Recruiting on Bowden's mind on first day of bowl practice

by - Correspondent -
The Tigers returned to practice on Saturday and worked out for 2 hours without pads in shorts.

Bowl Practice Photo Gallery

CLEMSON, SC -- Clemson coach Tommy Bowden believes he's recruiting against a myth - an urban legend.

Somewhere along the line someone started the story that the Southeastern Conference is better than the Atlantic Coast Conference. It might have been Bowden himself during his days at Auburn when he was recruiting against Florida State.

Now Bowden is fighting on the other side and he's wants every talented high school football player to look at the situation objectively.

Is the Southeastern Conference better than the Atlantic Coast Conference? Bowden has the evidence under his arms when he walks into high schooler's homes.

"The perception in the media is that the SEC is the dominant conference," he said. "But you start breaking down statistics and you say, 'Wait a minute. Is it really?'"

Bowden's big into statistics and getting past the hype. He even pays attention to point spreads every now and then.

His team is favored in the Peach Bowl by a couple of points against Mississippi State, an SEC team with a 9-2 record. Clemson finished the season 6-5 against one of the toughest schedules in the nation.
Bowden figures it's a point in his favor that the oddsmakers think Clemson should beat Mississippi State.

"They're from a football conference," he said. "Why would we be favored? We won six games. They won nine. Can anyone figure that one out? I though the SEC was the toughest conference in America."

Head to head, over the past two years, the ACC has won eight of ten meetings. In-state rivalries have helped the ACC. Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech have beaten rivals South Carolina, Florida and Georgia twice in the past two years. The other ACC wins came when Virginia beat Auburn in 1998 and N.C. State beat South Carolina this year.

Georgia beat Virginia in the Peach Bowl last year and Tennessee beat Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl last year to provide the SEC with its two wins.

"They players hear it all the time," he said. "A lot of the players are from Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. They hear a lot of the SEC versus ACC comparisons. The addition of Florida State has upgraded the caliber of football in the ACC. It used to be a non-factor. Now it's a factor and so it comes up in recruiting and you say, 'Wait a minute'."

Bowden practiced his team Saturday for the first time in preparation for the Peach Bowl on Dec. 30. But recruiting is on his mind. Running backs coach Burton Burns showed up late for practice. "Burton was recruiting a great tailback," Bowden said.

Several of the assistants will be at the practices for the Shrine Bowl Monday and Tuesday as well. Clemson will start practicing again Wednesday. The Tigers will practice seven more times before meeting in Atlanta on the 26th.

In the mean time, Bowden will continue to fight the urban legend.

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