The Silence is Broken

CLEMSON – A week after Clemson football coach Tommy Bowden issued a direct order prohibiting anyone associated with the team from talking to the media about not going to a bowl game, offensive coordinator Mike O'Cain became the first member of the coaching staff to speak on that subject and more, and he did so in an exclusive one-on-one interview Monday afternoon in his office with CUTigers.com. <BR>

Not only did O'Cain discuss the fight with South Carolina, but he talked about his future at Clemson and the current situation at East Carolina, where he has been rumored to be a coaching candidate. He also offered his comments on whether or not cornerback Justin Miller will be playing on Sunday's next year and what his thoughts are while looking back at a disappointing season.

It was a week ago Monday when Clemson athletics director Terry Don Phillips informed the entire football team that it wasn't going to partake in a postseason bowl game as punishment for the ugly brawl that had taken place just two days before against South Carolina.

Now that he's had time to digest the situation and think about it rationally, O'Cain understands why the decision by the administration was made and thinks people should quit complaining about it.

"People had to make decisions," he said one hour before the team was scheduled to have its final meeting of the year. "We (the team) don't have a leg to stand on. It was an embarrassment to the school and to the team. It's not like you can say this, this and this. There really is no defense for what happened. It never should have happened.

"How I feel is irrelevant. It wasn't our decision to make. Nothing is going to change. I think the team deserved to go to a bowl if the fight had not taken place. But instead of trying to dwell whether it was right or wrong, hopefully they've learned a valuable lesson as players and you just move on. Everybody should just move on."

"We (the team) don't have a leg to stand on. It was an embarrassment to the school and to the team. It's not like you can say this, this and this. There really is no defense for what happened. It never should have happened," said O'Cain.
As rewarding as it was for the Tigers and O'Cain to become bowl eligible after starting 1-4, it was equally as disappointing to finish the season 6-5 after starting it ranked No. 16 in the country.

"I think that when you look back, I've never been through anything like this season," he said. "It was a struggle offensively all year long. From a different standpoint, I think we gained tremendous experience. As much as a struggle as it was, you feel like you're coming back next season with experience at every position except at center and tight end.

"Of course, wide receiver is the biggest question mark. When you look at Airese (Currie's) numbers compared to everybody else that kind of gives you an indication of where we were offensively. There just wasn't a whole lot of production."

O'Cain said one of his bigger disappointments from this season came from wide receiver Chansi Stuckey, who really only performed in two games – the first and the last.

But O'Cain doesn't put the blame on the player.

"He was the one guy we said coming into the season that he could have a chance to make a big impact," he said. "But we just couldn't seem to find ways to get him the ball."

On the other side of the ball, the biggest question is whether or not Miller will forego his senior season and turn pro. And while O'Cain said he hasn't spoken to him personally, he believes Clemson has seen the last of Miller.

"I've seen so many players in his situation and almost every time they go pro," O'Cain said. "I hope he stays his last year, but I don't think he will."

Of course, next year's plans are all based on the assumption that he will return as a coach of the Tigers. His name has been bantered about in several newspapers in North and South Carolina about his potential candidacy for the East Carolina job.

"I haven't spoken to anybody," he said. "That's all I can say about it because I don't know anything."

But even if O'Cain does return, there are no guarantees all of the other assistants will be back next season.

"I have no reason to think otherwise that everybody will be coming back," he said. "But you know this is a crazy business. There's been no indication to us. Tommy hasn't said anything. But to be honest, we're really the last ones to know."

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