Clemson looks to keep winning with new staff

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CLEMSON, S.C. – Change can bring chaos. It can also bring excitement. And new Clemson offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter believes it’s a hungry, energized team that has embraced the Tigers’ new leaders.

“Anytime you have a new starter, a fresh start with new people, new faces, it’s something different,” said Streeter, who takes control of the offense after Tony Elliott left to become Virginia’s head coach.

“When there’s something different,” Streeter continued, “there’s usually some excitement to it, too.”

The Tigers wrapped up spring workouts with their annual Orange-White game on a cold, windy Saturday at Death Valley.

It was the first chance for Clemson’s new leadership and staff to showcase their ability to guide the Tigers, who have had 10 or more wins for 11 consecutive seasons.

Along with Elliott, ex-Clemson analyst Wes Goodwin and safeties coach Mickey Conn are co-defensive coordinators after longtime leader Brent Venables became Oklahoma’s coach.

Former Clemson center Thomas Austin, an offensive analyst last year, is the first year offensive line coach after Robbie Caldwell moved to an off-the-field position in the program.

Kyle Richardson took over Clemson’s tight ends, a position Elliott coached last season.

And former Tigers defensive end Nick Eason was hired to coach defensive tackles in place of Todd Bates, who followed Venables to Oklahoma.

It’s a lot to absorb for the Tigers, whose staff stability has been a large part of their success with six Atlantic Coast Conference titles and national championships after the 2016 and 2018 seasons.

“It’s rare to have these coaches and this coaching staff together and tight knit for so long,” said defensive end K.J. Henry, in his fifth season with the Tigers. “This is not our norm. But at the same time, it’s been easy because they’re Clemson guys.”

Goodwin and Conn’s defense had the edge on Streeter’s offense. The two defenses combined for nine sacks in the first half on quarterbacks in junior D.J. Uiagalelei and freshman Cade Klubnik. Both teams combined for minus 31 rushing the first 30 minutes.

The 37-year-old Goodwin was seen by outsiders as the surprise hire. But he’s been a behind-the-scenes star for the Tigers, both as a defensive analyst from 2012-2014 and, after three years with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, a senior, off-the-field assistant from 2018-21.

Clemson has been a regular among the nation’s best defensive teams during Venables’ 10 years leading the group. Goodwin is ready to show the critics he can keep the Tigers’ strong defense going.

“We got some stuff (Brent Venables) don’t know about,” Goodwin said last month. “I’ve been other places and we know ball as well.”

Goodwin is a different voice than Venables, but one who knows what he’s talking about just like the defense’s former coach, said defensive end Myles Murphy.

“Coach V is very rowdy, loud, he likes the aggressiveness,” said Murphy, a junior. “Coach Wes is the same way. He’s not going to yell 24-7, but he will get you a defense that’s very loud and very aggressive and we still get to the ball.”

That was evident Saturday as both offenses were held to a combined total of 329 yards. Henry and Murphy combined for 6 1/2 sacks, although play was halted when the defensive linemen came close to the quarterbacks.

Tight end Jake Briningstool said elevating Streeter as the leader on offense made the hand-off simple because he’d long been part of the offensive gameplan.

Briningstool said the adjustment started in Clemson’s 20-13 win over Iowa State in the Cheez-it Bowl last December and has only improved this spring. “It’s kind of heading in the right direction for the tight end position and offense as a whole. I’m really excited about the future.”

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney enjoyed dipping in and out of offensive and defensive meetings, observing the interaction.

“There’s a lot of trust and respect with these players and this staff,” Swinney said. “It’s going to be fun.”

Georgia extends contract for AD Josh Brooks, plans two new football practice fields

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ATHENS, Ga. – On the heels of a second straight national football championship, Georgia has rewarded athletic director Josh Brooks a contract extension that ties him to the Bulldogs through at least 2029.

The athletic association board, wrapping up its annual spring meeting Friday at a resort on Lake Oconee, also announced plans for a new track and field facility that will free up space for two more football practice fields.

