CLEMSON - Clemson's hope of ending an otherwise disappointing season with a bowl berth took a severe blow Sunday when the Tangerine and Silicon Valley Bowls each bypassed the Tigers.
The Tangerine Bowl selection committee met for over two hours Sunday afternoon before voting to invite North Carolina State to the Dec. 20 game against Pittsburgh in Orlando. Shortly afterwards, Michigan State accepted an invitation to the Silicon Valley Bowl in San Jose, Calif. to play Fresno State on Dec. 31.
That leaves the Humanitarian Bowl, Dec. 31 in Boise, Idaho, as Clemson's last hope of obtaining a postseason berth.
Clemson Sports Information Director Tim Bourret, speaking from Durham, N.C., before the Clemson-Duke men's basketball game, said Tigers' head coach Tommy Bowden wouldn't be available to the media until he knew the team's fate had been decided.
In a teleconference announcing N.C. State's selection to the Tangerine, incoming bowl executive director Tom Mickle said the choice between State and Clemson came down to late-season performance:
Clemson lost four of its final six games, while the Wolfpack won four of its last five, including a stunning upset of Florida State in Tallahassee.
"It was a tough decision. On the field they're both very similar teams," Mickle said. "Probably the group felt that toward the end of the season N.C.State was playing very well. That probably influenced them more than anything."
Outgoing Tangerine Bowl Executive Director Chuck Rhoe said approximately 100 selection committee members eligible to vote held a "spirited discussion" before coming to the decision. Between 40 and 50 members of the committee spoke before the vote was taken.
Tangerine officials refused to comment on the final vote total.
Clemson's hopes now are in the hands of the Humanitarian Bowl selection committee. Gary Beck, the bowl's executive director, said a meeting was scheduled for Sunday evening.
The bowl must first resolve a tie-breaking issue involving the Western Athletic Conference teams vying for the automatic berth, Boise State and Louisiana Tech. That issue was being discussed via conference call Sunday night, which Beck expected to delay a final announcement until today.
Other teams vying for the bowl's at-large berth are Ole Miss and UCLA.
"We were looking at both Clemson and North Carolina State, and to be honest I'm glad the Tangerine Bowl took State," Beck said. "I think Clemson is a better matchup for us. They have a great tradition, a great quarterback, they travel well and have a coach who comes from the first family of college football coaching."
Beck also said Clemson's administration had expressed an interest in the Humanitarian Bowl.
"There has been a strong interest on both sides," he said.
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger and the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 10 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9.