Recruiting, Herring, and Other Tidbits

As January rolls to an end, smorgasbords of topics have littered the Tiger landscape. In order to editorialize on all the hot topics while they are still relevant, here is a lighting quick review of each. And, keep in mind, my viewpoints, as usual, are all correct!

Recruiting Ignor-bliss
I made a profound, life-changing pledge almost 365 days ago. After following college football recruiting for almost 10 years, I was in the middle of biting my nails waiting for Roscoe Crosby's news conference from Union. The good news came, I jumped up and down, and then I quickly came back down to earth similar to a drug addict. While Clemson had just completed arguably their best recruiting class ever, and certainly their best recruiting class since the mid 80's, I still fretted over the few that got away. Even in the best of times, I found myself unsatisfied.

It was at that point, a point that should have been a supreme high, that I realized I am wishing for something that will never be. You can NEVER be happy following football recruiting.

So, on Singing Day 2001, I pledged to stop following recruiting.

Now, those that continue to follow it are admirable for their steadfast work. Our own Roy Philpott does a great job keeping everybody up to date. Everybody, that is, except me.

I cannot tell you how good it feels to not have any vested emotional interest in this years recruiting class. From a distance, it seems to be going pretty well and it seems most feel USC is doing outstanding. Good for us…good for them. I know recruiting is the lifeblood of a football program, but following it offers up too much unneeded stress…brainpower that could be used for better things.

So, with great amusement, I got an email this week from a friend that was going bonkers over a potential recruit. His email stated, "Can you believe what is happening with Randy Jackson? Unbelievable. I wonder who at Clemson was recruiting this kid because they screwed up big time".

My honest reply simply stated, "Who the hell is Randy Jackson?"

Our Good Friend, Reggie Herring
Woody White wrote an article for the Greenville News this week stating that Reggie Herring bailed out of Clemson because he was tired of trying to "design a defense to fit Clemson's offense". White went on to insinuate that Herring was frustrated with the fact that Clemson's high-risk offense made it almost impossible to field a quality defense.

Now, before we jump to conclusions, it should be noted that Herring was not quoted in the article as saying the above statements…they were just insinuated by White. But, for a moment, let's pretend that Herring does feel that way.

The job of the defense, and ultimately the defensive coordinator, is to minimize the amount of points a team scores against you. If the defense takes the field with 80 yards behind them, they should not give up touchdowns on a consistent basis. Furthermore, if the ball is turned over and the defense takes the field with only 30 yards behind them, the best you can honestly hope for is that the defense could hold the opposing offense to a field goal. The Clemson defense could do neither under Herring the last 2 years.

Clemson does have a high-risk offense, that at times turns the ball over on three and outs quicker than you can lose money on the lottery. But this offense also put up 31 points a game, something that most defensive coordinators around the country would kill to have.

The bottom line is that Clemson's defensive problems are due to the inabilities of the defense itself…not the offense. If Herring believes differently, then he is less of a man, and competitor, than I thought.

2002 Schedule
Ok, so the days of poking fun at Clemson's football schedule are over in dramatic fashion. The 2002 schedule promises to be in the Top 20 of most difficult schedules when the season starts in August. A quick look at the schedule points to a pretty good set up for the Tigers.

Nobody likes to open the season with a Top 25 team, but that is the task that faces the Tigers August 31 in Athens against the Georgia Bulldogs. The good news is that it is Georgia's first game as well. Maybe a slight advantage for Clemson falls to the fact that the offense will have a slightly new look under the direction of Willie Simmons and/or Charlie Whitehurst. And defensively Clemson will be a question mark to Georgia because of the new defensive coordinator and/or defensive alignment and schemes.

The next 3 games are in Death Valley against Louisiana Tech, Georgia Tech, and Ball State…all winnable games. Next, an open date falls earlier in the season this year leading up to a Thursday night Bowden Bowl in Tallahassee. Another tough road game in Charlottesville follows before a two game home stretch over much improved Wake Forest and NC State. The Tigers head up Tobacco road for road games at Duke and at North Carolina before heading home to face defending ACC champion Maryland and South Carolina.

All in all, the schedule looks balanced with home and road games spread out. In addition, the weaker teams are also spread out throughout the season, thus eliminating any brutal stretches of games. 8 bowl teams from 2001 litter the schedule, making it one of the most challenging, and possibly rewarding, schedules in recent memory. The 100th meeting between Clemson and USC also provides plenty of fire to keep these cold winter days warm. Top Stories