Dan Scott's Inbox

Letters. We get letters. We get lots and lots of letters... With apologies to David Letterman, presented for your amusement is the first addition of reader mail. No surprise that many of you were, shall we say, ticked at Clemson's loss to Maryland a week ago. And so you vented - early and often.

Following is a sample of the email I received following my MMQB article, and my response to each.

Dan,
The only thing you left out of your story on CUTigers.com is that Tommy Bowden's salary keeps going up and up and up. Yet the same old thing keeps happening under him - even in a year where they have as much, if not more talent than any team on their schedule.

Maryland lost to Middle Tenn State and looked terrible. The scary part is that Maryland didn''t play well Saturday at Clemson and still won. They almost set a new world record for false starts during one game. They repeatedly shot themselves in the foot. But they found a way to win on the road. Clemson found a way to lose at home. No one disputes that Clemson will most likely turn it around. They usually do - but it is never enough because they always play so bad early in the year.

Bowden has this down to a science now. Go into the season with strong expectations - lay and egg or two - usually losing to a team that he shouldn't lose to - then turn it around reasonably well and make a strong push. It is virtually the same formula every year. As I said, the only constant is that Tommy Bowden keeps cashing in with increased cash in the pocket.
Best Wishes, Barry

Barry,
In fairness to Bowden on the compensation issue, his salary stayed the same from the time he signed the first new deal at the end of the 2000 season (when Alabama came calling), and his signing of the contract extension last December. The deal he signed after The Finish in 2003 didn't raise his salary at all. It just extended the deal and inserted the buyout. As for your other points, they're hard to argue against. We've seen the exact pattern you've described more than once in Bowden's nine-plus years here, and that predictability has added to the disappointment you and many others are feeling. Will this version be any different? In my opinion, only if they run the table and make it to the ACC Championship game.

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Dan,
In response to your article on CUTigers.com...

Am I willing to stick through the tough times? Heck yeah I am and I will be loud and proud at every home this year even if my season tickets are 4 rows from the top of the Upper Deck.

Now, convincing the other 20% fans that take my stance is not that hard. It is the other 80% that hate where the program is at right now, unhappy with the coaching, whatever their beef is with the football team. That is where the improvement is needed. If the Valley isn't rocking against GT then it could be another tight ball game.

Dan, only with proper provocative media reports such as yours will we gain back some of the 80% we need.

Would I like to see Tommy Bowden fired today? Yeah, I'd love to see Dabo get his chance for these next 7-9 games. What happened the last time Clemson made a bold move such as this? Danny Ford coaches the Gator Bowl.

One thing is for sure, regardless of who the coach is I will be LOUD AND PROUD on Saturdays in Valley. I'm not going to cancel my road trip to UVA either. I think the fans need to be called out for booing our team, during and after the game. I am still steaming over that more than I am the game itself, it was a classless move by those left in the stadium at that time. I think simply leaving the game early sent the message loud and clear to the team.

Joel

Joel,
You mean some fans want Bowden fired? I hadn't heard that...LOL. But seriously, your pledge of support for the program regardless of the circumstances is admirable. I applaud you for it. The biggest question facing the athletic department, I believe, is the fan base. And more succinctly, your wallets. Part of the bill of goods sold to the fans as part of the seat equity program was the idea that this was the year. The enthusiasm for the 2008 season helped fuel the record season ticket sales, in spite of the increase in IPTAY dues. Now, with what has transpired through the first five weeks of the season, the administration types have to be nervous. If this season finishes as the disappointment it currently is, how difficult will it be for IPTAY to match what it took in this season? After 10 years, will fans buy more of the same? If I've said it once on my show, I've said it a thousand times: Lack of financial support will get a coach fired more quickly than wins and losses. Especially at this level. So there's more on the line here, for everyone, than just a trip to the title game.

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Dan,
I was very disappointed in the loss Saturday, but I was very pleased with the intensity of our players, compared with the first 4 games. I have been a Tommy Bowden supporter, but it wouldn't upset me if they let him go or kept him. Having said all of that, and in response to your question at the end of your article and show, my family and I will be at the Georgia Tech game and the remaining games. We love the orange, the purple, the tiger paw, and Clemson football. I am not in mourning and I am not standing on a ledge, I am moving on to planning my next tailgate, driving the 3+ hours and showing up for the GT game. Go Tigers!

Mark

Mark,
I think one part of your email is very telling. You say you wouldn't be upset if they let Bowden go, or if they kept him. That's very, very close to apathy. And when fans start feeling that way, many of them don't share the same enthusiasm you apparently still do. It was explained to me in another note this week this way: A marriage isn't over when a partner cheats. It isn't over when husband and wife constantly argue. A marriage is over when one or both partners simply quit caring. Coaches and fans are in a marriage, of sorts. What happens if enough fans quit caring? I think some of you have seen that happen here before.

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Dan,
In response to your question regarding fans being over the loss to Maryland, I'm not over it. I'm not unrealistic with my expectations. I don't expect to be undefeated or to win the ACC every year. I have no problem losing a game. I do have a problem with HOW we have lost.

We were completely unprepared against Alabama. I do concede that Alabama is a lot better than ANY of us thought, but I expected to at least not look like a deer in headlights. We handled Maryland in the first half and then failed to make 1 single adjustment in the second half. Our offense comes off the field hanging their heads and sitting on the bench instead of going over to the defense and telling them to get the ball back because we can win it.

I don't see any heart, mainly from the coaching staff. That's the reason I can't get over that loss. It's like the coaches don't care. They see that the other team adjusts to us and they don't do anything? It's like the players don't care. They come up short on 4th and inches in the 4th quarter when you have a chance to win the game and they walk off the field with your tail between your legs and go sit on the bench and pout?

I've pulled for Clemson all my life and I bleed orange and it makes me sick to my stomach to watch the team I love lose the way that we have lost. I'll always be there, win or lose, but I just wish that our coaches and players had some of the heart that we fans have for Clemson.

DV

DV,
I talked to a number of different people this week, some of which who were on the sideline and/or in the locker room for the Maryland game. And even from them the reports vary. I've been told, as was reported on television, that Bowden's halftime speech was the most emotional anyone has ever heard from the coach. In the second half, I've been told that there was much arguing on the sidelines - between players and coaches, as well as coaches among themselves. After witnessing these things, I was told by the individual that - in his opinion - Bowden had lost the team. I suppose we'll find out more in the next two games. This season is either going to take an upswing, or is going to unravel, by the completion of the Georgia Tech game on Oct. 18. I may be wrong, but I just don't sense there's a middle ground anymore.


Dan Scott is host of the sports talk show Cruise Control on the flagship station for Clemson sports 104.9 FM The Drive weekdays from 9 AM to 12 PM. You can send Dan a story idea or ask Dan a question for his new Inbox feature coming up on CUTigers.com at writerdan33@aol.com.

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