Tony Elliott, Clemson’s offensive coordinator and a staple on the Tigers’ championship teams under Dabo Swinney, has been hired as the next head football coach at Virginia, the school announced Friday.
Elliott traveled to Charlottesville on Wednesday with his family to meet with UVa athletic director Carla Williams and school officials but returned on Thursday without a deal in place. He was also heavily pursued by Duke for the Blue Devils’ head-coaching job. After spending Thursday night and much of Friday contemplating his options, Elliott informed Virginia officials on Friday afternoon that he was taking the job. At one point, a source close to Elliott indicated that he was torn about what to do.
Earlier Friday morning before Elliott decided to take the Virginia job, the Virginia Board of Visitors approved a request from the athletic department to transfer $10.3 million from the UVa endowment to go toward a proposed $65 million football facility.
Elliott, 42, has been selective over the past few years when schools have pursued him. He turned down the Tennessee head-coaching job a year ago, and Auburn and South Carolina also showed interest in hiring him. He’s been a member of Clemson’s staff since 2011 and the Tigers’ primary playcaller on offense the past seven seasons.
A graduate of Clemson, Elliott worked in the business world after his college playing days were over. He spent two seasons coaching at South Carolina State and three seasons coaching at Furman before returning to his alma mater in 2011 as running backs coach. Elliott was the winner of the Frank Broyles Award in 2017 as the country’s top assistant coach.
Elliott replaces Bronco Mendenhall at Virginia. Mendenhall plans to step down as the Cavaliers’ head coach following the upcoming bowl game after six seasons in Charlottesville.
Virginia becomes the fourth Power 5 school with a Black athletic director and Black head football coach, joining Arizona State, Stanford and Maryland.
With Elliott leaving Clemson, that means Swinney now has to replace both of his coordinators. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables left earlier this week to take the Oklahoma head-coaching job. Clemson senior defensive assistant Wes Goodwin is the strong favorite to replace Venables and that move is expected to be officially announced next week. Clemson quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter is a serious candidate to replace Elliott as offensive coordinator.