As I sat in Lane Stadium during the 4th quarter last Thursday night, I knew that the talk in the coming days would be a little negative.
I can hardly stand to log onto a computer or read a newspaper following a loss. It is a weird quirk of nature for me, and I know I am not alone but I suspect I’m not in the majority.
But as I left Blacksburg, I had a feeling that the Internet world was going to be in meltdown mode and I decided I was not going to subject myself to it.
So I didn’t. Until Saturday. I did not read a newspaper or an Internet article all day Friday. I even found a way to stay busy long enough Friday afternoon that I could not do my normal Friday interview with WCCP’s 104.9 FM’s Mickey Plyler. I made it clear to Saturday morning when I thought I would test the waters.
You would think the wounds would have healed by Saturday, but in some cases they had not. While most of us moved on and looked forward to what can still be a Championship year, some still have a Blacksburg hangover. So why does every loss have to be something bigger than it really is?
What, exactly, was the loss on Thursday night? Well, for starters, Virginia Tech is a good football team. Beyond that there are a handful of reasons why Clemson lost on Thursday night. Those reasons are not that we have a terrible quarterback, a terrible offensive coordinator, a terrible team at tackling, dissention among the ranks, a bad motivator as Head Coach, yada, yada, yada.
The reason is much simpler than that. The Tigers got beat. End of story.
Not every single loss is the foreboding of a gruesome decay of Clemson football. It seems like it, even to me, when it is happening before your eyes. But the next morning I wake up and try to look beyond the disappointment of the loss towards the reality of what lies ahead. And that is what most of you do as well.
But some of you hang on to this theory that if you don’t win a football game there is something inherently wrong with the coaching staff and/or players. The finger pointing for a loss aims at somebody, anybody, to give some type of reason why we lost the football game. Some feel there has to be a specific and major reason for the loss beyond the very simple truth.
What is that truth? Sometimes, you lose football games. Things don’t go as planned and you lose football games. That’s it. No conspiracy. No magic bullet or 2nd gunman on the Grassy Knoll. A loss is sometimes just a loss.
I’ve left the Blacksburg loss behind…maybe the Maryland game this Saturday can help some of you do the same.
Speaking of Blacksburg
The facilities at Virginia Tech are outstanding to say the least. VT was the only stadium in the ACC that I had not seen the insides of the athletic facilities (locker rooms, offices, media areas, luxury boxes, etc.). Going into the visit in Blacksburg, Florida State and North Carolina were the top two in the ACC based on my opinion. VT probably fits in between the two and is very close to being the best in the ACC. While what we have done in the WEZ is outstanding, fans need to remember that it is only the first step and we have a LONG way to go to be at the top level of the ACC in facilities.
We have obviously upset the football Gods by earning back-to-back 12:00 noon home kickoffs. I still find it odd that, as a top 25 football team, we get either a night game or a noon kickoff each week. What does ABC at 3:30 have against us?
I have no idea who threw the bottle that whacked Coach Bowden upside of the head Thursday night. I find it interesting that one newspaper in Virginia said it was a Clemson fan. In reality, it does not matter because it was an idiotic thing to do in the first place. But I thought the “real” media was there to report facts and not rumor. You know that the media pride themselves on being noble with the truth, right? Seems to me this paper cast a stone without one shred of evidence to the accusation. Clemson fan or Hokie fan or non-fan…they should be arrested, charged, and prosecuted. But once again our media speaks out of both sides of their mouth.
I find myself each November getting excited about Clemson basketball, and I’m not sure why. I feel almost like a South Carolina football fan, getting excited about the possibility of being competitive only to have my hopes dashed once reality sets in. Now I’m not suggesting that Oliver Purnell’s team is going to win the conference, but I do have a feeling this team is going to take a step forward from last year and possibly make the NCAA tournament.
Amazing Realization From 1984
The 1984 game with South Carolina, admittedly, was a tough loss to swallow. It was the first loss for Clemson in orange pants and it was the first loss at home in over 4 years.
The defining moment of the game (other than when Clemson had 12 men on the field when South Carolina missed the game winning extra point) was when South Carolina QB Mike Hold held the ball out in front of William Perry as the Gamecocks ran off the clock.
A painting of Hold dropping the ball at Perry's feet sold 1000's of copies and became iconic for Gamecock fans across the state. You will find few Gamecock fans that will describe a more enjoyable game against Clemson in the history of the program.
Someone on the Tigernet message boards this week produced a youtube video of some highlights that showed that game from 1984. I realized something amazing while watching that video that I did not notice while attending the game.
The final seconds were ticking down on the clock as Hold called a play to run out the clock and preserve the Gamecock victory. The loss was demoralizing to our fans and team. Hold drops the ball at the feet of our senior nose tackle that has played his last game in DV. Hold has embarrassed Perry and wiped Clemson's nose in the loss.
What does William Perry do in the face of this humiliation and bravado?
William Perry hands the ball to the official after picking it up off the ground.
That, my friends, sums it up. That is the difference between Clemson football and South Carolina football. All in one split second.