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December 15, 2012
CLEMSON -- For the first time since interviewing with both N.C. State and Texas Tech, Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris was made available to the media Saturday.
The following is an edited transcript of Morris' post-practice availability.
Q. Talk about what this week has been like, given everything that's happened.
Morris. "I think first of all, you look back and the last couple of weeks, people had me going all over the place. Y'all (the media) had me going, everybody had me leaving but me. Even our players, they had me leaving. Like I shared with our players, I've asked them to buy into what I'm trying to do here and what we're doing offensively. I would hope that they know I'd let them know personally if I were going to be leaving instead of just assuming.
"I think it says a lot about our program and what we're building here and what we're doing. Everybody had me interviewing several times. A phone call asking interest and talking over the phone is not considered an interview by some standards, but when it leaks out that people call and inquire, it turns into a full-fledged interview. But again, I've been flattered. We've been extremely successful and this says a lot about Clemson and what we're trying to do.
"With all that being said, it has been ... it's been a week of ups and downs, making sure our players are focused, because that's the number one objective. But we're extremely happy here in Clemson. Clemson has been very committed to winning and because of that, one of these days, if that day ever comes, I don't judge being successful by being a head coach. That's not something I'm going to do, as I look at my career. If it happens, it happens, but it has to be the right fit. Just as you would do if Sports Illustrated called you and asked you to come and visit or we would like to talk to you, you would at least listen. And it may not be the right fit.
"We have a great thing going here, not a good thing, but a great thing. If that opportunity ever presents itself and it's the right fit, then we'll go to the next step. Until then, we are excited about what we have here and what we have coming back and the direction of the program."
Q. Your comments make it sound like at some point you told them you were not interested? Texas Tech.
Morris. "It wasn't the right time. It wasn't the right fit. We talked, as y'all all knew. We visited on Tuesday and had a great visit. A lot of things we had to go back and talk about and see if it was the right fit for Texas Tech and for Chad Morris and his family and it did not materialize. So you take the next step and move forward."
Q. Are you considering that your only job interview?
Morris. "No, no, no. Absolutely not."
Q. What have you done to get players refocused?
Morris. "They've been focused all along since Tuesday and then they just assumed they had me out of here. They were asking me what's going on. All along I kept Tajh Boyd in the loop. Tajh and I have a great relationship. He and I had long talks throughout this process and several of the other players who are some of the leaders of our team. With all that being said, I met with them."
Q. So you didn't have to reel them back in?
Morris. "Oh no, no, no. These guys are focused. Regardless of who the offensive coordinator is, these guys are focused and they are going to play. That's what they do and that's who they are. They are competitors and they are going to fight hard for whomever. I'm the one who brought it to their attention and I'm the one who shared with them on Wednesday, 'Here's where we are and here's what's happening and believe me, if something happens, you and I will be the first ones to sit down and talk about it.'"
Q. In the process of looking at jobs and opportunities as they come along, people on the outside think in terms of how much money a guy makes and can they afford him or beat the salary. It's more than that, correct? You're looking at a lot of issues, such as commitment to winning and the resources you would need to do the job.
Morris. "That's a great question. Absolutely. It has nothing to do with money at this stage. That's not it. It's not about that. It's about have they won in the past? What's the commitment level to winning? Let me back up and I want to clear this up. I didn't look around. People called me and asked and inquired. That's the last thing that's happening here is me getting on the phone and looking around. So with that being said, there has to be a commitment from a support staff to a fan base that is hungry to win. There are so many variables that play into a decision you make. You go back and get one opportunity to do this. You want to make sure it's in the place you can be successful, a place where you can win and make an impact. That's the way I perceive it. Now, others may perceive it different or other guys looking for opportunities."
Q. Are you finding when you've talked to people that there is a reluctance to go that far?
Morris. "Sure, absolutely. You have to look at it as there is a huge commitment to winning in Clemson. And to the point from my deal, my contract, I'm in a situation that it's going to have to be the right fit before it can happen, before it needs to happen. Just to say you're a head coach, that does nothing for me. I have no desire just to say I'm a head coach wherever. I have no desire to do that. I feel like we've got a great situation here and we are building something special and there's a great commitment to winning."
Q. Could you be just fine if you were the offensive coordinator here for the next three or four years? Would that be perfectly OK with you?
Morris. "Absolutely. Absolutely. I'd be tickled to death. I'm having the time of my life right now coaching football."
Q. Gus Malzahn took a non-power conference job. With the opportunities that are out there, are you limiting yourself to certain conferences?
Morris. "I don't know if you limit yourself. I think you listen and see what the commitment level is there. Does it fit your needs? It's so much about fit and personalities. You could step into a community and the personalities aren't the same and you'll never fit in. If you never fit in, you're already fighting with one hand behind your back."
