I would imagine this Thursday night on our radio show; we will be deluged with the same old moans, groans, and Clemson goggles that we have read about the last three weeks.
So, in order to simplify the grieving, and to set those of you straight that have absolutely no idea what you are talking about, I have compiled 20 answers to the questions we all have been asking ourselves the past three weeks. Print this article out, post it on your refrigerator, and move on with your life and your support for Clemson University.
The answers are all based in REALITY. No hocus pocus stuff from either extreme. If you don't agree with me…well…then you are wrong. This is the gospel…now live by it.
1. Is Tommy Bowden's job in jeopardy? It seems silly to even answer the question, but let's get this straight from the get go. Bowden's job is not in jeopardy this year…or for that matter…next year. Too much money to buy him out, the fact that he is in only his 4th year, and the fact that he really loves coaching at Clemson should be enough to quell the thought. If it doesn't, then chew on this. There is not a coach in America that Clemson could realistically get that is better than Bowden is at this point in his career. End of discussion.
2. Will there be turnover on this staff at the end of the year? Yes. Not necessarily because some are not doing a good enough job. Turnover on every staff is inevitable, and several Clemson assistants are being felt out for head coaching jobs at other schools. In addition, some non-coordinators on the Clemson staff will be in line for coordinator jobs at other schools at the end of the year. Change is sometimes good, and in this case, some changes that will be made will be made for the better of both Clemson and the individual coach.
3. What is the deal with the drop off in offensive production? Simply put…the offensive line is not talented or deep enough to allow this offense to excel. To their credit, the o-line plays hard. It is not their fault that Bowden and Stockstill have failed to land better offensive lineman the past three years. Add that to the fact that Tommy West also had trouble landing great offensive lineman, and you can see the problem up close.
4. So, you are saying it is not the play calling that is the problem? That is exactly what I'm saying. Yes, there are times when I scratch my head at a call or two here or there. But folks, if you can't block, you can't do ANYTHING on offense that you want to. If you can't control the line of scrimmage, you are running uphill in everything that you try to do. You name the best play caller in the country, and I guarantee you not one of Clemson's losses would have been reversed had he been calling the plays.
5. Has Clemson been under-utilizing their talent at wide receiver this year? Yes. When it became obvious that Clemson was having a hard time controlling the offensive line of scrimmage after the Virginia game, the staff should have looked for creative ways to get the ball to the best players on the team. Instead, the coaches tried to troubleshoot the problems instead of veering in another direction. This should change now that the Tigers have failed miserably in controlling the line of scrimmage, and I think you will see a different approach starting with the Duke game.
6. The defense has not been as solid as it was early in the year, have teams figured out John Lovett's scheme? No. The Clemson defense has spent an enormous amount of time on the field for most of the year. Add that to the fact that turnovers and poor special teams play have caused the Tiger defense to play on a short field more times than not. The job John Lovett has done is nothing short of miraculous. If the Clemson offense held up even part of their bargain, the results of this defense would be much different.
7. Clemson has one of the best wide receiving corps in the country? False. Don't get me wrong, there is a ton of talent at wide receiver in Tiger Town. The reality is, however, that only Derrick Hamilton is good enough to start at any school in the country. J.J. McKelvey, Kevin Youngblood and Airese Currie are all better than average receivers that many schools would love to have. And, in all honesty, Clemson misses Roscoe Crosby more than we would like to admit. But, to say these guys, as a unit, are top 10 in the country is simply blinded optimism.
8. The offensive coaches are ignoring our talented tight ends? Well, not exactly. The Clemson coaches would love to throw the ball to Ben Hall and Bobby Williamson more often. It would certainly do wonders for the wide receivers that are keyed on all game long. But, because of the offensive line problems, the tight ends have been relegated to being 6th offensive lineman staying at the line of scrimmage to pass block. If better protection were happening, the tight ends would get their touches. But, the blocking is bad, and the coaches are doing the right thing keeping the tight end in to block. What other choice do the coaches have?
9. Is Brad Scott an idiot? Brad Scott is a good coach, an excellent recruiter, and a good fit at Clemson. He is baring the brunt of criticism for the struggles that all Clemson fans feel. Part of that is because he was a "failure" at South Carolina. That, in itself, is a myth to some degree. And, I would imagine that Brad can take the punishment as good as anybody on the staff. I, personally, would hate to see Scott not continue at Clemson after this year. Regardless, he is far from being the idiot some portray him as.
10. Is recruiting spinning out of control right now? There is some truth to this. Jarrod Britt has stung the Tiger recruiting faithful with his de-commit. Other prospects may be wavering based on the struggles of this team and the questions about the direction of the program. However, recruiting is like this every year. Early commits de-commit and kids that have no interest in you right now end up signing on the dotted line. Is it panic time yet on the recruiting front? No way. Would Clemson love to have Jarrod Britt? Yes, but it is not going to happen. Move on.
