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December 13, 2012
CLEMSON -- Since the conclusion of Clemson's regular season, high profile offensive coordinator Chad Morris has formally interviewed for not one but two head coaching jobs. Players said Thursday Morris addressed the team before practice to "clear the air."
"He felt like there were too many distractions," Tiger quarterback Tajh Boyd said. "He just needed to reaffirm to us that all we need to worry about is the bowl game."
Morris was a serious candidate for the Red Raiders' job, interviewing with Tech athletics director Kirby Hocutt in Anderson on Tuesday. But less than 24 hours later, Hocutt hired former Red Raider quarterback Kliff Kingsbury.
Boyd said he personally was not distracted but admitted several players on the team were.
"There was a lot of speculation. Guys were talking about it in the locker room, looking at their cell phones and saying, 'He's gone. He's in Lubbock.' I think coach Morris just wanted to set the record straight."
Boyd said Morris phoned him Wednesday night when he learned of Hocutt's decision. Boyd said the two had talked frequently throughout the process as Morris was in discussions with Tech.
"It's kind of the way the business works. He's got to do what's best for his family. This is a business. Things happen," said Boyd. "He's definitely one of the hottest coaches in the country last year, this year and next year. It's going to be like this every year. This is just how it's going to be."
Clemson center Dalton Freeman said too much might have been made of Morris' talks with the Red Raiders.
Added Freeman: "The media kind of blows it up more than what it is. We were still lifting, still practicing and we still saw coach Morris everyday. He's always been up front with us about stuff and has great character. If anything would have gone down, he would have let us know first."
Boyd said he'd be disappointed if no one were interested in Morris, given what the coach accomplished in each of the last two years.
Morris has guided an offense that has broken over 90 total program records since coming to Clemson. The Tigers were in the top 10 in total offense and scoring offense this season. The team's production on offense under Morris in each of the last two years has been largely responsible for directing the program to back-to-back 10-win seasons, despite the Tigers fielding two of their worst defenses in the program's history.
This time a year ago Morris turned down a lucrative offer to serve as Urban Meyer's offensive coordinator at Ohio State.
"We want that for him ... the opportunities," said Freeman. "In life, you want to try to excel and be the best and we understand that's a part of the business."
Boyd reiterated that on a personal level he was not distracted by Morris interviewing with another school, but acknowledged had the coach left it could have impacted his thinking on whether to return or leave for the NFL.
"I haven't really sat down and thought about it, but I think so," he said.
Clemson's players are in the midst of wrapping up exams this week. The team will not practice Friday but will return to workouts on Saturday. The Tigers will then practice from December 17-21 before breaking for the holidays. The team will not begin off-campus bowl workouts in Atlanta until December 27.
Added Boyd: "I think it's a good day for Clemson. We're all proud that coach Morris loves it here and wants to stay here."
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