SAN DIEGO – Offensive coordinator Clarence Shelmon will not return to the Chargers next season, he said Tuesday.
Shelmon, who spent 10 seasons with San Diego and 21 in the NFL, was the longest-tenured assistant coach along with current defensive coordinator John Pagano. The offensive coordinator from 2007-2011, Shelmon expects to pursue other things in the future and looks forward to traveling with his wife Nancy. The two plan to visit Istanbul this summer and take a three-week trip to South Africa in December.
“I’m just done,” said Shelmon, who coached football for a combined 37 years. “You know when it’s time. It’s time for me to go and do some other things with my life.”
A running backs coach from 1978-2006, Shelmon worked with some great players. LaDainian Tomlinson, Lorenzo Neal, Emmitt Smith and Chris Warren combined for 11 Pro Bowls under Shelmon’s tutelage. Shelmon also helped develop
“Clarence was a big part of five AFC West championship teams and three playoff wins in San Diego,” Head Coach Norv Turner said. “His work ethic and dedication to this team go back a long time and he’s had a positive effect on the many players he coached during his tenure here.”
Shelmon oversaw five consecutive 2,000-yard rushing seasons in San Diego from 2002-06. His coaching helped the Chargers rush for a team-record 2,578 yards and Tomlinson win the NFL MVP in ’06, a year before becoming offensive coordinator.
San Diego has averaged 26.9 points per game since Shelmon took a lead role in coordinating the Chargers’ offense, fourth in the NFL. The Bolts also are sixth in the NFL in rushing yards since Shelmon joined the staff in ’02.
Among the Chargers’ accomplishments with Shelmon as coordinator, the Bolts led the NFL in total offense, average yards per play and average yards per pass in 2010 and averaged at least 25 points a game for eight consecutive seasons, a first for any franchise in NFL history. San Diego also made the playoffs five times in Shelmon’s 10 years on the staff. He devised several unique training methods during his coaching career, including a ball-control drill that involves carrying a football attached to a giant bungee cord.
“We changed the culture here,” Shelmon said. “(In 2000), the Chargers were 1-15. We went 8-8 and just missed the playoffs my first year in 2002. From that time on, I’ve seen the team get better and better.
“We’ve done it both ways. I primarily made my name as being a good running coach and developing backs. We were able to be one of the better teams running the ball. Then when Norv came in, we went to the AFC Championship and added more to the passing game, yet we’ve been able to run the ball fairly well. We bridged the two philosophies, I think, quite well. I’m proud of the small part I’ve played in it.”
Shelmon worked hard last offseason to find ways to maximize the talents of Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert. The pair combined for 2,469 yards of offense and 16 touchdowns as Mathews earned second alternate Pro Bowl status in his second season.
“It’s fulfilling as a coach to see players mature not only on the field but as men,” Shelmon said. “Looking at their will, how hard they work, the camaraderie between the coaches and players, that’s what makes coaching pro football unique.”
Shelmon and his wife Nancy have helped pay for the college education of dozens of students from his hometown of Bossier City, La., through a scholarship fund created in 1999 in memory of his mother, Ruby Shelmon. Students who have received aid send their grades to the Shelmons and can get help throughout college if they do well. The fund initially helped two students a year and now serves four annually.“All kids, they just need a little nudge, a little help, a little push,” Shelmon said. “You never know what that little push may do for them. It could get them on the path to where they may become something special.”