CLEMSON - Another Clemson loss to Florida State, another chance to examine the gulf between the two programs.
Saturday's 41-27 defeat at the hands of the Seminoles in Death Valley again showed just how deeply talented Bobby Bowden's team is, and how much ground Clemson must make up in terms of recruiting.
When preseason injuries decimated Florida State at wide receiver, the elder Bowden could turn to a player such as Talman Gardner, a junior with very little collegiate success but with the pedigree of a high school All-American. Gardner torched the Clemson secondary for 115 yards and two touchdowns on six receptions.
When a Clemson starting corner or safety is lost due to injury, or benched for ineffectiveness, Tommy Bowden must turn to an unproven true or redshirt freshman.
It's a battle the Seminoles will win every time. The difference in depth is why Florida State continues to succeed in what most experts predicted would be a down year following a few early bumps in the road.
"It's like with our two young wide receivers we beat (Florida State) on here," Tommy Bowden said during his Sunday teleconference. "Airese Currie and Roscoe Crosby are both going to be excellent wide receivers. Then all the sudden you start beating them on the defensive line, defensive ends, some secondary guys, linebackers...
"We've been losing those guys to Georgia, Florida (or) Tennessee late."
Pressed for reasons why Clemson lost those recruiting battles in the past, and how to alleviate the problem in the future, Bowden again turned to a familiar subject.
"It takes a total commitment," he said. "A lot of times we're losing kids to schools with better facilities. We've addressed that issue, and we can more aggressively accomplish our goals, or have a better chance to accomplish our goals. That's kind of where we are right now.
"The guys we usually lose, we lose because of facilities."
Bowden said there are still pieces of the puzzle to be put in place, but the plan of action has been set. Groundbreaking for his much talked about Heritage Building will begin in 2003 and has been moved ahead of other projects, such as stadium renovations at Death Valley.
Because of that, Bowden said, evaluation of his program should not be judged on a five-year plan, but rather on what he accomplishes under current job conditions.
The locker rooms, he points out, are the same in which the 1981 National Championship team dressed. They, along with Death Valley, may have been state of the art 20 years ago, but by today's standards Bowden feels they are woefully lacking.
"Have you seen North Carolina's new $28 million building?," he said. "Have you seen the big one going up at N.C. State? Duke's $20 million (facility) that's about halfway through? Georgia Tech when the Olympics went through, what Florida State's done, Tennessee...?
"All those places kept up with the times. And we have now made a commitment to address that. When we do it, it's going to be done right. But all those schools have already started...you can go on down the line. We're just in the first phase."
In effect, then, Bowden is asking for patience in an atmosphere that lends itself to very little.
Eight games into his third season, talk radio shows, Internet chat rooms and discussion boards are being frequented by fans - many of whom pay large sums of money to Clemson University specifically for the football program - unhappy with what they see.
They point out the dramatic rise in programs such as North Carolina and Maryland inside the Atlantic Coast Conference, or the job a new coach like Bob Stoops has done at Oklahoma.
Why can't their program move forward at the same rapid pace, be it real or perceived?
"I haven't heard that reaction," Bowden said. "I think the fans that traveled to N.C. State and saw (the facilities), the fans that traveled to Duke and saw it...The facts are as they lie. All I'm quoting is statistical fact. Those are as they are, and there's nothing made up.
"The ones that have seen that and still think that way, those are the ones that have no concept."
*Clemson personnel Update: Ben Hall--(TE)--Separated shoulder, questionable; Morgan Woodward (TE)--sore ribs, questionable;
Jackie Robinson (WR)--pulled groin, questionable; Derrick Hamilton (WR)--Sprained ankle, questionable
*The Clemson vs. Maryland game will start at
7:00 PM and will be televised by ESPN-2.
*Woodrow Dantzler is sixth in the nation in total offense this week
with 32.1 yards per game. He is also 15th in the nation in points
responsibility and 24th in completions per game. He is 36th in
rushing and 34th in passing efficiency.
*Clemson is 92nd in the nation in turnover margin, up from 104th in
the nation after the North Carolina game. Clemson has actually won
the turnover margin stat each of the last two weeks. Maryland is
second in the nation in turnover margin.
*Top tacklers in the Florida State game for the Tigers were Eric
Meekins, John Leake and Rodney Thomas with 9 tackles apiece. Chad
Carson had 8.
*Woodrow Dantzler needs just 152 yards rushing to become just the
third player in NCAA history to have 5000 yards passing and 2500
yards rushing in a career. The others to do it are current Indiana
QB Antwaan Randle-El and former Louisiana-Lafayette QB Brian
Mitchell, who played from 1986-89. Dantzler now has 5034 yards
passing and 2348 rushing. These stats are for regular season play