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Tennessee hires Richmond head coach as offensive coordinator.


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Tennessee hires Richmond head coach as offensive coordinator

Clawson led Spiders to record-breaking season in 2007

Published on: 01/11/08

BRICHMOND, Va. (AP) Calling the chance to become offensive coordinator at Tennessee "too good of an opportunity to pass up," an emotional Dave Clawson resigned Friday as Richmond's football coach.

"I just felt that this was one of those very special, unique opportunities that I could not turn down," Clawson said in a news conference. "I think it's a very exciting opportunity to coach at one of the best football programs in the entire country."

Clawson said he had met with his coaching staff collectively and most of them individually, but struggled to contain himself when asked about telling the team.

"That, I think, will be the hardest part," he said.

The meeting with the team was scheduled for 3 p.m.

The Spiders this season set records for victories with 11, points with 489, total offense, touchdowns, scoring average and rushing. They advanced to the semifinals of the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known and Division I-AA. They lost 55-35 to eventual national champion Appalachian State.

Clawson, who signed a contract extension at Richmond last week, said he told athletic director Jim Miller that his dream was to coach at the BCS level. When he interviewed at Tennessee and was offered the job, he had to accept it, he said.

"When I say that my family loved the Richmond community, that's an understatement," he said. "This has been the best job I've ever had, this has been the best place I've ever lived and if things had progressed in a way that I would have been at Richmond for the next 20 years, I was very on a personal level I was very content with that.

"On a professional level, coaches are driven and I'm no different. The challenge of coaching in the (Southeastern Conference) at Tennessee, I think, is a great challenge and one that was too good of an opportunity to pass up."

Defensive lineman Lawrence Sidbury Jr. said while the team was surprised by Clawson's announcement, he understands the decision.

"When you're coach of the year twice, people are going to come after you," Sidbury said. "It was a good opportunity to be offensive coordinator at Tennessee. They have some of the best recruits in the nation every year. Who could say no?"

Sidbury said he respects the way Clawson always pushed him, never allowing him to settle for less.

"I think his biggest legacy was getting everybody into a winning mind-set," Sidbury said. "Before, when you thought about Richmond, you thought about up-and-down seasons, not very successful. He said you had to work hard to get what you wanted, and once you start winning, never be complacent. Winning is to be expected."

Clawson, 40, compiled a 29-20 record with the Spiders and led them to winning seasons his last three years, the first time the Spiders have done that in 52 years.

He becomes the latest coach to leave Richmond for a bigger job.

Men's basketball coach John Beilein left after five seasons in 2002 to become the head coach at West Virginia, and his replacement, Jerry Wainwright, stayed only three seasons before bolting for DePaul. That came less than two weeks after women's coach Joanne Boyle, who also had been at Richmond just three years, left for California.

Still, Miller insisted, "we are not a stepping stone."

"Some people decide the University of Richmond is the right place for them and they're here for a long time," Miller said, noting that of the 16 coaches hired in his seven years, most remain at the school or have gone on to jobs with bigger programs.

"Some people decide that wherever is a good place for them to stay. Some people decide they want new and different challenges. I'm not disappointed at all."

The truth, he said, is that Clawson's success at the private school made him attractive to Vols coach Phillip Fulmer, and that success is expected to continue.

"Our situation is very positive," Miller said. "We've got a final four team, we've got a whole bunch of good kids coming back and we're going to be a good football team next year. ... People are excited with what's going on with Richmond football."

Clawson said he will recommend that Russ Huesman, his defensive coordinator, be named to replace him, but Miller plans to head up a national search committee.

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It's a very good move, IMO, for the Vols. Clawson is a very accomplished, offensively aggressive coach. Everywhere he's been, his offense has produced...and at 40, he's a very young coach, himself. Should Clawson prove as successful at UT as I think he will, then this move essentially brings in Fulmer's successor for 2-3 years down the road. I think Phil wants to retire somewhere around 60, which should give Clawson a couple of seasons to entrench himself on Rocky Top, as the heir to the crown, so to speak...;)

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