Clemson featured in Ch. 1 of Tommy Bowden's new book
Former Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden's new book "Winning Character" was released on September 1. The book begins by detailing how close Clemson came to winning the division on two occasions.
They say there’s a fine line between winning and losing. Let me tell you just how “fine” the “fine line” can be.
When the smoke cleared on the last week of the 2005 college football regular season—my seventh as head coach at Clemson—we missed claiming the ACC Atlantic Division title by one win.
Make that one point.
Following hard, back-to-back home losses to #17 Boston College (in overtime) and #13 Miami (in triple overtime), we had just begun clawing our way back into contention before dropping a late October game at Georgia Tech.
Final score, 10–9.
We had been inside their 10-yard line with less than six minutes to play, first and goal, trailing by four. Freshman wide receiver Aaron Kelly had run back the first kickoff return of his career 81 yards to give us the short field. But when Charlie WhitehurstCharlie Whitehurst
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Turned out to be a good call. Our defense held well enough to give us two more chances to score in the final minutes, one that died on a failed fourth-down attempt, less than ten yards out of reasonable field goal range, the other on a last-second interception. We were that close.
And even though we responded the next two weeks with blowout wins over Duke as well as my father’s eventual ACC champion Florida State to close out the conference schedule, we could never overcome that one-point loss in Atlanta from mid-season. When it was all said and done, when the games were all played out, we were one point away.
Then came 2006—when we not only missed clinching our division again by one point, but by one extra point.
We had come into our week two rematch with Boston College ranked #18 in the country, and we established the lead early, going up 10–0 by the end of the first quarter, only to be caught from behind when they returned the second-half kickoff for a touchdown to tie the score at 17. Unfortunately that wasn’t their only long kick return of the afternoon, including a thirty-yarder midway through the fourth period that gave quarterback Matt Ryan ample field position for a game-tying drive. (We certainly weren’t the first—and probably won’t be the last—to learn from that mistake with him.) Before we knew it, we were facing yet another overtime affair—our second straight against BC in two consecutive years.
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