Q. Do you feel like you have closure and you'll be back?
Morris. "I'm back. I'm back. I'm telling you, I'm back. It's like I told these players. I'm back in Clemson. And I never left, OK. Y'all (the media) had me leaving. I'm here in Clemson, OK."
Q. But you understand that when a school from Texas in a major conference calls and interviews you, people here (in the fan base) are going to ask and speculate and wonder if this is the one?
Morris. "There's no question. That's my home state. And coach (Dabo) Swinney and I talked about that extensively and in-depth. You have to look at that. It wasn't the right fit. The way it materialized and the way everything happened ... it's a good program and Kliff Kingsbury will do a good job. He played there. That's what that fan base wanted and needed. I wish him the best of luck."
Q. Do you think the players understood?
Morris. "Sure. Everybody has goals. If you're a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you may want to be a CEO of a different Fortune 500 company. Every job has its ups and downs and its share of problems. Every job has its share of problems. Every dog has fleas, even those Westminster ones. They may not have as many. You have to see if the situation is a right fit."
Q. You've said you were called and were not looking. Have you had to undo some things in recruiting? Are you being hit with this by rival recruiters?
Morris. "Oh yeah. I'm sure everybody says, 'He's intervieing for this job and that job.' That comes with the territory this time of year. That's part of being a coach. That's why a coach's family, every coach's family in the country, in December, everybody is just hanging on and you're saying what's next? That comes with the territory."
Q. Could you have imagined that this would become an issue so soon?
Morris. "I don't really think it was an issue. I really don't. To me, I think it says a lot about our program. Hey look, there is something they're doing there and they're doing it right. Let's find out. Maybe there is something there that can help us build our program. I think if you do a good job where you are, opportunities come into play and you take care of your job, you invest in the moment and you sell out and I've always felt that in every part of my career. I've always invested all I've had in the moment. Give everything you've got. If opportunities present themselves, you look and expand and you see what's best for your family."
Q. How nice is it to get this behind you and just focus on LSU?
Morris. "It goes through an exhausting process. It's an up and down process of a lot of decisions. When you make decisions like this, you make decisions based on not just your family but a lot of things that come into play, a lot of players and families. That's why you have to make sure everything is the right fit. If it is a fit, there is a great commitment there to win and you feel like you can do it - because you only get one shot - then if I get one shot, I want it to be on my terms. That way, if it didn't work out, I did it and had every resource to make it happen."
Q. Now that you've had a couple of weeks to think about South Carolina, looking back, is there anything you would have done differently against South Carolina, and how are you going to approach LSU?
Morris. "The first half against South Carolina, we had the ball 42 snaps and did a great job of mixing up the run and the pass. We had the ball six snaps in the third quarter and 10 in the fourth quarter. Of the 10, we had four or five on the last drive of the game. Your options were limited. You had to be perfect in the second half. We had one three-and-out which was the opening three-and-out of the third quarter and never got the ball back at the end. Then we went down and scored a field goal. If we had it back, I probably would have taken a shot. But given the circumstances of the game, your options were limited."
Q. I"d think you'd much rather see us coming at you right now than that LSU front.
Morris. "Very talented. Extremely talented. I think there are about eight or 10 of them that roll in there. Their front four is as solid a group as we've played against. And they've got four more right behind them. They do a great job of rolling guys in. They have an All-American in the secondary. Reed is in the secondary and is a very talented young man. It's going to be a physical matchup up front."
Q. Talking with Sammy (Watkins) the other night, it seemed he was now really motivated for this bowl. How would you evaluate his season and what he needs to do better?
Morris. "I think they're all motivated for the bowl. They're excited about getting back and getting going. You look at Sammy and a tale of two seasons. The suspension, then came back, he was sick, missed a game and then really got going late in the season. Obviously he hasn't had the year, he hasn't put up the numbers that we've seen, but I think that has a lot to do with the fact that he couldn't get in a groove. Now, with 15 bowl practices, I'm excited about getting these guys back on the field."
Q. Lorenzo Ward was saying if you take away Tajh's first read, he tends to pull the ball down and starts to think about running. How close is that to your perception of it?
Morris. "We've got several reads. He goes from one primary to a secondary read. When you take one read away and the front that they had, with Jadeveon Clowney, he limits how quick you get to your second read. You better have some guys who can put a rush on him and they had that. I said it before the game that I felt like he was probably one of the best players in the country, if not the best player in the country."
Q. Does the loss of Martavis Bryant change anything that you do?
Morris. "No. Charone Peake, Jaron Brown, those guys are good players. They're going to have to step up and continue. It hurts us some on depth at the receiver position, but we're going to be fine."
VIDEO INTERVIEW: MORRIS - Part 1
VIDEO INTERVIEW: MORRIS - Part 2
VIDEO INTERVIEW: MORRIS - Part 3
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