Deal With It

Why is Clemson considered a "football school?" I guess if you leave it to the reporters who seem to think they know everything about every football program in the country, you won't get much of an answer.

After all, it is their job to help sell newspapers isn't it?

You bet it is.

And if you don't believe me, look no further than today's edition of the Charlotte Observer in an article by our good friend Mr. Gregg Doyel.

Angry Gregg, we'll call him for now.

If you haven't had the chance to read about the "myth that is Clemson football," you may want to acquaint yourself with this fine piece of work by clicking here.

Mr. Doyel certainly makes some strong points in his essay. Yes, the Tigers didn't climb to the top of the ACC in the 1990's and yes the football program struggled at times under the direction of former coaches Ken Hatfield and Tommy West.

And yes, the Clemson basketball program has seen better days, even though Rick Barnes did help lead a brief resurgence when the Tigers put up 3 consecutive NCAA tournament berths from 1996-1998.

Consequently, I'd like to take this moment and applaud the efforts of this fine reporter to help get the facts out there in the eyes of the public. Unfortunately, those statements above are where the facts pretty much come to an end.

I love articles like Mr. Doyel's, because in the grand scheme of things, little blurbs like this end up to be nothing more than locker room material for Coach Bowden and the rest of his staff.

A football school? I tell you why Clemson is a football school.

You see, Clemson has won more Atlantic Coast Conference Championships than any other school- 13 to be exact.

Following the 1981 National Championship season, Clemson was able to defeat the likes of Oklahoma, Penn State, Stanford, West Virginia, and Illinois in consecutive bowl appearances.

More importantly the Tigers have established themselves as a dominant force over the likes of some of their biggest rivals. Those teams would include South Carolina (59-39-4), North Carolina (31-18-1), N.C. State (44-25-1), and yes even Wake Forest (52-14-1) and Duke (the Blue Devils used to actually be a decent team mind you).

Even the great John Heisman coached at Clemson. Heisman, one of the true pioneers of the game of football, began a 3-year stint with the Tigers in 1900 and complied an impressive 19-3-2 record during his tenure here.

The fact is, we could go through the record books all day long and never get to what really makes Clemson a "football school." Sure, the Tigers have played football for over 100 years, won numerous ACC and Southern Conference titles, a national title, and have the most rabid fan base of any school I've ever been associated with, but that still doesn't completely explain why Clemson is a "football school."

Clemson is a "football school" because the largest city in the state of South Carolina, 6 or 7 days out of the year, is in fact, the town of Clemson. That's 81,000 people to you folks who have never made the trip to Death Valley.

Clemson is a "football school" because of the storied traditions that revolve around it's football program. Running down the Hill, the sound of Tiger Rag, Rubbing the Rock, and the Tiger Paw itself (which is trademarked by the way) are just some of the small things that separate this land grant institution from the Duke's and the North Carolina's of the world.

Clemson is not a "football school" because of ACC Championships or because of their 1981 National Championship, or their dominance over archrival South Carolina. Clemson is a "football school" because the fans actually give a damn.

And you know what? That's why recruits want to come here. That's why some of the biggest names in coaching want to come here- because the fans care so much about it.

Don't believe me? Contact your nearest IPTAY representative and ask them how much money was donated to the athletic department last year. How about twenty million dollars, does that number ring a bell?

And by the way, I'll take Frank Howard's winning percentage over a 29-year period any day over the joke that has become of George O'Leary, the great recruiter in Mack Brown, and all the other names you most likely just wrote down to stick into an article. None of them even come close to the impact that Frank Howard had on Clemson football.

"You'd think Clemson fans would be used to it by now," you said in reference to the fact the Tigers have finished .500 or worse 18 times in the past 49 years.

Nope, the only thing Clemson fans are used to is listening to big mouth reporters jump on the bandwagon when things get tough.

And yeah, things may be tough right now, but what goes around comes around. I'll take my chances with Tommy Bowden, especially compared to any of the schools you likely cover on a week-to-week basis, or any other school in the ACC for that matter.

In the grand scheme of things, you have to give it to my man Angry Gregg. His article worked, and it worked well. I mean, why else would you go out and bad mouth Clemson in every way possible in one of the largest cities in ACC?

Was it your duty as a journalist to prove your worth in the eyes of the Wolfpack faithful there in Raleigh? Perhaps, but we'll never really know for sure. I'll go ahead and jump out on a limb and say that we'll never really care either.

In fact, the only thing I know, and the only thing that a lot of people around these parts know, is that Clemson is a football school, and it doesn't matter if we are 11-0 or 0-11, our fans stand behind this football program like no other.

Live it, learn it, love it, but most importantly, deal with it.

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