Brooks’ new contract will increase his salary to $1.025 million a year, with annual raises of $100,000.

The 42-year-old Brooks, who took over the athletic department in 2021 after Greg McGarity retired, called the Georgia job “a dream for me” and said he hopes to spend the rest of his career in Athens.

“I am extremely grateful,” Brooks said. “I got into this business 20-plus years ago as a student equipment manager. My first job at Louisiana-Monroe was making $20,000 a year in football operations.”

The Georgia board approved a fiscal 2024 budget of $175.2 million, a nearly 8% increase from the most recent budget of $162.2 million and the sign of a prosperous program that is flush with money after its success on the gridiron.

The school received approval to move forward with its preliminary plans for a new track and field facility, which will be built across the street from the complex hosting the soccer and and softball teams.

The current track stadium is located adjacent to the Butts-Mehre athletic facility, which hosts the practice fields and training facilities for the football program.

Georgia lost a chunk of its outdoor fields when it built a new indoor practice facility. After the new track and field stadium is completed, the current space will be converted to two full-length, grass football practice fields at the request of coach Kirby Smart.

“He wants to find efficient ways to practice, and there is a lot of truth to the issues we’ve had with our current practice fields,” Brooks said. “There is a lot of strain on our turf facilities staff to keep that field in great shape when half the day it is getting shade, so that has been a challenge as well. For our football program, it is better to practice on grass fields than (artificial) turf, so to be able to have two side-by-side grass fields is huge. It makes for a much more efficient practice.”

The new track and field complex, which will continue to be named Spec Towns Track, will also include an indoor facility, the first of its kind in the state of Georgia.

Iowa AD Gary Barta announces retirement after 17 years at Big Ten school

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa athletic director Gary Barta will retire on August 1 after 17 years at the university, the school announced Friday.

Barta, 59, is one of the longest-tenured athletic directors in a Power Five conference. He was hired by Iowa in 2006 after being the AD at Wyoming.

An interim director will be announced next week, Iowa said.

In September, Iowa hired former Ball State athletic director Beth Goetz to be deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer, putting her in position to possibly succeed Barta.

“It has been an absolute privilege and honor to serve in this role the past 17 years,” Barta said in a statement. “This decision didn’t come suddenly, nor did it come without significant thought, discussion, and prayer.”

“That said, I’m confident this is the right time for me and for my family.”

Iowa won four NCAA national team titles and 27 Big Ten team titles during Barta’s tenure. The women’s basketball team is coming off an appearance in the national championship game and the wrestling team is coming off a second-place finish at the NCAA championships.

Barta served as the chairman of the College Football Playoff committee in 2020 and 2021.

He faced heavy criticism over more than $11 million in settlements for lawsuits in recent years alleging racial and sexual discrimination within the athletic department.

Lawsuits filed by former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum and associate athletics director Jane Meyer led to a $6.5 million payout.

Iowa had to pay $400,000 as part of a Title IX lawsuit brought by athletes after it cut four sports in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the agreement, Iowa reinstated the women’s swimming and diving program and add another women’s sport.

Iowa added women’s wrestling, the first among Power Five schools to compete this year.

A lawsuit brought by former football players alleging racial discrimination within the program was settled for $4.2 million last March, which prompted state auditor Rob Sand to call for Barta’s ouster.

“Gary Barta’s departure is a long time coming given the four different lawsuits for discrimination that cost Iowa more than $11 million,” Sand posted on Twitter.

The university did not allow taxpayer money to be used for the settlement with the former players.

Barta led Iowa through $380 million of facility upgrades, including renovation of Kinnick Stadium, the construction of a new football facility, a basketball practice facility and a training center for the wrestling teams.

Under Barta, Iowa has had just one head football coach (Kirk Ferentz), women’s basketball coach (Lisa Bluder) and wrestling coach (Tom Brands). All were in place when he arrived.

Barta has also come under scrutiny for allowing Ferentz to employee his son, Brian Ferentz, as offensive coordinator. To comply with the university’s nepotism policy, Brian Ferentz reports to Barta.