Somewhat lost amidst Clemson’s ongoing celebration of its first national championship in more than three decades was the fact that Dabo Swinney had two holes to fill on his title-winning coaching staff. In one fell swoop Tuesday, Swinney filled both.
Mickey Conn and Todd Bates, the school confirmed in a press release, have been hired by Swinney as part of his nine-man on-field staff. Bates will coach the Tigers’ defensive line, while Conn, who spent 2016 as a senior defensive analyst for the Tigers and was a teammate of Swinney’s on Alabama’s 1992 national title team, will handle cornerbacks.
The two assistants will replace defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks and defensive line coach Marion Hobby, with the former retiring at season’s end and the latter leaving for the same job with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.
“These are two outstanding men who are very good fits with our staff,” said Swinney. “Of course Mickey was on our staff last year and already has a strong knowledge of what we do. Todd is the same age I was (33) when I came to Clemson. He has worked our camp in recent years. I remember one of the camp days Coach (Dan) Brooks came to me and said, ‘Todd Bates is the best coach we have out here.’ I have been following his career closely.”
Bates, also an Alabama graduate, spent the past three seasons as the line coach at FCS Jacksonville. This will be his first on-field job at the FBS level.
Prior to coming to Clemson last year, Conn had spent the previous 16 seasons as a high school head coach in Colorado.