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Clemson’s Elliott returns home after hitting ‘snags’ in Virginia search process

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott flew back home to South Carolina on Thursday afternoon after his negotiations to become Virginia’s head football coach hit “snags.”

Sources said that Elliott has not completely pulled out of the Virginia job, but returned home to consider UVA, Duke, or to remain at Clemson. The Tigers’ coach confirmed that once he touched down back home.

Once he returned to the Oconee County Airport late Thursday, Elliott told the “Clemson Insider” that there has been “no decision yet” on the Virginia job. When asked who’s decision it is (for him to become head coach of the Cavaliers), he said, “It’s my decision.”

Reports out of the Clemson camp said last night that “it appeared an agreement to make Elliott the Cavaliers’ next head coach was imminent.”

Almost the exact terminology used from sources extremely close to the Anthony Poindexter interviews in Las Vegas last Monday, when negotiations between Virginia and Penn State’s co-defensive coordinator hit “snags.”

Should Elliott decide to go in a different direction, UVA would be 0-for-2 with its top two choices to succeed Bronco Mendenhall, who suddenly resigned last week.

It was Elliott’s second interview with UVA athletics director Carla Williams. This time, Elliott brought his family with him on Wednesday, normally a high indicator that the candidate plans on accepting and staying around for an announcement. Not this time.

Elliott has turned down at least seven other coaching opportunities in the past and is intensively thorough in researching a potential job.

Duke has made him its top candidate, although has others lined up should he opt out of replacing longtime Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe. Elliott has been the play-caller for Dabo Swinney’s offense for the past seven years.

Reports out of Michigan indicate that UVA is looking at Wolverines’ offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, who, like Elliott, is a Frank Broyles Award winner, which recognizes the top assistant coach in the nation. Another unsubstantiated report claimed that Gattis was in Charlottesville on Thursday night to talk about the job.

Yet another unsubstantiated report was that Virginia’s plane was in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Thursday night with a flight plan returning to Charlottesville on Friday morning. Pete Golding, the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinator, is believed to be on Virginia’s radar. Golding, who also coaches the inside linebackers, has been on Nick Saban’s staff for the past four years.

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