CLEMSON - The Humanitarian Bowl may be considered the lowest of the low-tier bowls by some, but Tommy Bowden found out last week that at least some folks take the game seriously.
Speaking at his Humanitarian Bowl press conference Friday, Bowden expressed a bit of wonderment that while on his official trip to Boise last week, he found himself having an audience with the governor of Idaho.
"I've never really heard of the head coach at a school meeting with the governor for a long time, but we did when I went to Boise last Monday," he said "It wasn't one of those meet him and head out the door things, he actually sat down and talked with us for a long time. I think that shows it is a strong commitment from the community."
The community of Boise is banking quite a bit on Clemson.
With hometown Boise State not invited to the Humanitarian Bowl, the bowl's economic future - already in doubt - took another hit. So it was understandable, then, that bowl officials listened when Clemson fans inundated their office with calls and faxes, promising to bring fans and spend money if the Tigers received the at-large invitation.
They did, though the jury is still out on exactly how many Clemson fans will be making the 2,300-mile trip to Boise. The Clemson University ticket office declined to reveal exactly how many tickets have been sold thus far, and at least one chartered airplane trip had to be scrapped because of poor sales.
Bowden, however, continues to concentrate on the game itself, knowing that a win against Louisiana Tech will leave his team with a good feeling heading into the offseason.
"It's been close to two weeks since the Duke game and there's still a positive flavor in the players' attitudes," he said. "With a bowl win I think it would be the same way, it's just a longer amount of time until you play again. We haven't had that experience since I've been here.But being an assistant at other programs where we've won a bowl game going into the spring, it's a pretty positive feeling.That's a lot of guys that are going to be coming back in the spring that can carry a positive feeling into the lifting in January and the mat drills and then spring ball.
"We're anxious to see how productive we'll be because we haven't done it in the two years I've been here."
As for the advantage of getting an additional two weeks of practice for the game, Bowden plans to use the opportunity to work his younger players as much as possible.
But doing so will be within the context of trying to win the game, not a complete sellout for the 2002 season.
"With so many returning players, it's really a chance to get additional work for next year's team," Bowden said. "With most players returning on the two-deep depth chart, on both sides of the ball, a win would give you some momentum. All of your preparations are to win the game as far as formations and what personnel you are going to use.You plan to use the best guys to win the game.
"But again, because of whom we have coming back it's virtually next year's team. (But) the priority is still to win a bowl game, especially here, where Clemson has not won one since 1993."