From the moment that the Tennessee job opened, one name remained in the mix — Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott. The up and coming assistant was in the mix to take the UCF job back in 2017, where ultimately Josh Heupel was hired.
However, the connections to Danny White ran deep, carrying over to Knoxville. Once White was hired at Tennessee, rumors began circulating that Elliott could be the frontrunner for the job. Elliott, a long-time assistant under Dabo Swinney, has been waiting for the right opportunity. Ultimately, he decided against taking the Tennessee job.
Per a report from Yahoo Sports, Elliott considered the Tennessee job, but opted not to pursue it.
“Really, really appreciative of Danny White and just his interest in me and having an opportunity to talk to him and go through that experience,” Elliott said. “Definitely it was something that I really had to sit down and think about and consider and pray about and talk to people and try to find the right confirmation.”
“At the end of the day, when I put everything on the table, it just wasn’t the right time,” Elliott said. “And so I’m just so happy to be in an environment where people embrace me even though I was going through that. Showing me support one way or another. Having an opportunity to have those conversations with coach (Dabo) Swinney just strengthens our relationship even more.”
I wanna be in a situation where I can hunker down and really fully invest in the community. Fully invest in the institution. Fully invest in the program. Build something special,” Elliott said. “Have my family kind of grow up in that community, very similar to how coach Swinney is. And so those are the things that I’m looking for. An opportunity to recruit. So just really, bottom line, an opportunity to win and win the right way and have the full support of everybody that touches that program.”
Elliott has served under Swinney since 2011. He played at Clemson from 2000-2003. Since 2011, Elliott has served as the running backs coach, tight ends coach, co-offensive coordinator and offensive coordinator. He’s regarded as one of the brightest up and coming minds in the college game, but just like defensive coordinator Brent Venables, he’s proven to be very selective with his next step.
Tennessee ultimately ended up hiring Josh Heupel, the same guy that Danny White hired at UCF to replace Scott Frost. Heupel will now be tasked with rebuilding the Tennessee football program, one that could be limited by NCAA sanctions following the Jeremy Pruitt era. Perhaps that played into Elliott’s decision not to take the job.
The Josh Heupel era will kick off later this month with spring practices, and then the Orange and White Game on April 24th.
Tennessee will host Bowling Green on Saturday, September 4th.