The last words that I broadcast last Saturday morning on the Tiger Pre Game Show were simple and to the point. With all the talk about whether this team was good enough to win the Atlantic Division and play for the ACC Championship in Jacksonville, it was time to prove it.
Championship teams don’t beat a good team on the road and then struggle the next week at home against a bad team. If this team was going to be different, it needed to prove it Saturday.
It was proven.
I’ve watched my fair share of whippings in the past 30 years in Death Valley, but the one Clemson inflicted on North Carolina Saturday was right up there with the most thorough of them all. Make no mistake. North Carolina is not a good football team. But they were a team that was playing for their coach’s head and playing with a chip on their shoulder after a hapless win against Furman the week before. They had plenty to gain by giving Clemson fits.
Clemson never allowed it.
This win was so uncharacteristic of Bowden’s previous teams. Clemson has had a “problem” of not blowing out teams that should have been blown out. There were a few lopsided wins in 2000 and the never-to-forget beat down of South Carolina in 2003. But more times than not Clemson has beaten teams like North Carolina by 20 points or so. A win is a win is a win. But whipping somebody is nothing but pure pleasure. And it sure was nice to see it on Saturday.
Champions don’t just beat bad football teams, they whip them. The two bad football teams that Clemson has played in 2006 have lost by a combined score of 106-13. In those two games, Clemson out-gained the opponents 876 to 413 total yards. That’s what you call taking care of your business.
ACC Divisional Race
The Atlantic Division is going to be a roller coaster this year, so trying to map out what has to happen for Clemson to play in Jacksonville is really a waste of time at this point. Clemson is in contention. So is BC and FSU and Wake and….well you get the point. Winning will take care of most of the scenarios that are possible at this point, so that should be (and is) the focus. Right now, there is no margin of error and Clemson must win out in the league to have a shot. My early guess is that a margin of error may occur as the season plays out. There are several reasons why I feel that way, but the primary one revolves around the fact that all of these teams in the Atlantic Division can be beaten on any given day. And that creates a wild ride that trying to predict or map out is simply fruitless.
The Media Is Bumbling Again
I guess I am going to have to have a weekly section dedicated to calling out the media for their bumbling, as it seems this is becoming a weekly rant. First on the chopping block is The State newspaper, which I have steadfastly said does the best job of covering Clemson football than either of the two local newspapers (Greenville News and Anderson Independent). But their “Bowden Pressure Meter” that is displayed prominently on their Clemson page in the sports sections is simply silly. I could list out the reasons why having a pressure meter for Bowden in the first place is ridiculous, but most of you already know those reasons. But having a paper in this state place this flaming propaganda in their paper shows a lack of class at its best and downright stupidity at its worst.
There has also been chatter on Internet web sites and through the national media (both print and television) about how bad the ACC is in football this year. Any writer that tries to encapsulate an entire season after three weeks is foolish to say the least. But let’s assume the ACC is down this year (an easy argument can be made that it will be when the season is over). Don’t listen to those that will take their shots. You see, very few writers gave the ACC credit last year for being possibly the best conference in the nation. Very few talked about how many players the ACC had drafted to the NFL compared to other leagues. The ACC remains the redheaded stepchild of the SEC in terms of prestige when it comes to typing heads that cover the sport. So a writer’s credibility is lacking when they take shots at the ACC this year IF they failed to recognize the past two years and how good the ACC was. I could personally care less if the ACC stinks or not. I pull for Clemson. But I find it comical that so many will take shots at a conference without giving that same conference its due when it deserves it.
Just As Good As Ring Of Honor
Major thanks go to the Clemson Athletic Department for getting Danny Ford on the façade of Memorial Stadium. After much debate, rankling, misunderstanding, and prejudice, the right thing was done. Coach Ford, for various reasons, did not fit the official criteria for the Ring of Honor at Clemson. The political quagmire that would result in having Coach Ford inducted into the Ring of Honor was obviously too large to overcome. And that is not saying that Coach Ford, himself, was not partly to blame for the hesitancy in putting his name up in Memorial Stadium. Let us not forget that Ford openly campaigned for the job at Clemson that eventually would be given to Coach Bowden. That was AFTER he publicly ripped his President while coaching at Clemson. One can rationally understand how difficult it may be to recognize Ford while Bowden tries to build his own successes. You can also understand the hesitancy from the academic side of the University in publicly praising Ford with such an honor. But inducting the 1981 National Championship team coached by Danny Ford seems a great compromise. The 1981 team, rightfully so, deserves that recognition. And, of course, Coach Ford deserves it as well. This is a great example of how a compromise can please everybody. Ford’s everlasting legacy is those players and that team. While Ford went on to coach Clemson for 9 years after the National Championship, I think it is fitting that Ford’s name on the Memorial Stadium facade is attached with the 1981 National Championship team forever.
Thank You For The Money
The Allen N. Reeves Recruiting Center was dedicated this past Saturday, and many thanks should go the Reeves family for their donation. Thanks is also in order for the 1981 National Championship team for their $1 million gift to the West End Zone.
Has a Clemson football team ever looked past an opponent in anticipation for playing Wake Forest? It seems almost absurd, but I find my mind drifting to Winston Salem and the undefeated Deacons instead of looking at Louisiana Tech. Is it possible that Wake is a game people wait weeks to occur? What has this world come to?