Commentary- Herring: A Refreshing Change from Coachspeak

by - Correspondent -
Reggie Herring's defense finished 18th in the country in rushing defense and 23rd in scoring defense last season.

CLEMSON -- Clemson defensive coordinator Reggie Herring never finds himself at a loss
for words, nor is he likely to back down from a difficult question.

Even in the face of growing criticism last season, Herring never shied away
from media scrutiny. He answered every question, sometimes before they were
even asked.

For a sports writer, Herring is a refreshing change from many of those we
cover on a daily basis who practice "coachspeak" — the ability to talk for an
hour and say nothing.

Thursday, as a guest on my daily radio show, Herring was as good as
advertised. Witness a random sampling of quotes:

— On Paul White, who has been Clemson's most impressive defensive lineman
this spring, but has an indictment on federal counterfeiting charges hanging
over his head:

"The young man made a mistake, but by no means is he a bad person...He's
never been in an ounce of trouble here. He's always been a great kid, and he
made a mistake. Hopefully that won't cost him his career and life because the
kid is not a criminal, and is not a bad person. He made a dumb decision.

"Now, if this had been a string of things it would be the other way around.
But it would be a tragedy if he's not here with us."

— On the public and media who question whether White should even be allowed
on the team:

"This is where the media or public probably doesn't understand the dynamics
of college student athletes. (The public or media) did not look those parents
in the eye and say 'when he gets here we're going to treat him like our own
son.' That's how you lead into it.

"We're going to do everything we can to raise him, and discipline and
structure his environment so he can be a success. We will treat him like our
own son...Your son has always been a good kid all his life, you've raised him
and he's never been in trouble, ever. He makes a poor decision one time, and
you tell me you're going to say 'get rid of that kid, throw him out, he's no

— On losing senior safety Robert Carswell to graduation:

"Eric Meekins is more talented than Robert Carswell, but I think the biggest
thing is we can improve that position period whether Carswell was here or
not. I don't think Robert had an exceptional year as a senior. I thought it
was very average, if we want to speak in reality and truth. We're replaced
him with someone with more ability, but now it comes down to dependability
and accountability."

— On whispers that last year's late-season struggles might have his job in

"When you've never been in this position it's easy to (scrutinize). The
quick-fix thing is throw the coach out and move on. The bottom line is I
don't worry about that stuff. All I care about is how my boss and the board
of regents feel, to tell you the truth. And my boss knows the intangibles and
dynamics of what creates problems on a team and what the reasons are.

"I'm sure if I was the problem there'd be a change made, and I'd accept it
and move on...Look, I've already been fired here once. I've seen the ugly
side of college football, and to be honest with you, you can heat me all you
want. I'm not going to melt."

— On his focus of taking away the opposing offense's big play, which plagued
Clemson down the stretch in 2000:

"That's what we're stressing. They better. We've lost a bunch of players and
we've got a bunch of no-name guys. But I like our kids, I think they've got a
great attitude and they work hard."

Dan Scott is the host of SportsTalk (10AM-Noon) on 104.9 FM in Upstate SC and
Managing Editor of Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger

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