Commentary: Dreaming The Impossible Dream?

by - Correspondent -

His concrete bench missing in action, Tommy Bowden on Tuesday leaned against one of the now famous tombstones set up just inside the gates of the Jervey practice facility for his daily meeting with the media.

The tombstones are significant because of what they represent - Clemson road victories over ranked teams.

Bowden would love to add another large piece of granite to the Clemson collection this weekend. Of course to do so, his Tigers must do something they haven't done since 1989:

Beat Florida State in Tallahassee.

A difficult enough proposition under normal circumstances, to be sure. But these are far from normal circumstances.

For the second time in less than a calendar year the Clemson football team finds itself in crisis. Losses to Georgia Tech and Texas A&M have the Tigers' season, a mere three games old, hanging in the balance. And with the unenviable task of facing FSU and Virginia on the road in the next two games, some fans have given up on 2004 and are already projecting win-loss records for next season.

But looking backward for just a moment, 2003 should have taught us never to say never.

The finish to that season has been well documented, beginning with the humiliating loss to Wake Forest and ending with a Peach Bowl victory over Tennessee and a Top 25 ranking.

That amazing turnaround began with a victory over Florida State. Florida State is next on Clemson's current schedule.

Could this be Yogi Berra's infamous deja vu all over again?

Logic says no.

This current team has too many holes, beginning with both lines. It's been 15 years since the Tigers have won at Doak Campbell Stadium. Before scoring 31 points and still losing by 17 there two years ago, Clemson managed to average two - yes, two - points in the previous five meetings in Tallahassee.

Yet for all the reasons why Clemson shouldn't win, is it totally out of the realm of possibility to suggest it might?

Couldn't this be the week the young offensive tackles grade excellent on both performance and assignments? Isn't it possible that the defense - which stuffed FSU stud Greg Jones a year ago - could remember how to tackle and at least slow the Seminoles' running attack?

Can't Charlie Whitehurst, benefiting from improved play from his offensive line, finally break out of his semi funk?

Isn't Chris Rix, after all, still the Florida State quarterback?

The Rix factor alone is enough to give the Tigers at least a shot. Wonderfully talented as he is, Rix would be the case study of a lifetime for some aspiring head doctor in search of a government grant.

His inconsistency is matched only by his ability to rub folks the wrong way. Whether it's finding ways to alienate his offensive linemen, or handing out business cards containing his picture to young coeds, Rix seemingly finds a way to keep himself embroiled in some kind of controversy.

Still, the Seminoles are a super talented bunch, especially on defense. Yet while they may be superior in some matchups, their aggressive style at least gives Clemson's playmakers a chance to make plays.

Whether they make enough plays to win, nobody knows. The odds say they won't.

So does logic.

But logic doesn't wear a uniform. Logic doesn't suffer wounded pride. Logic doesn't have the most basic of human elements - the natural reaction to fight back when all seems lost.

Logic also doesn't take into account fate or luck, either of which could decided to shine on Clemson Saturday afternoon. In fact, many Tiger fans are madly searching for ways to accrue one or both.

Mostly the searches are in vain. However, if one is looking for a sign, perhaps you need look no further than the tombstones.

Consciously or not, Bowden wandered his way over to one particular stone Tuesday and reclined for his chat with the media.

Which one?

Tallahassee, Fla. 1989.

Clemson 34, Florida State 23.

Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger and TigerNet. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.

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