ORLANDO, Fla. - Why do Clemson's players love bowl games in Florida?
It's a chance to do something the NCAA normally frowns upon - get paid.
Unlike a year ago when the Tigers flew to Boise, Idaho on a team charter, the
players were responsible for getting to Orlando on their own by Sunday
night's assigned meeting time. For their troubles, the NCAA allows each
player to be paid mileage from either their hometown or Clemson's campus,
which for some players can add up to big bucks.
Add in what Clemson and the bowl itself are allowed to do for them, and
Orlando will be a very profitable trip for most players.
"We're allowed to give them per diem money. We're allowed to give them
mileage money," Bowden said. "The Tangerine Bowl gives them leather jackets,
a CD player and a watch. Clemson's allowed to give them $300 worth, so
there's $600. Clemson cuts them an $850 check. So there are monetary rewards
"There's an NCAA limit on it. But they get the money."
Every Clemson player reported to Sunday's meeting on time, Bowden said, with
the exception of starting offensive tackle Gary Byrd.
Byrd's 62-year old grandmother died over the weekend and the funeral was
Monday. He is expected to rejoin the team by today's afternoon practice.
OUT ALL NIGHT
Bowden set Sunday, Monday and today's curfew's at 1 a.m. for his players. The
times are expected to get earlier as the week goes on.
Asked if thought he might actually have players stay out all night without a
curfew, Bowden laughed.
"Oh yeah," he said. "I think they would for sure. My son does. He's 21, which
is what these guys are. My daughter would if I would let her. But she's not
While the players get to enjoy some free time, Bowden won't. At least not
"Bowl trips are more fun for players, support staff, maybe wives and family,"
he said. "There's not a lot of time. By the time you shower and eat it's
close to 8 p.m. By the time you call prospects for an hour it's almost time
to pack it in."
Bowden, who has made something of a reputation for himself over his desire to
improve Clemson's facilities, has nothing to complain about in Orlando.
Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex is a 200-acre marvel which houses,
among other things, the Atlanta Braves spring training conglomerate. It was
enough to impress even Bowden.
You couldn't ask for a better facility," he said. "We can be back to the
hotel in eight minutes. Plenty of space. Flat. I'm glad we got it."
One player, senior rover Altroy Bodrick, took it a step further.
"I think it's better than our field," Bodrick said with a laugh. "But don't
tell coach Bowden I said that."
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 10 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.