11. Has USC passed Clemson? There is little question that Brad Scott and Lou Holtz together have elevated the Gamecocks to levels that most of us would have never dreamed. The Gamecocks are a good football team that is not going to drop off big any time soon. The Gamecocks have done everything to pass Clemson except beat them more times than they have lost. If Holtz and the Gamecocks beat Clemson in November and tie the series with Clemson during the Bowden/Holtz era, then the talk can begin that the Gamecocks have passed Clemson. However, if Clemson wins, the Tigers will remain planted as the best football program in the state of South Carolina.
12. Is the ACC a good football conference? Anybody who says no is crazy. Florida State is good…even in a bad year for them. NC State and Maryland have great coaches that have their programs sky high. Wake Forest, Virginia and Georgia Tech are as solid as any middle of the pack teams in the other conferences. North Carolina has the facilities to be great. So, yes, the ACC plays pretty darn good football. Don't be embarrassed about it, but don't argue that it is on level footing with the SEC.
13. Are facilities the reason Clemson is 4-4? Don't be silly. Facilities have about as much to do with winning a football game as what color jerseys you wear. Just ask Wake Forest if you can win games without adequate facilities. Facilities are a major concern during recruiting time and for filling the coffers at IPTAY meetings. Winning games on Saturdays has very little to do with a Heritage Center.
14. Does Clemson need to upgrade its football facilities? Absolutely. The MTV generation of prospects demand to be dazzled, and Death Valley does not dazzle the way it looked 3 years ago. Clemson is taking the necessary steps to bring the facilities up to par with other schools. South Carolina will do the same in the next few years. It is the craze of the new millennium.
15. Does Tommy Bowden use facility concerns as an excuse? I have yet to read one quote or hear one statement from Bowden that blames his success or failure on facilities. Does he say that we need better facilities? Yes, and we do. Does he say the reason NC State plastered us is because we don't have a Heritage Center? Not that I have heard. People love shoving words into other folks mouths, and Bowden is victim in this instance. He pushes for new facilities because we need them, yet he gets slammed for pushing them because folks think he is making excuses for losses. Kind of a damned if he does, damned if he don't thing, don't you think?
16. Are the crowds at Death Valley disappointing? Yes. While the average attendance is really on par with what was coming to Death Valley in the 80's, it still would be nice to see sell out games. But, because ACC teams travel about as well as MAC teams, Clemson is relegated to selling almost every ticket that is occupied at the stadium. The SEC does not share that problem. There still is no reason why Clemson does not promote the family atmosphere on Game Day better, but I am not a marketing major. There is an answer, and maybe one day we will find it.
17. Should Pass Outs Come Back? You better believe it. Clemson has a tradition of family atmosphere and pass outs. Families need the pass outs to take care of little ones. Changing diapers, feeding, and allowing naps by issuing pass outs are all great ways to get families to Death Valley. In addition, drinkers need pass outs to get their fill OUTSIDE the stadium. There is nothing politically correct about saying pass outs are good for minimizing drinking in the stadium. But, it is. Allowing the heavy drinkers to get their booze outside the stadium is much better than the alternative. Ever seen Williams Brice Stadium after the fans have left? It is littered with liquor bottles. Clemson will look the same if pass outs are not reinstated. It is a sad reality.
18. Is Charlie Whitehurst better than Willie Simmons? No, not yet. And quit screaming for Whitehurst every time Willie throws an incomplete pass. I love Charlie and his future at Clemson is as bright as any Clemson quarterback that I can remember. But, for the love of Pete, lay off the "bring the back up in" mentality that has pervaded Clemson for years and years. The coaches will play the best player…period. By the end of the year, Charlie may be starting. Not because you screamed for him, but because he became a better quarterback than Willie. End of story.
19. Where is the love? Win or lose, I am a Clemson fan. And, to be honest, I wonder if it is worth it sometimes. But, I can't wake up tomorrow and not be a fan. I bleed it. Some of you do…some of you don't. Clemson may not win another game for 15 years, but I will still love them and hope that the next game will be the turning point. We should all appreciate what we have, sometimes, instead of bemoaning what we do not have. That does not mean we should be happy as the Leave it to Beaver family. But we don't have to be as pissy as Al Bundy either.
20. Is the program headed in the right direction? The one question I don't have an answer for. That judgment cannot be made right now, however. The season must pass and in January we can have this discussion. The answer may be that it is not going in the right direction. We may finish 6-6 with a 2nd straight loss to USC and be forced to play in the Continental Tire Bowl. But, we may be sitting on a 9-4 record and a bowl win in January. Would that change your perception? It would change mine.
There you have it. It is off my chest. Now, I don't need to spend the entire Thursday night on WCCP setting you straight. Go Tigers.
Tune into the College Football Weekend Preview on Thursday night from 8-10 pm immediately following Tiger Calls with Tommy Bowden on WCCP 104.9 FM in the upstate. Or, listen live via the web at www.wccpfm.com.
Scott can also be reached at email@example.com.
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