Spent some on and off-air time recently with Jack Leggett.
The Clemson baseball coach was relaxed, smiling, and exuding a healthy dose of holiday spirit when I interviewed him during our fundraiser for the Guardian Ad Litem program a week or so ago.
On the eve of his winter camp Leggett chatted about the holidays, the rebuilding of his new house and - of course - the upcoming baseball season. The influx of talented, younger players into his roster has forged the type of competition in practice that, insiders say, is reminiscent of the way things were in the early half of this decade.
Any coach will tell you that the more competition for positions, the better the team. And Leggett, along with others I've spoken with dating back to the beginning of fall practice, tell me the difference is more than noticeable with this current group. It practically jumps off the scorebook at you.
One other bit of intrigue I picked up on during the interview.
As relaxed as Leggett was, the intensity was raging in his eyes. Just the mention of missing the NCAA Tournament last season was enough to set him squirming in his seat.
Watching from the sidelines for the first time in 21 years didn't sit will with Clemson fans. But you can rest assured it angered the coach even more.
And while he still maintains the strong finish in 2008 and the high RPI should have been enough to get the Tigers in the field of 64, Leggett realizes the way to ensure Clemson isn't left out again is simple:
Do what they've always done. Win so many games that the only issues surround hosting a Regional and Super Regional.
Based on the early returns, I wouldn't bet against it.
NOTES FROM BEYOND
Dabo Swinney knew he wouldn't command the type of contract dollars that Tommy Bowden was pulling in. But his compensation package - just under a million per, with incentives - could have been better. But Swinney chose to take less money himself and put more toward his assistants. A smart, unselfish move that could pay big dividends, especially if Clemson finds itself in a bidding war with LSU over defensive coordinator John Chavis.
* Oliver Purnell's basketball team finally enters both polls at No. 25, but is it just a temporary ranking? Clemson opens ACC play at Miami this weekend, and games between these teams have been major struggles since the Hurricanes joined the conference.
* In case you haven't noticed - and judging by the attendance you haven't - Clemson's women's basketball team has won six straight and sit at 8-2 after the season's first 10 games. It's the best start for the Lady Tigers since the 2003-04 season, the next-to-last for Jim Davis on the Clemson bench.
* Finally, a bit of self-promotion. If you haven't done so yet, visit my new website - DanScottShow.com. Sign the guestbook and give me feedback on the site. Current and classic interviews are available, as well as play-by-play clips, links to other great sites (like CUTigers.com), photos and my blog. Hope you'll make it part of your regular daily traffic pattern.
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