covers 31 years, began in 1976 as defensive ends coach at Furman. By 1983, he was elevated to Furman's defensive coordinator, serving a decade in that role. After one year as the defensive coordinator at Clemson, Johnson returned to Furman to accept the head coaching job. He took the Paladins to the Division I-AA National Championship game in 2001 before taking the Vanderbilt job shortly thereafter.

WHY JOHNSON AT CLEMSON MAKES SENSE: He's a "Clemson man," having lettered three years as a receiver and cornerback, before graduating in 1973 with a bachelor's degree in management. He's also built a solid program at a school where nobody thought he could win.


CUTIGERS INSIGHT: He's a solid coach with a resume that includes playing for a national championship. He would also likely jump at the chance to return to his home state and alma mater. At this point, we aren't convinced he's at the top of the list, however. He'll be given a hard look because he's a "Clemson guy" and would likely, at minimum, be given a chance to interview for the job.

11/5 UPDATE: Bobby Johnson to Clemson is not in the works, according to our sources. At best, he would be brought in for an interview but he's not a coach at this point who we believe to be under serious consideration.
#10. Bud Foster [LINK TO BIO]

CURRENT JOB: Defensive coordinator - Virginia Tech

THE STATS: Won the 2006 Broyles Award honoring the nation's top assistant coach that year. Now in his 22nd season at Virginia Tech, has helped mold nationally ranked defenses on a yearly basis during his 13 years as a coordinator.

WHY FOSTER AT CLEMSON MAKES SENSE: He's a defensive coach with a proven track record of success during his tenure in Blacksburg.


CUTIGERS INSIGHT: A defensive-minded coach who deserves the opportunity to become a head coach in the very near future. In addition, the transition from Tech to Clemson shouldn't be too bad across a number of fronts.

11/5 UPDATE: Foster has reportedly been contacted, along with a handful of other candidates, but is not viewed as a serious contender at the present moment.
#11. Bill Cowher [LINK TO BIO]


THE STATS: In Cowher's 15 seasons as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, he captured eight division titles, earned 10 postseason playoff berths, played in 21 playoff games, advanced to six AFC Championship games and made two Super Bowl appearances (including winning a World Championship in Feb. 2006]. He is one of only six coaches in NFL history to claim at least seven division titles. Cowher's record as a head coach is 149-90-1.

WHY COWHER AT CLEMSON MAKES SENSE: He's a proven winner at the highest level of football possible in the NFL. He's been rumored to be interested in returning to the game at the college level - wouldn't he want to do it a school where he could win and compete for a National Championship? Cowher turned down over $6.5 million a year to remain with the Steelers two years ago, so he'd have to take a pay cut at the collegiate level.


CUTIGERS INSIGHT: The Cowher name would open doors in recruiting and he obviously knows how to get the job done on game day considering he won a Super Bowl and almost 150 games in the NFL. Again, salary becomes a consideration, but the Tigers aiming high and we believe Cowher is on the list.

11/5 UPDATE: Cowher appears to be out of Clemson's price range and is reportedly building a house in Cleveland of all places. Bad news perhaps for Clemson … but maybe good news for the Browns?

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