But I just can't figure out why the negative hoopla surrounds Clemson playing Wofford next year in football.
Yes, I know. Clemson fans long for the competitive fire that burns when you have the challenge of playing a great football team.
Yes, I know. Gamecock fans rib you weekly about how pitiful the ACC is in football and how they would win at least 9 games a year if they had an ACC schedule.
Yes, I know. Many Clemson fans don't like to trek over to Death Valley on hot September days to see their Tigers beat up on little schools.
Yes, I know. There is absolutely nothing that could be gained from beating up on poor old Wofford.
Yes, I know. The wonderful world of the Bowl Championship Series decrees that one must play a difficult schedule to warrant its place in the coveted National Title game.
Yes, I know. You have told me a thousand times.
Allow me, for a moment, to enlighten you on the reality of the situation.
My blood pumps as much as the next guy at the thought of playing somebody like the Michigan Wolverines in the Big House. But, at what cost? Say Clemson goes to Ann Arbor and loses? One loss with the prospect of still having to play Georgia Tech and FSU essentially eliminates you from the National Championship race. Beating Michigan guarantees you nothing. You still have to go out and play the next 10 weeks without a loss. If you somehow received a bye by beating a good team, I'm all for it. But, you don't. Give me a guaranteed win vs. Wofford and hold the excitement for later in the year vs. the Noles and Jackets.
Alright, so Gamecocks fans get under your skin because they rag you about Clemson's schedule. Big deal. Are Gamecock fans right to say their schedule is tougher than Clemson? Absolutely. But, last time I checked Clemson had beaten the dreaded Cocks four times in a row and lead the all time series so much it would take 30 years of Gamecock wins in a row to catch up. 16-14….nuff said.
September is hot as….well you know. Staying at home is the easy thing to do. Not me. I wait all winter, spring, and summer for September to finally arrive. They could play the game in 150 degree weather and I'd still come. Why? Because I love it. So do most of you. And for those that don't anticipate and love it enough to spend 3 hours in the sun, let them stay home and watch their grass grow. I'm going to be there. Hell, I even go see the Tigers play themselves in the Spring Game. I don't go to see Wofford, FSU, or Georgia Tech. I go to see my Tigers.
There is plenty to gain from playing Wofford. First, how about a win? Needed a few more of those back in 1998, remember? But, beyond that, Wofford is a state school and they will take the kind of paycheck home that makes their budget work. And, most importantly, Clemson should win by enough to get some playing time to the youngsters on the squad. We might see Charlie Whitehurst complete his first pass. The point is, Clemson does gain something from the game….in addition to helping out a state school.
The BCS thing seems to be the bone of most of the contention. Why? Clemson moved all the way up to number 4 in the polls last year before losing to Georgia Tech. In doing so, the Tigers only beat 2 teams that would eventually go to a bowl (Virginia and NC State). If Clemson would have somehow defeated the Jackets and the Noles, the Tigers would have been playing Oklahoma for the National Championship. The BCS does factor in strength of schedule, which Wofford certainly hurts in Clemson's case. But until the BCS factors strength of schedule being more important than winning every game you play, what is the point of playing better teams? Clemson is not Florida State, talent wise. So why pretend to be?
I really understand why people despise Clemson playing a Division 1-AA team. But Clemson was dealt a raw deal when Tulane backed out this year. Wofford is a good solution to that problem. Clemson should slowly upgrade its schedule as they slowly upgrade their talent. Five years from now, we all hope we are on a level playing field with the Florida State's of the world. At that point, we SHOULD have the mentality to play any team that is willing to strap it on against us.
But folks, we are nowhere near that point right now. And, in all honesty, we are not contenders for the National Championship in 2001 anyway. If Clemson runs the table next year we will be playing for the National Championship. But Clemson is not going to run the table. Wofford is a quick fix to our problem. A quick fix that should not cause such a negative uproar.
You can reach Scott Rhymer at firstname.lastname@example.org.