CLEMSON - Three days after one of the most heartbreaking - not to mention
controversial - road losses in Clemson history, fans still were jamming
sports talk radio lines and Internet discussion boards with soulful, almost
painstaking cries for justice.
Last Tuesday's 60-59 loss to Florida State is one Clemson fans won't soon
forget, the circumstances so far out of left field that this particular
defeat will stand out among the other 266 conference road losses in school
history (vs. 58 wins) long after the principals involved have moved on to
Larry Rose's call of a foul on Sharrod Ford after - replays showed - time
expired, his misuse of the courtside replay monitor and his non-call on Ed
Scott's attempt to draw a charge on the ensuing inbound pass no doubt will
cast the official in the role of villain, now more than ever, in the eyes of
Everyone, it seems, has something to say about "the night Clemson was
Everyone, that is, except Larry Shyatt.
Oh sure, he talked to the Atlantic Coast Conference office. Talked to them
long and hard, expressing his belief that Clemson had, indeed, won the game
and Rose's call against Ford came too late.
He also talked to the league about Rose's non-call vs. Scott, and generally
expressed his displeasure with the whole process.
That was Wednesday morning. By Wednesday afternoon, Shyatt had moved ahead to
today's matchup with defending national champion Maryland.
"I'm not comfortable looking back," he said, pressed on the issue. "There's
the controllable and the uncontrollable, and we have to focus now on what we
can control. We have to continue getting better, continue correcting mistakes
and come out and start winning some games."
The Tigers have won 11 already. Lost just 3. Of course the problem lies in
the fact that all three losses have come inside conference play, where
Clemson has won no more than four games in the last three seasons of Shyatt's
That two of the three defeats have come by a total of three points means
nothing to this team. A year ago? That's a different story. Five losses by a
total of 16 points gave hope that things would be different "next year."
But with seniors Scott, Ray Henderson and Tomas Nagys, along with junior
Chris Hobbs, the Tigers are top-heavy in experience and - theoretically -
should be winning close games by now.
And perhaps they will.
There are 12 ACC games remaining on Clemson's schedule, and early action
inside the league has shown that anything is possible. N.C. State struggled
with Florida State, then drilled No. 1 Duke. Virginia, which lost by a point
to Clemson during a five-game road losing streak, bounced back earlier this
week and took out No. 17 Wake Forest.
Shyatt, looking only at the past to find correctable mistakes, presses onward
in hopes of moving upward in the conference standings.
As always, the fifth-year Tigers head coach maintains a positive outlook,
even as those around him brace for what they fear is yet another nose dive
into the ACC play-in game.
"This particular team has never played any of those other teams," Shyatt said
of past struggles. "They know nothing of it. All they know is how to work
hard at getting better.
"They, and I, believe good things are coming."
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.