As I left Death Valley that day there was a funk in the air. The eyes of Tiger fans as they packed their tailgating supplies back into their cars spoke volumes of emotions that this man can't put into words in one article. The Funk never left Clemson in 1998. The Tigers went on to finish 3-8 with the only wins coming against Furman, Maryland, and South Carolina…all terrible football teams.
Snap back out of that nightmare and fast-forward to February 15, 2001. Larry Shyatt's Tigers travel up to Raleigh to face the North Carolina State Wolfpack. There is optimism, you see. The Tigers defeated State back in January at Littlejohn and there is hope the Tigers can snap a 7 game losing streak.
Final score. State 85. Clemson 51. That is a 34-point rolling for the mathematically challenged. And, to make matters worse, it the third time in the last ten games that the Tigers have been beaten by more than 28 points.
That Funk in the air from Tommy West's final year in Clemson has returned.
This article is not about the right or wrong of firing Larry Shyatt. That debate has been raging since early this year across Internet message boards and talk radio. The argument for and against is tired. There is no complete right, or wrong, when you look at firing Coach Shyatt.
Allow me, for a moment, to enlighten you on the reality of the situation.
There are a million reasons to keep Shyatt around for another year. Problem is, there are also a million reasons to send him packing. Bobby Robinson, Clemson's Athletic Director, is really in a win-win situation that could also be viewed as a lose-lose situation.
The politically correct thing to do is to listen to the supporters of Shyatt and give him another year to turn the ship around. Shyatt seems to have a genuine love for Clemson University and a tremendous drive to see things turn around.
The common sense thing to do is to cut your losses and commence a search for a head basketball coach with name recognition and respect (see South Carolina Football's hiring of Lou Holtz in 1998).
What would I do? Don't know. I'm glad it is not up to me. But Bobby Robinson is a smart guy with a pretty good track record despite his perception by Clemson's vocal majority who rue his very existence in Clemson.
But, I can tell you this. That funk that hung around Tommy West in his final months in Clemson is back. You can see it, feel it, and smell it.
If Larry Shyatt survives and is granted another year as head of the Clemson Basketball Experience, many will call it "the right thing to do".
But, my hunch tells me that The Funk is going to win out. You see, The Funk rarely loses. It makes its living by preying on good guys that love Clemson University but don't win very many games. Just ask Tommy West.
I'll take The Funk minus the 3 ½ .
You can reach Scott Rhymer at firstname.lastname@example.org.