Goodwin was one of those internal promotions that Swinney made following the 2021 season, and he was probably the least-known name at the time that joined the staff.
Outside of short tenures with his alma mater Mississippi State and the Arizona Cardinals, Goodwin’s experience came as a graduate assistant and a defensive analyst with Clemson. He had never been an on-the-field coach at the time Brent Venables left for Oklahoma.
Swinney did not hesitate to zero in on Goodwin as the next defensive coordinator. It was a risky move. Swinney had multiple coaches on staff who had more experience as a positional coach whom he could have promoted. He ran the risk of losing coaches who could have felt they were passed over unfairly. At least one coach did leave after Goodwin was promoted.
As one might expect, there were some growing pains for Goodwin’s defense in his first season. At first, it didn’t seem like his guys knew how to defend screen passes. The defensive backfield was brutalized at times.
2022 was a good but not great season for the defense. All eyes were focused on whether Goodwin would show progress after getting a season of experience.
The 2023 defense delivered. They improved in almost every category, and Goodwin himself was a nominee for the Frank Broyles Award, given annually to the top assistant coach in college football.
We only have a short tenure to judge Goodwin, but at this time it appears Swinney made a good decision when a lot of other coaches wouldn’t have had the guts to promote a guy like Goodwin to a position like defensive coordinator.
No. 4: Chad Morris