Commentary: Bowden Proves Again He Connects With Players


by - Correspondent -
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It's funny - sometimes - to watch the fan tug of war over a school's football coach.


When Team U. is going good, any anti-coach talk usually is kept quiet, buried underneath the eternal optimism of the happy fans. When the team struggles, underperforms or otherwise fails to meet expectations, the tide of rhetoric takes a dramatic turn to the negative.


It happened at Clemson again this year.


With the Tigers 1-4, much of the anti-Bowden group was very much in evidence. Now, three weeks and three wins later, the pro-Bowden contingent is talking of another, even more grand finish to a football season than we saw in 2003.


Interestingly, the one thing which hasn't changed is Bowden himself.


True, the circumstances are different. There's no impending feeling of doom over his job security, as there was at this time a year ago. Consequently, there's no "drive to save coach's job" feeling among the players.


But the approach Bowden used during the 2003 miracle finish is the same one he's used while the Tigers have fought back to 4-4:


Whatever pressures may be building on the inside, the outward appearance never shows. Keep doing the things that have always worked. Display good habits. Think positively. Never stop trying to improve. Believe in yourself, your teammates, the system.


Change the things you can control. Don't sweat the things you can't.


Such an approach kept Bowden from losing his players a year ago, and has kept him from losing them again this year. For whatever is going wrong, despite what may or may not be working, Bowden's players have never quit giving the proper effort.


That, in and of itself, speaks volumes about Bowden the man.


Sure, fans want Bowden the football coach to win more games. So does Bowden. But somehow it should be comforting to at least know that, win or lose, Clemson has a man at the helm the players respect.


Ask any coach. He'll take respect over like any day.


***


Okay ACC. It's time to put up or shut up.


I'm speaking of those who occupy the ACC offices, the decision-makers and rule-passers of the league.


If Oliver Hoyte is allowed on the field this week when N.C. State hosts Georgia Tech, throw out the rule book. Quit handing out discipline. Stop pretending the welfare of student athletes is your No. 1 priority.


In case you haven't seen the video, Hoyte is the Wolfpack junior linebacker who, after assisting on a tackle of Clemson tailback Reggie Merriweather in the fourth quarter last Saturday, intentionally used his left hand to gouge Merriweather's eye.


The incident happened with just under 9:40 to go in Clemson's 26-20 victory. Slow motion video of the play clearly shows Hoyte - No. 22 - jamming his hand inside Merriweather's facemask. Merriweather came away with a cut and a bruise around his eye.


Only slightly less disgusting was another play, also caught on tape, approximately two minutes later.

Walking back to the huddle and jawing with Leroy Hill, State wide reciever John Dunlap is caught on video spitting on the Clemson linebacker. The incident followed an incomplete pass at the 7:36 mark of the fourth quarter.


And it's not like Dunlap is a seasoned veteran. He's a freshman.


It almost makes you wonder what else they're being taught, and by whom.


The ball is in your court, ACC.


What are you going to do about it?

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