Tiger football loses one of its best
by HEATH MILLS
This article originally appeared in The Tiger on March 7, 2003 | PRINT

Rick Stockstill was a Clemson man. Though he graduated from Florida State in 1981, he appeared to bleed orange more than any other coach on the Clemson staff, save Clemson alumnus Mike O'Cain.

Stockstill did something very few assistant coaches ever accomplish during his tenure at Clemson -- he survived three head coaching changes. When most head coaches take over a new program they bring their own assistants from former schools, family members (well, at least Tommy) and rarely consider hanging onto to any of the "leftovers." Coach Stockstill proved he was an asset to three new head coaches that chose to keep him on staff rather than bringing in their own man. In fact, Stockstill is the only coach in Clemson history to survive that many regime changes.

Stockstill proved to be an asset as both a position coach and a recruiter. He served as a quarterback coach under Danny Ford, a co-offensive coordinator under Ken Hatfield and a wide receivers coach under Tommy West and Tommy Bowden. Bowden also named him recruiting coordinator in 1999 and he showed his ability to smooze blue-chip prospects such as Roscoe Crosby, Rod Garder, Willie Simmons and Airese Curry.

When asked by Tiger fans why he loved to be at Clemson during an internet chat, Coach "Stock," as he is usually called, replied, "It's the opportunity to coach at a school that has so much passion towards football."

Stock lived the ups and downs of the Tiger football program more than anyone during the past 14 years and always came to work with a passion to return Clemson to the top of the college football world. Many often joked Clemson should give Stock a lifetime contract. Unfortunately, now the Tigers will be battling him on the recruiting trail for years to come.

In the end, as much as Coach Stock loved Clemson, it was his love for football that drove him away. Knowing the only way he could ever become a head coach was to continue to move up the coaching ranks, Stock could not pass up the opportunity to take the offensive coordinator job at East Carolina and take the final hurdle before a head coach position will undoubtedly follow.

Still this was not a man who was looking for the first opportunity to promote himself. Considering Stock spent 14 years at Clemson and the success he had, other jobs had surely been offered. It was only the love of this university, the players, the atmosphere and the fans that kept him here as long as he was. And now that he has gone, Tiger fans should do nothing but thank him for staying and bettering the football program for as long as he did.

Stock said it best himself when asked about his decision. "To be completely honest with you it was a very difficult and very emotional decision," he replied. "For so long I have always put other people and Clemson and everything ahead of myself. This was the first time that I really looked at something and said what is best for Rick.

"To be completely honest with you, I really struggled with it for a couple of days. Having to tell these players, that was extremely hard. Had I told them before I accepted the job I don't believe I would have accept the job. It was very emotional. It was difficult for me to do that. At the same token it's also an opportunity that I felt would be good for me and my family and one I needed to take a crack at."

Coach Bowden had nothing but praise for his former assistant on the day of the announcement. "Clemson has been to a bowl game 11 of the last 14 years and Rick Stockstill has certainly had a lot to do with that," said Bowden. "He has had a positive effect on many young men and the coaches with whom he has worked.

Thank you Coach Stock for all that you have done for Clemson over the years. No matter where life may take you, we wish you success except against our Tigers. Good luck and thanks again.

Go Tigers!

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