‘Coach Elliott Is An Exceptional Leader Of Young Men’| UVA Wahoos Hire Tony Elliott, Making Him Second Black Football Coach In School History

Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott has landed his first head coaching opportunity leading the Virginia Cavaliers football program. It’s been quite a month for Black college football coaches.

Mel Tucker got the $95M bag from Michigan State. James Franklin extended his stay in Happy Valley for 10 years, $85M guaranteed. Marcus Freeman got the Notre Dame job, Hue Jackson takes his NFL pedigree to Grambling State, and now Elliott gets the nod to lead UVA into the next decade.

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The Cavaliers were surprised by the resignation of former head coach Bronco Mendenhall a couple weeks ago. The university has been looking for a replacement in Charlottesville. After a search that lasted about a week, many believed former UVA great Anthony Poindexter would land the job.

Mendenhall suggested that stepping down was solely his decision:

Tony Elliott Brings A Wealth Of Knowledge And Experience

Elliott has been on the staff at Clemson, his alma mater, since 2011. In 2015 he moved into the role of co-offensive coordinator, and he’s been the offensive coordinator for the Tigers since 2020. Just this season he had assistant head coach added to his title.

A 2017 Broyles Award winner (top assistant), Elliott also helped guide the Tigers to an 89-10 record along with two national championships (2016 and 2018). The Tigers also won six straight ACC championships from 2015 through 2020.

Elliott has spent his coaching career in his home state of South Carolina with stints at South Carolina State and Furman.

UVA athletics director Carla Williams had this to say at Friday’s announcement:

“This is an awesome opportunity for the University of Virginia as we welcome coach Tony Elliott into the UVA family. Coach Elliott is a winner, in every sense of the word. He is known for his character, humility, work ethic, skill set and passion for education.
“Coach Elliott is an exceptional leader of young men and he is highly regarded across college football as a talented teacher and coach. He is an outstanding recruiter who has been responsible for recruiting, signing and developing scholar-athletes while competing for and winning championships.”

Elliott Is An Elite Recruiter And Developer Of Talent

In Elliott’s time at Clemson he recruited some elite talent and developed them for the next level. Some of his top recruits include Deshaun Watson (Texans), Travis Etienne (Jaguars), Ray-Ray McCloud (Steelers), Deon Cain (Eagles), Sammy Watkins (Ravens), Wayne Gallman (Giants), Mackensie Alexander (Vikings) and a host of other talented current and former players.

His game plan to defeat the 2016 Alabama Crimson Tide in the CFP championship game was nothing short of sensational. His offense led by Watson ran 99 offensive plays against the vaunted BAMA defense. And on the 99th play they broke the Tide’s defense and stole the title on a Watson-to-Hunter Renfrow (Las Vegas Raiders) game-winning touchdown. That moment made Elliott a household name.


His latest big-time recruit, QB D.J Uiagalelei, played well last season but struggled this season. Elliott called him out about lack of preparation but also built the young QB back up by celebrating his leadership.

Elliott Is The Second Black Coach In UVA History

Elliott joins Mike London as the only Black coaches to grace the sidelines in Charlottesville.

London started out well but quickly fizzled, going 27-46 and 14-34 in the ACC over six seasons from 2010 to 2015.

The Elliott signing also comes just four years after civil unrest sparked in the Charlottesville area, with then President Trump condoning the reprehensible and heinous acts that took place that day near the UVA campus. Now Elliott, a Black man, was just hired by a Black woman to move the most important job on campus, as far as revenue goes.

We’ll see if he’s ready for it. His résumé and track record suggest he is.

He’ll need to win some recruiting wars in northern Virginia and the Tidewater area to be successful. Recruiting is his strength, so his chances are high.

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