Jim Clausen

Jim Clausen is trying to stay out of the spotlight.

He would prefer people write about son Rick Clausen, a senior quarterback at Tennessee, or son Jimmy Clausen, a highly touted junior quarterback in California.

But Jim Clausen created a stir recently when he was quoted by the State in Columbia, S.C., as saying Jimmy had narrowed his choices to about eight schools - three from the SEC -- and Tennessee wasn't one of them.

After Rick Clausen was named the starter at Tennessee, Jim Clausen told a Baton Rouge reporter that Tennessee was in the mix of about six schools.

The inference some made was that Jimmy Clausen's interest in Tennessee depended on Rick Clausen's playing time, that Jim was dangling his younger son to get playing time for his middle son.

That upset Jim Clausen.

``We know Tennessee,'' Clausen said via a telephone interview from California. ``We're comfortable with Tennessee. It (Jimmy's interest in UT) has nothing to do with Rick's playing time.''

Clausen wanted to remind UT fans that he not only has sent two sons to Tennessee but a daughter.

``These past six years have been a dream come true for the Clausen family,'' Jim Clausen said. ``Never in our wildest imagination did we feel we'd be a part of the Vol family. I sent three kids there. What more precious thing do you have than your kids?''

The State quoted Jim Clausen as saying Jimmy had narrowed his list of schools to, among others, South Carolina, Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame, Southern Cal, Michigan, Oklahoma and Michigan State. Clausen was asked if he'd failed to mention to The State that Tennessee was on son Jimmy's college list.

``If I didn't mention Tennessee, it was by mistake,'' Clausen said. ``If I did, he (writer) didn't put it in. We (the writer and Jim Clausen) have discussed Tennessee before and I've told him I'm comfortable with Tennessee.''

Jim Clausen said his son Jimmy along with junior teammates Mark Tyler (son of former NFL running back Wendell Tyler) and Clay Mathews (son of former Cleveland Browns linebacker) and wide receiver Sean Wiser will make unofficial visits to see the Vols play Georgia.

``I don't know the best place for Jimmy,'' Jim Clausen said. ``I've got a kid that's 17 who wants to be the best high school quarterback he can be. He's 3-0 and wants to win a state championship. He's not real comfortable with all the publicity.

``But what we've learned is that Jimmy is the best of all three. He needs to go to a place that develops quarterbacks for the next level. This is Tennessee. It's Steve Spurrier. It's Jeff Tedford at Cal. It's Southern Cal. It's Charlie Weis at Notre Dame.''

Jim Clausen said his older sons are likely to have more of an influence on Jimmy Clausen's future college than the father.

``It's not going to come down to `Daddy wants this,''' Jim Clausen said. ``Jimmy is a bright, intelligent young man with two older brothers who have been through the process. He's got to go where he's comfortable as a student and as an athlete because there are no guarantees (about playing time).

``I don't want to be the story. I don't want to be the Little League dad. My kids have gotten an opportunity because of what they have done in the classroom and on the field. I don't want to be involved (in Jimmy's decision).''

Jim Clausen admitted he was upset at Tennessee coaches two years ago because he felt they didn't work hard enough to get Casey into the Senior Bowl.

``That's old news,'' he said. ``Was Casey the greatest quarterback in the history of Tennessee? Hell no. He had flaws with his (lack of) mobility and arm. All he did was compete and win.''

Jim Clausen said he was not upset about the way son Rick was handled as the Vols went back and forth trying to decide on a quarterback.

``I trust Phillip (Fulmer, UT's coach),'' Clausen said. ``Rick wants to be a part of the team. All this stuff is Disneyland. This kid is overachieving.

``The only thing I ever said to Phillip was, `You do what's best for the program and we'll be fine.' Rick is my son. I love Rick. I know his strengths and his weaknesses. He's accomplished probably more as a person than an athlete. Hey, if they're good enough to play, they'll play. If not, they need to get better.''

Jim Clausen said he was pleased with what his oldest son, Casey, did at UT and what UT did for Casey.

``I sent them a goofy 18-year-old kid and got back a college graduate and a man who can think for himself and represent his family and his school,'' Jim Clausen said.

``They can't all be Peyton Manning. There's only one Peyton Manning. He's the best of the best.''


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