Tiger Fans Not Happy About Bowl Ban

by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON -- A loud roar echoed all over Clemson's Memorial Stadium last Saturday when the public address announcer told fans to have a safe trip to the Tigers' apparent 28th bowl game.

Students, alumni and fans were all excited after Clemson's 29-7 victory over rival South Carolina secured the Tigers' sixth straight bowl berth despite a 1-4 start to the 2004 season.

That roar, however, turned into a whisper by Tuesday afternoon as fans and students got the news their Tigers were staying home for the holidays.

"It's a real shame we're going to miss out on a bowl," said Shannon Calloway, a senior architecture major at Clemson. "It would have been great to go to especially since I'm probably going to go to grad school some where next year. I probably will not get another opportunity for a few years to see another (Clemson) football game." Clemson was denied a sixth straight bowl appearance under head coach Tommy Bowden when athletic director Terry Don Phillips told the media on Monday the Tigers will not accept a bowl invitation. The absence from post-season play was a punishment to the team for its part in last Saturday's bench-clearing brawl with USC.

"I understand where Terry Don and President Barker are coming from. They want the University to be well respected and to be a top 20 university, but it sucks," said sophomore Dan Ubilla. "I guess I don't know all the details about the fight, but at some point you're just protecting yourself and your protecting your fellow (teammates).

"It is just terrible. I almost feel like South Carolina stole it from us." The fight started after an incomplete pass on fourth down-and-11 with 5:48 left in the game.

After that play, Clemson defensive end Bobby Williamson stayed on top of USC quarterback Syvelle Newton a little longer than necessary. USC offensive lineman Chris White came to his quarterback's rescue and pushed Williamson off, starting a scuffle that had coaches from both sidelines come to break things up.

But by that time, things got out of hand. South Carolina wide receiver Matthew Thomas blindsided Clemson's Justin Miller, and Miller came back and threw a punch of his own at Thomas.

Gamecock defensive end Charles Silas broke away from a law enforcement officer and tackled Clemson's Anthony Waters in the east end zone, sparking several more players to get into, including USC and Clemson running backs Daccus Turman and Duane Coleman.

Helmets went flying off at that point with running back Yusef Kelly throwing a USC helmet into the crowd, where Clemson fans displayed it proudly.

"It was the right move," said fellow sophomore Garrett Scarborough about the football teams' ban from a post-season bowl game. "Especially after the way ESPN bad mouthed us and South Carolina the night after the game. It made us look really bad.

"I think by making this decision it makes (Clemson) look a little better and a little more classier." But Phillips and Barker both implied the move wasn't a public relations thing, but more of a way to set an example for future teams and young people not just in South Carolina, but every where.

"We made our decision independent of anybody else. This was the recommendation I made to (Clemson President James Barker)," said Phillips at Monday's press conference.

"This is more than just a football issue. The circumstances of what happened Saturday deals with issues of what our university is about. Our university is about having an environment that fosters character and integrity, and conducts itself with class and dignity.

"We have that duty and obligation not only to our student athletes, but to our students in general." However, recent Clemson graduate Amanda Ibrahim says the bowl ban doesn't make her feel any better about what happened on Saturday. In fact, she says it gives the season a bad ending.

"We're kind of sad about the whole situation," she said. "It is hard to see the year end like that, especially with it being (South Carolina coach) Lou Holtz's last game.


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"It would have been nice to see both teams go to a bowl since they did qualify and worked hard at the end to get the chance to do that. It's hard on the fans too. Everyone wants to see another game and go to a bowl, and enjoy the next couple of weeks looking forward to it." Scarborough said the biggest disappointed is how the brawl and the ramifications from it have overshadowed the fact Clemson beat USC for the third straight year and the seventh time in the last eight meetings. A fact he says will eventually allow Tiger nation to feel a little better.

"We still played a good game against South Carolina. I think that will help.

That leaves another good memory of a very, very good win over them the last two years," he said. "The fight was interesting to say the least... It overshadows the game a little bit.

"I mean definitely looking back on it, it was the highlight of the game. It took away from Lou Holtz's last game, obviously, but (the win) was still a good end to the season." It just wasn't the ending Tiger fans were expecting.

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