CLEMSON — At Monday’s introductory news conference, new Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he would not address potential staff changes before the bowl game unless “a situation arises.”
Two situations have already arisen, and both apparently are Swinney’s doing.
Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning resigned Tuesday, according to a school release, but a source said Swinney informed Koenning he would not be retained for the 2009 season.
Also, Swinney has made his first hire, plucking Maryland tight ends coach Danny Pearman, a Clemson alum and friend of Swinneys, to coach the tight ends and tackles, a separate source said. Former offensive line coach Brad Scott will likely concentrate on centers and guards.
Koenning, who also oversaw the Tigers’ secondary, will not coach in the bowl game.
In the school’s statement, Swinney did not address how the staff would compensate for Koenning’s departure.
“I want to express my gratitude for what Vic Koenning did for this program the last four years and especially over the last seven weeks,” Swinney said. “The defensive numbers we have recorded the last four years speak for themselves.
“Vic is a tireless worker, and has the ability to get the most out of his players. They have great respect for him, and I know that means a lot to him. He has had a very positive impact on this program and will be missed.”
Koenning shared the news with several defensive players Tuesday afternoon.
He declined to comment when reached, saying, “All that stuff has got to come from Dabo.”
“All I’m going to say is I’m proud of the players and the staff for what we’ve accomplished.”
In the release, Koenning said: “It was a great run with coach Swinney the last seven weeks. He will do well at Clemson. It was a great experience here, but I was not certain of my role past the bowl game. So I think this is a good time for me to pursue other coaching opportunities.”
Koenning’s departure comes as no surprise, despite the fact his defense was arguably the backbone during Swinney’s successful six-game audition as interim coach.
The two were believed to have philosophical differences regarding the complexity and aggression of Koenning’s scheme.
After the Nov. 15 victory against Duke, several players said schematic changes were made with Swinney’s fingerprints on them, a notion Swinney didn’t refute.
Nonetheless, Koenning will not be out of a job long. In his four seasons, Clemson has ranked in the top 20 in total defense and top 16 in scoring defense.
The defense held the opponent to two touchdowns or fewer in five of Swinney’s six games as interim coach.
Koenning’s alma mater, Kansas State, is searching for a defensive coordinator, and Koenning has not confirmed whether an offer is on the table.
Pearman, 43, is returning to his old stomping grounds, having played as a Clemson tight end from 1984-87.
After serving as a Tigers graduate assistant from 1988-89, he joined the handful of Clemson assistants who wound up at Alabama after Danny Ford was fired.
His role at Clemson will be defined as Swinney fills out the rest of the staff. While his title at Maryland was tight ends coach, he worked with the offensive tackles as much as the tight ends.
This will be the fourth ACC school Pearman has worked for in as many years, and he has held a special teams title at each of the previous stops.
What that means for special teams coordinator Andre’ Powell, also the running backs coach, remains unclear.