Just a few months ago, Shawn Elliott turned down an offer to be the head coach for his alma mater, the Appalachian State Mountaineers, putting to bed - or so we thought - any concern that the 3rd year Gamecock offensive line coach and run game coordinator would leave South Carolina for another opportunity.
But then Chip Kelly hired Jeff Stoutland away from Alabama, creating a void at the position of offensive line coach with the Crimson Tide. Reports surfaced Thursday evening that Saban has been in contact with Elliott and that there is at least some degree of mutual interest.
For reasons cited here and the fact that Elliott has emerged as one of the Gamecocks' premier recruiters*, losing the fiery line coach to Nick Saban would be a major setback.
*Elliott has a lot to do with the Gamecocks' early leads with, among others, 2014 OL prospects Bentley Spain and Donnell Stanley and WR target Shaq Davidson.
Here is what we know:
- While South Carolina pays Elliott well, they do not have the resources to match Alabama dollar-for-dollar if Nick Saban decides that Elliott is the guy that he wants for the job.
- Ceteris paribus, coaching the offensive line for NIck Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide is a better gig than coaching the offensive line for Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks.
- Shawn Elliott is intensely loyal, and has expressed an interest in staying at South Carolina for a long time.
- While Elliott is on Saban's short list for the vacancy, he is not the only name on that list. UCF offensive line coach Brent Key is a name that continues to pop up regarding the position.
Here is what we don't know:
- How much of of a raise and or promotion Ray Tanner and Steve Spurrier are willing to give Elliott to keep him around. I could see throwing another $100K or so his way (on top of the $300K he currently earns), but the only place to go from offensive line coach/run game coordinator is offensive coordinator or assistant head coach. One of the HBC's go-to quips is that he's going to keep calling the plays as long as he can remember them.
- Just how wedded is Elliott to remaining in Columbia? In addition to his devotion to the program, Elliott also has three young daughters, and uprooting their lives for a lateral move could prove a significant barrier to plucking him from the Gamecocks.
- How much does Saban want Elliott?
Here is what me might know:
- A source is telling Phil Kornblut that Elliott recently turned down an opportunity to interview for the offensive line job with the Pittsburgh Steelers. If this report is true, it would be a strong indication of just how much it would take to pry Elliott away from Columbia.
What are y'all thinking on this? Do you think we can hang onto him? If Elliott does leave, who should we go after? Are we getting too far ahead of ourselves? Is this, coupled with the incessant Clowney-should-sit-out talk, conjuring up abandonment issues you first developed when your parents divorced while you were at an impressionable age?