Vincent's Status Now Up in the Air

CLEMSON – Clemson head football coach Tommy Bowden is starting to hedge on whether or not starting middle linebacker Cortney Vincent will play in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl following his DUI charge last weekend.

The recent deaths involving three Clemson students in six weeks, where alcohol was a likely contributor, may be the main reason why. Bowden admitted following practice Saturday night that he has spoken with university officials concerning the status of Vincent. However, he would not say what was said or whether or not it was recommended to him that he suspend Vincent.

All indications Thursday were that Vincent was going to play. Bowden's released statement said that he wouldn't deal with any disciplinary actions until Vincent's court case was over in mid January.

He had also told people associated with the football team Vincent was playing.

Some 48 hours later, Bowden is very non-committal as to whether the redshirt junior will play.

"I don't know yet," he said. "I've read in the paper he is."

Bowden was pressed on the issue for several minutes as to why he would all of a sudden have a change of heart on Vincent's status. He maintained as best he could that his comments were taken out of context and misconstrued.

He said that he was talking in terms of Vincent's status with the team overall, not specifically for the New Year's Eve game against No. 22 Auburn.

"I might kick him off once (the court hearing) is done," Bowden said. "I didn't say anything about playing. I might dismiss him in January. Once the legal procedure is gone, I might dismiss him. But nobody asked me about playing."

Former Clemson player Justin Miller had a DUI and he wasn't kicked off the team. Two years ago, current right guard Barry Humphries got a DUI and is obviously still on the team.

It's very unlikely Vincent will be suspended, especially considering this is the first known instance of him being in any sort of trouble.

"I treat them all fair," Bowden said. "I don't treat them the same. I don't have a blanket black-and-white policy."

Wednesday night, Bowden was asked specifically about whether there were any disciplinary problems with the team and he said no, even though he was aware of Vincent's issues some three days earlier.

He was asked Saturday night why he misled the media.

"I don't tell ya'll everything that happens with my team," he said. "Every disciplinary action I take with my team, I surely don't make public."

He was then asked about his statement in Atlanta Thursday when he said the reason Vincent wasn't suspended like Duane Coleman was because Vincent had money in the bank and that Coleman wrote checks that he couldn't cash.

"How much (does he have in the bank)?" Bowden asked about Vincent. "What did he buy for Christmas? Did he buy and XBOX or did he buy a candy bar?"

Since Oct. 28, at least three current Clemson students have died and alcohol may have played a factor in all of them.

On Oct. 28, Emily Yelton was one of seven that died in a beach house fire in North Carolina. The six others attended the University of South Carolina. The blood-alcohol levels in six of the seven victims ranged from .16 to .29.

On Nov. 11, Marc Anthony Cocozzella was thrown from the bed of a pickup truck after his friend, who is accused of driving drunk, ran into two other cars. Cocozzella died two days later.

Then, on the same day Vincent was charged with DUI, Clemson freshman Benjamin Sprague died of alcohol poisoning and had a blood alcohol level of 0.4 percent, more than five times the legal limit for an adult.

Bowden said he didn't know when he would come to a decision on Vincent, but it appears he's hoping the case will not reach trial or hearing status. Such an action would make Vincent's possible suspension a moot point.

He said he's waiting on facts before determining his final verdict.

"I take the offense very seriously. It's not a laughing matter," Bowden said. "I think the facts that I would be interested in from that case would be dismissal or something like that."

NOTES: Senior outside linebacker Tremaine Billie and Nick Watkins did not practice Saturday and their eligibility for the bowl game remains in great peril.

A new name was added to the mix in regard in starting right tackle Christian Capote, who is slated to graduate Thursday. Bowden said Capote didn't practice Saturday because the senior is trying to atone for missed school work.

"I think he's got to make up some work," Bowden said. "I think he's got a little bit of a grace period to do it. I think he told me Tuesday or Monday. I'll probably know most everything (on the three players) by Monday." Top Stories