CLEMSON - Last season it was Reggie Ball. This year, Chan Gailey?
Like most coaches, Clemson's Tommy Bowden always searches for even the smallest amount of extra motivation for his team. So when Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey was quoted Tuesday as saying playing in Clemson's Death Valley is like "playing anywhere else," Bowden's eyes lit up.
"It's been discussed," Bowden grinned when asked about Gailey's remark.
Told Gailey revised the remark Wednesday, Bowden shook his head.
"Too late. That one ain't getting up (on the bulletin board)," he said with a laugh. "Sorry Chan, the revision is not getting up. Us and Wallace Wade (Stadium at Duke), same environment..."
Jokes aside, the situation brought back to light the comments Ball made after Tech lost to Florida State in early 2003. Ball, then a freshman, said the Yellow Jackets wouldn't lose again the rest of the season.
The comment went up on the Clemson bulletin board and, whether it played a role in the game's outcome or not, the Tigers blitzed Tech the next week in Atlanta 39-3.
Bowden said to use such tactics is commonplace throughout the coaching profession.
"You look for every mental edge you can get," he said. "The kids lift weights, they practice while everyone else is out there playing around. It's tough to keep them motivated, especially during the rigors of the season where it's the same thing every day. The same monotonous schedule every single day.
"I'm sure every coach does it because the mental aspect is so big. Anything to get their attention and make them more focused."
And as for spinning what could very well have been an innocent comment by Gailey into Clemson's favor?
"It's an election year," Bowden laughed again.
Chan Gailey Press Conference Comments
A surprise break in the weather allowed Clemson to get in its usual full outdoor workout Wednesday, much to Bowden's delight.
After making due with the indoor track facility Tuesday, the team returned to the Jervey Practice Facility and made good use of the new outdoor artificial surface. With Thursday's practice usually more of a quick-paced walk through, getting back outside Wednesday was important, Bowden said.
"We did our best-on-best work on the field turf, and that really helped," he said. "We tore up field three a little bit, but not as bad as we would have had we practiced on it all day."
Safety Jamaal Fudge (strained calf) and defensive tackle Eric Coleman (sprained knee) both practiced full speed Wednesday and are probable for Saturday night.
Running back Duane Coleman, trying for an early return from a broken foot, is looking less and less likely to play against the Yellow Jackets.
"I won't say he can't play, but it's even less of a chance today than it was yesterday," Bowden said. "he didn't do anything in practice today."
Bowden is scheduled for an 8:15 a.m. flight to Florida today to attend the funeral of his former brother-in-law John Madden, 45, and nephew Bowden Madden, 15. The funeral is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Central Time.
Whether or not he misses practice and his weekly radio show will depend on what the family has planned afterwards, Bowden said.
If he does miss the broadcast, offensive coordinator Mike O'Cain and defensive coordinator John Lovett will fill in.