Confirming what was reported over the weekend, SMU officially announced the hiring of Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris as its next head coach.
Here’s Morris’ statement on accepting the job, per an SMU release:
“I’m excited about the future of SMU football, and my family is thrilled to be back in the state of Texas,” said Morris. “I want to thank Dr. (R. Gerald) Turner, Rick Hart and the search committee for this opportunity. I have to say it was a difficult decision to leave my fellow coaches and our student-athletes at Clemson. I want to thank them for buying into our vision and helping us build something special. I would especially like to thank Coach (Dabo) Swinney. It was a great experience and something I’ll always remember.
“I only left that great situation because I knew what we could accomplish at SMU. I grew up watching SMU football. I know the history and I know we can be great again. I look forward to working with our student-athletes and staff, as well as my friends and former colleagues, the Texas high school coaches, as we work towards winning championships here on the Hilltop. I can’t wait to get started.”
Morris was regarded as one of college football’s top assistants during his four years as Clemson’s offensive coordinator. This has to be a dream hire for SMU — two years ago, Morris interviewed for the head coaching position at Texas Tech — getting a high-profile coach with deep connections to the state of Texas.
Big selling point for Chad Morris: #txhsfb coaches LOVE him. He’s one of their own. That really matters in recruiting. See: Art Briles.
— Greg Tepper (@Tepper) December 1, 2014
Morris coached Texas high school football from 1994-2009, is a Texas A&M graduate and a native of Edgewood, Texas. Given all the competition from Power Five schools in the state, SMU isn’t an easy place to win — but it is the only FBS school in the city of Dallas and with some strong recruiting connections, Morris very well could be the guy to resuscitate a once-proud program.
“It is an honor and a pleasure to introduce Chad Morris as the Head Football Coach at SMU,” AD Rick Hart said in a statement. “His arrival on the Hilltop reinforces our commitment to compete at the highest level. Chad has earned an excellent reputation as a recruiter, a teacher and a leader. His character, integrity, passion, innovation, work ethic and competitiveness are valuable traits as we look to establish SMU as the best overall program in the American Athletic Conference. We welcome Chad, Paula, Mackenzie and Chandler to the Mustang Family and back home to Dallas, Texas.”
Update: Dabo Swinney and Clemson released a statement on Morris leaving for SMU:
“I am very happy for Chad and his family,” said Head Coach Dabo Swinney. “This is a great opportunity and he is the right fit for SMU.
“I am very appreciative of the job he has done here the last four years. We have 41 wins, the most in any four-year period in Clemson history, and the offense he has directed had a lot to do with that. Our offense has performed at a record rate for this four-year period.
“He is a hard worker and has represented our program in a first-class manner. We will miss Chad and his family and we wish him much success.”