CLEMSON - With former Alabama head coach Gene Stallings and more than 300 high school coaches looking on, Clemson went through its final practice of the week in preparation for today's major scrimmage.
Head coach Tommy Bowden said the tone of the practice was upbeat from start to finish, something he expected with such a large crowd gathered.
"They were pretty enthusiastic and spirited because we had a lot of high school coaches out there, and everybody likes to perform in front of an audience," he aid. "The wind makes it difficult. It was cold and it was windy, but again I think the fact that there were coaches out there made them more enthusiastic than had there not been."
The coaches were on hand for Bowden's annual clinic. Stallings was the guest speaker at the gathering which followed Friday's practice.
Speaking to the media following practice, Stallings said he had followed Bowden's career for a long time, whether Bowden realized it or not.
"I know his daddy really well, so I've kept up with how Tommy has been doing," Stallings said. "I'd say he's done well. Let's face it. Anytime you go undefeated at Tulane (as Bowden did in 1998) you've accomplished something."
Stallings also had the opportunity to renew acquaintances with Clemson wide receivers coach Dabo Swinney. Swinney played for Stallings at Alabama when the Crimson Tide won the national championship following the 1992 season.
Later, the veteran coach - draped in a Clemson windbreaker - had a few words for the Tiger players before heading to the clinic in the McFadden Building.
"He's been an NFL coach for 18 (years) - head coach and assistant - and then he's been a college coach for 22 and won a national championship," Bowden said. "He's been around great defense, great environments. He had some really good things to say to them.
"It was a pleasure for us to have him and for those players to hear him talk."
As for the high school coaches, Friday's attendance was a marked increase from last year's clinic.
"A few more wins will do that for you," Bowden joked.
Doug Ward was one of the attendees. Ward, who coaches Tug Valley High School, located just outside of Williamson, W.Va., said it was an opportunity to learn more about Bowden's style of offense.
"We already do some of the things he does in limited form," Ward said. "I thought this would be a great chance to pick up more of the offense and see how much of it we can run back home."
Clemson's scrimmage today at Death Valley is scheduled to get underway at approximately noon. It is free and open to the public.
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.