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Dr. Saturday

Clemson’s Orange Bowl debacle costs Kevin Steele his job

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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Eight days after West Virginia embarrassed Clemson's defense in a 70-33 rout in the Orange Bowl, Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele is out.

"I have had a great experience at Clemson and feel good about what we have accomplished the last three years," Steele said in a statement. "But, there are some other coaching opportunities I wish to pursue at this time.

"It has been rewarding to see this program grow to the point of winning Clemson's first ACC Championship in 20 years. I want to thank the coaches and players who worked so hard these last three years. Clemson is a special place and I wish the program and the players continued success."

While Steele cited "other coaching opportunities" as his reason for leaving, it's hard not to think the poor defensive showing at the Orange Bowl didn't have something to do with it.

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West Virginia's 70 points were the most scored by one team in any bowl in history. While the game was close early, the Tigers allowed five touchdowns in the second quarter, including three in the final 2:29 of the half. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith tied a bowl record with six touchdown passes. The final margin, 37 points, was the largest in BCS history.

While the Orange Bowl was bad, it was just the end to a rough defensive season. Clemson ranked 81st nationally in scoring defense, allowing 29.2 points per game, which was good for 10th in the ACC. It was a huge disappointment considering the Tigers led the conference in that category last year and boasted the three All-ACC defenders in defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins, safety DeAndre McDaniel. During Steele's three seasons with Clemson, the Tigers have had eight first or second-team All-ACC selections on defense.

Steele shouldn't have trouble landing on his feet. Despite this setback, he does have a good resume, which includes spending two seasons at Alabama as the defensive coordinator and as an associate head coach and serving as executive head coach and linebackers' coach for Bobby Bowden at Florida State. Steele also won a national championship as the linebackers coach at Nebraska in 1994.

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Graham Watson is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow her @Yahoo_Graham

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