Why Chad Morris Would Be SMU’s Best Choice for Next Head Coach

The end of the 2014 college football regular season continues to draw closer, which means the coaching carousel will soon be put in motion.

But for some teams, like the SMU Mustangs, the search for a new head coach is already underway. In SMU’s case, it has been underway since June Jones announced his resignation on September 8. Rumors have swirled since over who will replace Jones in Dallas, with the majority of them focusing on SMU’s attempts to gauge former Texas coach Mack Brown’s interest in the opening.

Though Brown is an enticing option, he might not be the best choice to lead forward a program that has failed to find sustained success since getting hit with the “death penalty” in 1987.

Numerous names have been thrown around besides Brown, from UTSA head coach Larry Coker to Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman, but SMU athletic director Rick Hart should be taking a look eastward to Clemson, South Carolina if he wants to find the best man for the job.

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris has been a name brought up countless times over the past few years in various coaching searches across the country, and he even interviewed for the Texas Tech opening upon Mike Leach’s departure in 2012.

Morris would be a perfect fit for the Mustangs because, like Herman and ECU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, he has Texas ties.

Morris was born and raised in the state and also attended Texas A&M. Before breaking into the college ranks, he spent 16 years coaching high school football in Texas, during which he won a pair of state titles at Lake Travis High School. After spending one season at Tulsa (2010), he jumped ship to Clemson, where he’s been the offensive coordinator under Dabo Swinney for the last four years.

SMU paid Jones $1.9 million annually, but would have to pay a heftier price tag if they are to lure Morris to the Hilltop. Clemson currently is paying Morris $1.3 million annually, making him the highest-paid assistant in college football. Though his services would be expensive, SMU seems willingly to open up its checkbook for its next head coach.

Not surprisingly, much of the media focus has been on Mack Brown given his time with the Longhorns and the ease of drawing parallels between him and Larry Brown, who has found unprecedented success with the Mustangs’ men’s basketball program.

However, Morris is unquestionably qualified for the job and would probably come for less than an eight-year, $32 million contract. And although Morris, 45, isn’t quite as young as someone like Riley (31) or even Herman (39), he is much younger than Brown, which might be better for the Mustangs.

The only real question is whether or not Morris would actually be willing to come to a program like SMU.

Though it’s unclear exactly how much interest Morris has in the SMU opening, they seem like a match made in heaven. He has plenty of ties to Texas, and could be just the man to jumpstart a program that could be headed for a winless season and has been mostly a laughingstock for the last quarter century. If he is able to accomplish that, it’s hard to imagine there wouldn’t be a major school in the country giving him serious consideration if they have an opening.

Whether or not this move happens remains to be seen, but Chad Morris just might be the perfect hire for the SMU Mustangs.

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