Burns: I hate it when Tommy Bowden is right

by - Correspondent -

For some reason I’m annoyed when Tommy Bowden is right. He perpetually pointed out Clemson was one play away – one play away from beating Georgia Tech in 2000, one play away from beating Boston College in 2007, one play away from reaching the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game. Half the teams playing every Saturday lose, he said. The best of them lose sometimes.

He was right. There is parity. Major colleges everywhere give out 85 scholarships. There are lots of proud programs that are capable and playing the games for real.

But Clemson is different. Understand, the Tigers are kind of a big deal.

And they have been losing too much in recent years. The descendents of Heisman, Howard and Ford have never played in an ACC championship game, established in 2005. They last won an ACC title in 1991, and they last won 10 games in 1990 – before Bowden and before Tommy West under coach Ken Hatfield.

Occasional 10-win seasons and conference titles for a well-endowed program dripping with tradition should not be too much to expect. Championship level is where this program belongs.

Eventually, natural order will be restored.

A title could still come this year. After falling a play short at No. 25 Georgia Tech, after falling a play short against No. 11 Texas Christian, after rain, lightning, CJ’s Lightning and the wet feet of coach Dabo Swinney’s new regime, Clemson (2-2 overall, 1-1 ACC) remains within realistic reach of winning the Atlantic Division and the title game. North Carolina State (3-1, 0-0) and Maryland (1-3, 0-0) are the only division teams without a conference loss, and they remain on the schedule with Florida State (2-2, 0-1).

Clemson plays Saturday at Maryland, Oct. 17 against Wake Forest (2-2, 0-1) and Oct. 24 at Miami (2-1, 2-1) in a crucial stretch.

The Tigers have as good a chance as any.

For a rookie coach with a rookie quarterback, just a couple of plays will make all the difference.

Once again last week, Clemson didn’t make the plays that made the difference in a 14-10 loss. TCU did – a fluke, batted pass for a 58-yard gain on third down with 13 yards to go, an amazing catch by Antoine Hicks and timely running by quarterback Andy Dalton. Clemson missed a field goal, missed an open receiver, missed a catch, missed a tackle and missed a chance to beat a team currently ranked No. 10 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.

Swinney is coaching now to do what Bowden couldn’t – lead the team to make the plays that make that difference. The Rock, the Hill, Death Valley, Tiger Rag and the fans, especially the wet ones, deserve to win.

Bowden knew that, I think, but he didn’t know better than to reason with fanatics. When he rationalized individual failures, it seemed to make it worse that there was no excuse over his 10-year haul.

Good news is Dabo seems different, but he may have less time to prove it since he was hired from Bowden’s staff by a team that Bowden left largely in decent shape. It’ll help him to be right only if he says winning things.

Lies and statistics

The numbers tell the story.

Clemson running back CJ Spiller is No. 3 in the nation with an average of just over 214 all-purpose running yards per game. Maryland sophomore wide receiver Torrey Smith is No. 2 with just under 245. Marshall junior running back Darius Marshall is No. 1 with 250.

Spiller needs 64 to become the ACC’s career leader in all-purpose running yards. He has 5,765, behind 5,828 by Leon Johnson of North Carolina, who finished in 1996. If he proves as durable as electric, CJ will be the greatest Clemson running back of all time.

Maryland’s Smith has scored two touchdowns receiving, one rushing and one on a kickoff return.

Clemson held former Maryland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, the No. 7 overall draft pick of the Oakland Raiders, without a catch the last two years.

Clemson ranks No. 82 in the nation, of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams, in red-zone efficiency. The Tigers have just one rushing touchdown and one passing touchdown in 13 red-zone chances this year.

Clemson ranks No. 26 in total defense. Maryland ranks No. 103 in total defense, No. 110 in rushing defense, No. 113 in sacks allowed and No. 117 in turnover margin.

TCU’s Dalton rushed 16 times for 70 yards in wins over Virginia and Texas State, combined, prior to the Horned Frogs’ win over Clemson Saturday, when he ran 19 times for 80 big yards.

Hater’s game

Posted by “mfbmgn” this week, after Maryland’s 34-13 loss to Rutgers, about Terps coach Ralph Friedgen on TurtleSportsReport.com:
“The current makeup of the team is entirely his recruits. The players are obviously not buying what the Fridge is selling. There is a lack of talent on both sides of line. It’s one thing if your talent level is not up to your opponents. There is no excuse for lack of effort.”

Nine years ago we heard Friedgen was an offensive genius set to take over the ACC, a guru, the offensive Fridge (with respect to Clemson great William Perry), the Round Mound of Touchdowns, a whole lot of scoring. Now he’s on “Hot Seat” watches by CBS Sports and Fox Sports. The Terps, 1-3 this year, are 33-28 the last five seasons.

Postgame shake

The 62-year-old Fridge lost 86 pounds between October and May to drop to 315, according to The Washington Post. I’m 20 pounds overweight, myself, and ugly. He’s in a tough position in College Park. The Terps don’t deserve to win, not Saturday.

Bowden may have left a little later after a loss to Wake Forest, but last year’s 20-17 loss to Maryland, after a 17-6 halftime lead, ran him off, really. He was one play away.

Someone other than Spiller or Jacoby Ford will have to make plays if Clemson is to play for an ACC title, and freshman quarterback Kyle Parker will have to play beyond his years, but just one play shouldn’t make the difference this week against Maryland. I hope the Tigers win by two scores, and I hope they do it for Tommy Bowden. I hate it when he’s wronged.

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Subject (Replies: 39) Author
Burns: I hate it when Tommy Bowden is right
Lost me at parity....***
why are so many bothered and/or afraid of that term?***
Because that's the term Bowden used for 10 yrs to explain
Ok, but ....
I know and it's also a fact that half
As they should. What would be interesting is if the losers
If Tommy Bowden were their coach....
Where would we be now...
Tommy Bowden locked into a 25-year contract,
Where would we be now is Spence had passed more against BC?
I was not a fan of Bowden's loyalty to Spence. I will never
If Dabo gets the oculus built, I'm good.
no #### dude!
Re: Burns:-not interested in Tommy Talk!
Re: Burns: I hate it when Tommy Bowden is right
I don't hear Beamer whine about being 1 play away every year
Re: I don't hear Beamer whine about being 1 play away every year
So coaching means nothing? It's all on the players?
I don't completely disagree. However, if your players
ha ha.... right.
Didn't see Beamer whining about his players missing a play.***
Players missing plays? Does someone else miss plays?
No. Beamer did not whine about his players missing a play.
brandon ore, marcus vick, i could go on and on about the
I could go on about Beamer's titles, NFL drafts & no whining***
he whines like a school girl when he loses.
And Dabo and Bowden could take some lessons from Beamer
Tell you what, give Dabo the same 5/6 years that Beamer was
Sorry, but Dabo is only getting 3-4 years. Beamer was
first, vatech tried to replace beamer, but couldn't.
VT used to be a joke. Dabo shouldn't get 4 years if he fails
hey razz, i'm with you. i understand what condition the
Beamer has no reason to whine. He wins the ACC about
Of course TB was right about parity. He was just wrong
lol. good point........... :-)***
In every close game in the history of football....
Re: Burns: I hate it when Tommy Bowden is right
Clemson was 1 head coach away the last 10 years***
Re: Clemson was 1 head coach away the last 10 years***

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