Looking Ahead Not As Easy for the Head Coach

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Football players are taught at an early age to mentally dispose of each loss as quickly as possible. Football coaches aren't so lucky.

Immediately following a loss the coach will tell the media his team must forget the sins of the previous week and focus on the next opponent. Don't let one loss beat you twice, some are fond of saying.

But hours after a defeat, while players have returned to campus for dinner or a night out with family and friends, the head coach is replaying the game over and over again in his mind. It's not uncommon for other loss-related problems to arise.

"I get sick, physically," Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden said following Thursday's practice.

Illness must be overcome, however. There is work to be done. Sunday brings film breakdown, a cinematic reminder of the previous day's shortcomings. On Monday the on-field corrections begin. How long it takes to accomplish that feat varies from week to week.

Perhaps by Thursday a coach is totally free of the previous week.

Sometimes the sick feeling lingers until the next victory.

"We live with it a little bit longer because we're the ones held accountable for making sure the problems on Saturday get corrected," he said. "So we've got to be conscious of the mistakes made, and do they get corrected Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday...that type of thing.

"As far as having a negative impact on being able to erase it and prepare for the next one, that's kind of what we do for a living. We've all had experiences similar to that, and you learn."

But true to form, Bowden's corrections have been intertwined with the usual message of a new week.

Florida State is coming. Keep everything tuned into the Seminoles.

"It will be a great environment. I think it's a sellout. It's a TV game. I think they'll be excited to play," Bowden said. "(So) it doesn't surprise me to see kind of an upbeat tempo (at practice)."


Bowden said he still hasn't decided on a starting running back for Saturday, but will try to figure out the best way to fit four players into a three-man rotation.

His hope? Someone gets going early.

"You keep feeding it to them and hope one of them gets hot," he said. "Maybe one of them breaks a long one, and then you keep giving it to that guy."


During the questions about dealing with a loss, Bowden made reference to a statement by former President Bill Clinton about "compartmentalizing" the situation, dealing with the difficulties privately while continuing to lead without being distracted.

Asked if that was the first time he had ever quoted Clinton, Bowden - a staunch Republican - nodded his head and laughed.

"And probably the last, too," he said.

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