Hood: Clemson needs to embrace the moment against FSU
|Sunday, September 14, 2014 9:01 AM- -|
CLEMSON – The outcome of Clemson’s game at Florida St. is already a foregone conclusion.
Clemson plays at Florida St. next weekend in Tallahassee, an 8 p.m. kickoff that will be featured on primetime television. Any hopes that Clemson had of going on the road and winning in Tallahassee went out the window when the time for the kickoff was announced, right? FSU’s fans will be loud, riled up and liquored up as their team goes for its 19th consecutive win. They have the Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback, an offensive line that might be the nation’s best and future NFL players up and down the roster. Did I mention this team is also the defending national champion?
Clemson plays at Florida St. next weekend in Tallahassee, an 8 p.m. kickoff that will be featured on primetime television. Any hopes that Clemson had of going on the road and winning in Tallahassee went out the window when the time for the kickoff was announced, right?
FSU’s fans will be loud, riled up and liquored up as their team goes for its 19th consecutive win. They have the Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback, an offensive line that might be the nation’s best and future NFL players up and down the roster.
Did I mention this team is also the defending national champion?
Last season there was a ton of hype and buildup heading into the game – FSU was 5-0 and ranked fifth nationally, Clemson was 6-0 and ranked third nationally. The winner would have the inside track to the ACC Atlantic Division title and a trip to the ACC title game. An undefeated record would mean a chance to play for the national championship.
One team responded, the other folded. Florida St. went on to achieve all of those goals, and Clemson wound up losing to South Carolina at the end of the season before rebounding with an Orange Bowl win over Ohio St.
So, does Clemson have a shot in this one? A game that sees Florida St. as a 16.5 point favorite with over a week before the game is played? The experts will say no. I am certain that when my prediction comes out next Friday, I will have Florida St. winning. History tells us that Clemson has lost nine games since the beginning of the 2011 season, and all nine have been in double digits. Florida St. is responsible for two of those wins – a 49-37 win in Tallahassee two years ago and the 51-13 thrashing last season in Death Valley.
In other words, the Tigers have no shot. But maybe, just maybe, that will be an advantage. All it takes is for one player – one leader- to realize that Clemson’s season hangs in the balance. Clemson head coach
Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
View Full Profile sets forth five goals each season: Win the opener; win the division; win the ACC; win the state title; win the bowl game.
The opener has already been lost, and a loss at FSU likely means the ACC Atlantic title and a chance to play in the ACC title game are lost as well. That leaves a state title – a win over South Carolina – and a win in a bowl game as the last two objectives. Those are fine, and most Clemson fans would trade a chance at an ACC title for a win over the Gamecocks. I get it.
But, this gets me (finally) to the point of this column. If I had the chance to talk to Clemson’s seniors before the start of the game, I wouldn’t give them a fire and brimstone speech, something that leaves players whooping and hollering and ready to run through a brick wall.
Instead, I would tell them to embrace the moment. For these seniors, it might be the last chance you ever get to take on a No. 1 team. The last chance to win a big game on the road. The last chance you have to cement your tiger paw legacy. Don’t mess that up.
In this job, I get the opportunity to do some great things, and I’ve been doing it a long time. With that age comes what I hope is a little bit of wisdom, and midway through the third quarter of Clemson’s loss at Georgia on the opening weekend, I turned to Nikki Steele and told her that win or lose, this was a moment to remember. The bands were playing, the fans were screaming, two teams were going at it on the field. Sometimes my colleagues get so wrapped up in making a board post or posting some 140 character insight onto Twitter that they forget to have fun with where they are.
Rick Reilly, the outstanding sports columnist who worked for Sports Illustrated, spoke to the graduating class at the University of Wisconsin several years ago, and he gave them much the same sentiment.
“Remember when you were a kid? All you dreamed of was playing centerfield for the New York Yankees. Soon, you'll be there. Don't forget to tingle."
That’s it. I would tell those seniors to walk into that stadium, with 80,000 fans cheering against you and with a Heisman Trophy winner across the way, and take it all in. Not everybody gets to do what you do, and not everybody gets the chance to say they were there when……..you knocked off a number one. When you shocked the world. When you laid it all on the line and embraced the challenge and the moment and most importantly, had fun.
Take a moment, look around the stadium, soak it all in. Don’t forget to tingle. And maybe you will overcome the history and the obstacles and the naysayers and do the impossible.