Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator Eddie Gran has known head coach Tommy Tuberville for roughly 25 years. The two are so close that Tuberville was the best man at Gran’s wedding.
But the Bearcats new co-defensive coordinator Steve Clinkscale had no connection to the boss when he joined the UC coaching staff in 2013.
“I had never heard of him,” said Tuberville. “He got lost somewhere up in the snow around Toledo and Illinois. We were looking for a secondary coach and I wanted one that knew recruiting in Northern Ohio, Michigan, and Chicago and his name kept coming up.”
Clinkscale had just finished his first year on the Illinois staff after spending three years at Toledo.
“I told (Coach Tuberville) when I met him that it felt like I had known him for 10 to 15 years,” said Clinkscale. “We just kind of clicked right away.”
Tuberville gave Gran his first opportunity to be a coordinator two years ago and now he’s doing the same thing for Clinkscale who will call the defense for the first time in his 15-year coaching career.
“I couldn’t ask for a better situation than working under Coach Tuberville,” said Clinkscale. “He’s been a great defensive coordinator and he’s been a great mentor to me – teaching me what to call, when to call it, and understanding game situations. I’m super excited to get out there at Nippert Stadium and call the defense and let our guys go out there and play ball.”
Perhaps Tuberville’s most important piece of advice is to keep the defense simple.
“The thing that you can’t do is try to do too much,” said Tuberville. “It’s better to do less than more. You tend to think that doing more will help you, but players win games – coaches don’t. Don’t screw ‘em up. Don’t put ‘em in a position where they can’t have success and don’t put ‘em in a position where they have to think. If they’ve got to think about what they’re doing then they are going to play slow. Get them in situations where they feel comfortable, get them lined up, and turn them loose and let them play.”
The 37-year-old Clinkscale is a very animated, energetic, and hands-on coach and the defense displayed more outward enthusiasm during training camp than it has in recent seasons.
“He brings the juice man,” said defensive end Silverberry Mouhon. “Whenever practice may seem down, he’s up there going crazy and slapping helmets. We all respect him a lot. He brings the energy when we need it.”
“He’s tough,” said safety Zach Edwards. “I want to say he’s like a father figure, but I feel like he’s a big brother. He’s going to protect you and have your back, but he’s also going to get on you and push you to do better.”
“You have to push them because they can go a lot harder than they think,” said Clinkscale. “I’ve been there as a player where I thought I was done and couldn’t do any more and I was pushed and motivated to work harder. That’s what I do with our players and they respond well. I strongly believe as a coach that you can’t go out there and be mild-mannered. If you want them to be enthusiastic and you want them to work hard, then you have to do the same thing.”
“We’re really practicing well on the defensive side of the ball,” said Tuberville. “We are more fundamentally sound than what we’ve been. He gets into their heads a little more and I think he understands the little things about defensive football.”
Clinkscale grew up as a police officer’s son in Youngstown, OH and hopes the Bearcats defense reflects his upbringing.
“My father told me to, ‘Always be the hardest worker in whatever you do.’” said Clinkscale. “That’s how I’ve always been as a player, coach, and human being.
“And people in Youngstown are kind of in survival mode. The economics there are very low. But the people there believe in one another, count on one another, and root for one another. It molded me as a young man to always have a bit of a chip on my shoulder and to out-work and prove people wrong.”
His chance to prove himself as a defensive coordinator begins on Saturday night.
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