Editor's Note: TigerNet would like to welcome Scott Rhymer as a new contributor to the site. Scott comes to us with several years experience covering the Tigers including being the host of a pregame football radio show on WCCP.
On paper, the 2005 home football schedule could be the most challenging and exciting in Clemson football history. The Tigers host Texas A&M, Miami, Boston College and Florida State as marquee home games. Temple and Duke round out the other two home games in 2005, with Duke slated as Homecoming.
Surprisingly, Clemson has hosted three ranked teams (at the time of the
game) only two times in the history of Death Valley. The most recent time was in 2003 when Clemson hosted Georgia, Virginia, and Florida State.
The only other time was in 1988 when the Tigers hosted Florida State, Duke, and South Carolina.
Other than those two years, Death Valley has not seen three or more ranked teams come to Clemson during the course of a season, and Clemson has most certainly not hosted three major opponents at home with the national recognition that the Aggies, Hurricanes, and Seminoles will bring to town this autumn.
The 2005 home schedule offers four potential Top 25 football teams, which Terry Don Phillips and IPTAY may be ready to pounce on.
A quick scan of the schedule offers three virtual certainties in the Top 25 that will visit Clemson, with a forth possibility waiting in the wings.
The season opener against Texas A&M will be against a team that will be ranked anywhere from #12 to #18 in the preseason polls that will hit newsstands in August.
Miami will visit Clemson on September 17, bringing with them a possible Top ten ranking if the Hurricanes can defeat Florida State in Tallahassee in the season opener.
Many think that Boston College will enter the preseason in the Top 25.
But the Eagles have a tough road to Clemson as they travel to BYU in week one followed by home games against Army and Florida State. If the Eagles can win two of their first three games, it is likely that they could enter Clemson in the Top 25.
On November 12, Clemson will host Florida State as the Tigers try to win back to back home games versus the Seminoles for the first time ever. Considering Florida State has spent just about every week since 1986 in the Top 25, it is hard to imagine a situation in which the Seminoles don’t come to Clemson ranked.
The Tigers other two home games against Duke and Temple offer little excitement value, although the Tigers are coming off a stunning loss to the Blue Devils in 2004.
What all of this adds up to is good news for Terry Don Phillips and the folks in the Clemson athletic administration. The Tigers have, on paper, the most attractive home schedule in the history of the program. Demand for tickets to these four marquee games will no doubt be very high, which plays right into the hands of the people who are in charge of increasing revenue to IPTAY.
Dr. Phillips, in his weekly letter in the Orange and White in early March, hinted that change may be on the way. Dr. Phillips used most of the space in the article to provide data that IMG (and international sports marketing firm) had compiled to show the “real” cost to attend a Clemson home game in relation to games in similar seats at South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida State.
“This year, in anticipation of our annual ticket pricing review, we engaged an independent study to help us evaluate Clemson's ticket pricing and contribution averages compared to neighboring comparable colleges with strong football programs,” Phillips wrote.
“We wanted a genuine assessment of where we stand.”
Where Clemson stood, according to Dr. Phillips and the survey, suggested that the value of the money spent at Clemson went much further than at Clemson’s rival schools.
If you ever want to really rouse up the Clemson Nation, start talking about the need for increasing minimum donations to IPTAY. Many Clemson folks who jumped on the IPTAY bandwagon in the late 1970’s have benefited greatly from a small and steady pace to their IPTAY contributions. These families have good seats and good parking and have no desire/incentive to give beyond what they have been giving.
They played the system perfectly, which you most certainly cannot fault them for doing. The flawed judgment lies with the previous Athletic Department, who literally maintained the status quo in minimum donations for over 20 years.
New graduates to Clemson want good seats and parking immediately, something that the current IPTAY points system (which factors in donor giving and years of loyalty) does not offer.
And now Terry Don Phillips is left to clean up the mess.
The dynamics have changed drastically in intercollegiate athletics since the mid 1980’s. Clemson simply cannot function financially at the level they currently operate at and keep pace with the rivals mentioned in the IMG study. That is fact, and debating that notion is a dreadful waste of time and energy.
So Dr. Phillips has to play the bad guy. He has to come in, increase minimum donations, and constantly preach about the need for raising more and more money for special projects not covered by IPTAY annual contributions. There is plenty of evidence that the message has not gotten through to the average Clemson fan, as the West Endzone Project became mired in delays while Clemson Nation stood by and asked “why”.
The “why” was simple. There was not enough money.
You can sense that the times are changing at IPTAY, however. The hiring of the IMG group emphasizes that the athletic administration understands the need to think proactively and institute changes that are “outside of the box”.
You can also sense, at least from the official discussions and communications from Dr. Phillips, that he may be ready to seize upon this home schedule in 2005.
The change that needs to take place is going to be a bumpy road. Dr.
Phillips will no doubt bare the brunt of most of the criticism that he will most certainly receive from the old guard and the newbies…however unfair that may be.
But having a home schedule like 2005, with games that Clemson fans are going to have a hard time saying no to, may be the right time to make some of the toughest changes. There will undoubtedly be people that won’t accept any increases, and they will simply take their ball and go home.
In addition, there are going to be some new graduates who want instant gratification and do not see the value of paying into the system long term.
But you have to think that the number of folks who refuse to go along with the changes will be far less when they stare down this historic schedule.
Dr. Phillips and the athletic administration are more than smart enough to realize that. This may be the perfect time, if there is such a thing, for Clemson to restructure IPTAY in a way that will bring it inline with what Clemson’s heated rivals are doing.
At the very least, this home schedule gives Clemson some leverage.
Leverage it has never had in the history of the program.