CLEMSON -- It would have been fair enough for Tommy Bowden to say, in his best Ric Flair voice, “whooooooo, to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man…and I just beat the man.”
And maybe he did do just that in the privacy of his home with just his wife, Linda, there to witness it.
But Sunday afternoon, instead of chest thumping and finger pointing, Bowden was still in a back-slapping and even somewhat self-critical mood as he talked about Clemson’s 26-10 win over Florida State.
“If you ever sit in one of these film sessions, you find out that you get more mad about what could have been,” he said. “You have a tendency to put a priority on mistakes. Usually when you lose you don’t come out feeling as bad and when you win you don’t’ come out feeling as good.”
You can only imagine, though, that the coaches in the privacy of their film session didn’t beat themselves up too bad. Bowden had plenty of praise for his offensive coordinators.
“John Lovett did a good job of disguising some different looks,” he said. “They gave the perception of press man and then they would turn and run deep. It had to be a little bit frustration for a quarterback when you think your receivers have a chance to beat the guy deep.”
Florida State’s receivers weren’t the only ones fooled Saturday night.
After Clemson’s loss to Wake Forest, few could have predicted what happened Saturday night.
Clemson, which has played Florida State well at times in Death Valley over the past decade, never has slowed down the Seminoles’ offense during that time. They have always somehow managed to break down the Clemson defense enough to win the game.
Saturday night, though, the Florida State offense was frustrated. There was finger pointing on the Florida State sideline, instead of the usual chest-thumping.
Bowden said that part of the plan was to pick on Rix’s inconsistency by stopping their running game first. “We held them to eleven yards rushing,” he said. “You might not want that plan against (Phillip) Rivers or (Matt) Schaub, but right now their quarterback is kinda streaky.”
The end result was Bowden getting his first Gatorade shower since he’s been at Clemson.
“They obviously caught me off-guard,” he said. “I saw the kids back there, but they’re back there all the time.”
Bowden didn’t need the Gatorade to throw a cold shower on his ego. He says his thoughts at the time, instead of being on how he had proven his critics wrong, were on the players and fans.
“When the game looks like you might have it won, you’re happy for the players and the fans,” he said. “They’re the ones that support you. That’s the biggest win over a ranked team in Clemson history. When I’m getting that bath my mind is on those two things more than anything else.”
Ric Flair never had a Gatorade shower either, so you have to think Bowden knows what he’s talking about.