CLEMSON, SC - Clemson returned its small college town status Sunday.
Sometime in the wee hours of Sunday morning the last car pulled away from Death Valley and went home. Gone are the hundreds of reporters in town to cover Bowden vs. Bowden. Gone are the dozens of ESPN cameras that caught every angle of Clemson's 17-14 loss to No. 1 Florida State.
Tommy Bowden has the welcome mat out for any of them if they want to come back. He figures this week was the best thing to happen to Clemson since he arrived.
"I would like to play the number one team in the nation again with coast to coast coverage," said Bowden. "I wouldn't mind that for a couple more weeks."
Florida State coach Bobby Bowden might have given his son exactly what he needs to eventually beat him - enough publicity to get into the home of recruits across the nation.
According to Tommy Bowden, that's exactly what Saturday's game came down to - recruiting.
Clemson ran out of tricks against Florida State in the second half. The Tigers faced third-and-one or two yards twice in the second half. With nothing up his sleeve, Tommy Bowden had to face Florida State's talent with what he had on the field.
"When somebody has to get that extra yard athletically, you can only get it by making a great play," said Bowden.
"That's when it becomes a game of athletes against athletes. And recruiting takes over."
Clemson's offense gained nearly 200 yards in the first half against the Seminoles. In the second half Florida State brought more players from the corners to contain quarterback Woody Dantzler, who ran for 58 yards in the first half.
The result: Clemson gained just 70 total yards in the second half. The Tigers did not cross midfield until the final drive of the game. A couple of penalties on Florida State and a trick play took Clemson into Florida State territory.
Clemson faced fourth-and-1 at the Florida State 25 with just over two minutes left. Bowden sent in Tony Lazzara to attempt a 41-yard field goal to tie the game. The kick was partially blocked by FSU's Tay Cody, who rushed from Clemson's left side. Cody came in unblocked as Lazzara was kicking back toward his left.
"I don't know if it I want it to go down to a field goal on the last play of the game again," said Bowden.
Most of the 86,200 in Death Valley fell silent. And after a few hours of clogged roads out of Clemson, things returned to normal. Bobby Bowden and Florida State are still on the road to the national championship and Tommy Bowden is trying to figure out a way to catch up with his dad.
"We tried everything imaginable to be successful," he said. "We couldn't counter. We couldn't make them miss and couldn't sustain blocks. They were bigger, stronger, faster."
With a few more Bowden Bowls and some more publicity for his team, Tommy Bowden hopes that will change.
Second-team cornerback Darrel Crutchfield is likely out for the season with
a torn ACL suffered while on kick coverage Saturday night against Florida
State. Crutchfield will be re-examined Monday by team doctors to determine
the extent of the injury. He played in every game this season with most of
his playing time coming against N.C. State and Marshall