CLEMSON - A pair of decisions made in the last 24 hours impacting Saturday's Clemson-South Carolina game in Columbia met with the approval of Tigers' head coach Tommy Bowden.
The first piece of news surfaced early Tuesday evening when it was announced that athletic directors Terry Don Phillips of Clemson and Eric Hyman of USC had decided to have their respective football teams meet on the Williams-Brice Stadium playing surface and shake hands Saturday before kickoff. The gesture is intended to put a final chapter on the ugly brawl in last year's game, a fight which resulted in a number of suspensions for both teams and kept each from competing in a bowl game.
The other piece of news touched off joyous celebrations among the fan bases of both schools. After initially being relegated to pay-per-view status, Saturday's 7 p.m. kickoff will be shown live on ESPN2 in the state of South Carolina.
It will be available on ESPN GamePlan outside the state.
ESPN's decision to pick up the game this late in the process came at the behest of Hyman, but the thousands upon thousands of phone calls and emails from irate fans of the schools which bombarded the network apparently also had an impact.
Wednesday after his team's workout, Bowden said he thought both moves were good ones.
"I don't know who (decided on the handshake), but it's a good idea," he said. "I think it's more of a gesture, because it's going to be a very intense game. A hand shake, that's probably about 20 minutes before the game, or whatever. I think the intensity will remain."
Asked if the handshake would head off any lingering hard feelings between the schools, Bowden laughed.
"I think the discipline last year diffused any of that stuff. It cost them boys a whole bunch of money," he said.
As for the game being moved off pay-per-view?
"I'm glad they did. They've been doing it 20 years, for some reason," he said. "Why not now?"
The decision to put the game on ESPN2 caused the Clemson administration to cancel plans for a free viewing of the game in Littlejohn Coliseum. The school was going to be allowed to show the game without cost, but once Tuesday night's announcement was made the need obviously wasn't as great.
Starting guard Nathan Bennett (calf) was back at practice Wednesday after missing the previous day. However freshman wide receiver Tyler Grisham (back) was in a yellow jersey (no contact) because of a bad back.
Both are listed as questionable for Saturday.
If Grisham is unable to play, his spot returning kickoffs would be filled by Chansi Stuckey.