Commentary: Davis, Reporters, Purnell and Other Notes


by - Correspondent -
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Cleaning out the ol' notebook...

***

When the news of James Davis' dissatisfaction broke last Friday night/Saturday morning, it caused many in Tiger Nation to gasp.

Has dissension invaded the Clemson locker room? Is Davis unhappy enough to transfer? Is Tommy Bowden losing control of his team?

In reality, none of the three are true.

Oh sure, there's been some internal griping and complaining brought about by the slow finish - capped off by the loss to South Carolina. And yes, many of the Tigers themselves asked the same question many of you (and we in the media) asked about that particular game:

Why didn't Tommy leave Reggie Merriweather in on the final drive?

But is it enough to tear apart the team?

Hardly.

The truth is more of this kind of thing happens than the average fan realizes. When you have 85 young men and a coaching staff thrown together every day from June on, things will happen.

Every fall practice Bowden informs us of a fight which took place during a scrimmage or contact drill. Someone isn't going to be happy with playing time. Someone else's role changes, which causes concern.

Kids transfer for a myriad of reasons. Some quit football all together.

All of these examples have happened at Clemson in recent years. And if Davis were to transfer - if he is really that upset - there's a talented running back behind him and the sun will come up in the morning.

In other words, "you-know-what" happens.

It happens in your family. It happens in mine. It happens in football families.

It's just that most of the time no one steps in front of a microphone and blabs it to the public.

***

Incidentally, Davis - when talking to reporters the next day - at one point referred to himself as a young player with much left to learn.

One thing he, and all players, must learn:

When you don't like the way one of your quotes looks in the papers the next day, don't blame the reporter and claim you never said what was printed.

Reporters carry - and use - those tape recorders for a reason.

***

Speaking of reporters, as Ray Ray McElrathby continues to rack up national recognition for his care of younger brother Fahmar, let's not forget Larry Williams.

Williams, the Clemson beat writer for the Post and Courier in Charleston, wrote the original story which started the ball rolling on Ray Ray's battle with the NCAA and subsequent national celebrity.

Fans are quick to jump on reporters for real or perceived slights to the local university.

They should be as quick to say thank you, too.

Many here have done just that. Let's just not forget about Williams' contribution as the McElrathby story continues to grow.

***

Finally, a tip of the cap to Oliver Purnell.

Clemson's men snuck into the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 at No. 25 this week, its first ranking since Jan. 11, 1999. The AP has yet to catch up, but if the Tigers run the table the rest of this month and hit the new year 14-0 it will be next to impossible to keep them unranked.

Meanwhile, Purnell's assertion that this should be his first NCAA tournament team at Clemson looks favorable from this camp. If the Tigers continue to shoot the ball reasonably well from the perimeter, this team should be a lock to finish at least 9-7 in the ACC this season.

That would add up to a 23-7 overall record. And with the team's RPI and Sagarin Ratings already among the nation's best, such a finish would be more than enough to send Clemson dancing.

Perhaps it's time to polish the shoes.

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