Jennings gets his last chance, Chad Morris update, Clemson’s Sugar Bowl chances and Clemson’s final argument

NORTHWESTERN COMMAND – Clemson forward Milton Jennings appears to have received a fourth opportunity, a pardon, from Brad Brownell today.

The Clemson coach said Jennings, the former Pinewood Prep star and Clemson’s leading scorer, will “likely” return from suspension next Saturday vs. Arizona.

He will miss the South Carolina game for what Brownell called a “selfish act.”

Jennings was suspended after his drug arrest on Wednesday on a simple possession of marijuana charge, his third suspension in 11 months.

But credit Brownell for not making a quick decision, and doing the right thing, I think. None of Jennings’ offenses were heinous. None of the acts, individually, are a chronic issue. There was a verbal jawing with Brownell, skipping a study hall, and now the minor drug charge.  Jennings’ tough background must also be considered. He described his childhood as “terrible” to CBSSports.com in 2008.

At the end of the day this is a kid who has made progress, according to those who know him well. Is it enough progress? Brownell apparently thinks so.

Brownell said he feels Jennings has made progress on and off the court in his 2 1/2 years with the program. Until Wednesday, Jennings was on a positive trajectory. He took a step back Wednesday. Now can he take this last opportunity and take two steps forward?

He can’t afford another slip-up, this we know.

His former AAU coach Rufus McDonald deserves an assist. I spoke to McDonald earlier today who told me he drove to Clemson on Thursday to meet with Brownell and ask he give Jennings one last chance.

It might have been an important visit as Brownell told McDonald Jennings’ suspension was “indefinite” Thursday. On Friday the suspension was given a clear and short period of duration.

“Coach Brad Brownell is in a tough spot. I gained great appreciation of him yesterday. … Many coaches would make a snap, quick decision,” McDonald said. “I really think (Brownell) is in Milt’s corner. I don’t think it’s just ‘Hey this kid is going to help me win some games’ … I don’t think it’s that, everyone knows they are going to have a moderate year at best. The AD knows that. He’s not doing it to salvage the season. I think he is taking his time because he is in Milt’s corner and he can help this young man not just today but down the road.”

McDonald guessed there was probably some pressure from the administration to kick Jennings off the team after the embarrassing the university a couple times over the last year but he credited Brownell with seeing the long-term picture regarding Jennings.

CHAD MORRIS UPDATE

Nothing like the silly season that is the coaching carousel, right?

There’s been some reports that Morris is no longer in consideration for the NC State job. I have not received a confirmation or denial from Morris, who has not responded to multiple messages.

I asked a NC State board of trustee member today where Morris stands.  The answer: “Don’t know. I do know preference is for head coaching experience. Not ruling others out, but …. ”

It sounds as if Sonny Dykes or perhaps an unknown wildcard is No. 1. But I wouldn’t rule Morris out from any coaching job until … they are all filled.

He’s an attractive candidate.

SUGAR DREAMING

I think it’s pretty certain that Clemson is headed to Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31 but an Oklahoma loss to TCU on Saturday opens up the door for a Sugar Bowl berth for the Tigers. Larry Williams reported Dan Radakovich is lobbying for a Sugar Bowl berth.

Either way, in either bowl game, Clemson is going to face a top-10 SEC team. Which team is most favorable for Clemson? I’d say LSU because it has no offense but those DEs ….

Either way, in either the bowl game, it will be a final chapter that defines Clemson’s season.

If the Tigers lose they’ll be viewed as a fraudulent 10-win team. If they win they will be viewed as relevant and perhaps be propelled to a top 5-8 preseason poll ranking next season.

To me, this is the most important bowl game, for perception, that Clemson has played in in some time.

 

4 thoughts on “Jennings gets his last chance, Chad Morris update, Clemson’s Sugar Bowl chances and Clemson’s final argument

    • Assuming Tajh Boyd returns, I think Clemson is an improved defensive front away from being a top 5-8 team next year. I think that’s a fairly objective assessment considering the Tigers are No. 15 with 60 freshmen and sophomores on scholarship this season

  1. I think one thing working against Morris is that he’s only been in college for three years. In an industry built on relationships (high school coaches, recruits, parents), Morris doesn’t seem to have much time on the ground to build a top-notch staff around him. At Clemson, Dabo’s been able to dangle top dollars at top assistants. I’m not sure NC State is committed enough to football to spend $2 million a year on coordinators.

    I think it’s funny that the ACC Champion is going to get stuck playing either the Big East Champion or the last selected at-large team while Clemson winds up in Atlanta or New Orleans against a top 10 SEC team. You mentioned LSU doesn’t have much of an offense but Florida’s not far behind. Clemson’s 2012 track record against ranked opponents with good defenses isn’t so hot though. As a sports writer, how are you not rooting for an LSU-Clemson matchup? The metaphors and analogies spewed in a Dabo/Les Miles press conference would be pure gold.

  2. Matt, I think you touched on a couple good points.

    I think the big thing working against Morris is the dollars. Morris is significantly more pricey than some of the non-FBS coaches NC State is looking at. Morris’ $1.3 million salary is twice that of Sonny Dyke’ compensation.

    Moreover, even if NC State was willing to double Morris’ pay – would State have enough cash to surround him with a quality staff?

    (The one area where Morris provides cost savings is that he would essentially double as an OC.)

    The other issue is does he have the relationships to build an effective staff and recruit well enough? I think this would be less of a concern if he were taking a job in Texas/Big 12 country but it might be more difficult for him in the Southeast. I think it could be tough for him to win at N.C. State, though even without entrenched relationships he was the lead recruiter for Chad Kelly and Zac Brooks.

    If I’m NC State I’d very interested in Morris. But at the end of the day Morris and Clemson are both best served if he returns in 2013, I think.

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