Sunday, September 14, 2008

Week 3 snapshot, SC growing, Clemson falling short....

Yeah, South Carolina lost a game to Vandy that it really needed. But from week 2 to week 3, the Gamecocks showed a lot of improvement. It looks like the Gamecocks' offensive line seemed to get a little cohesiveness in the second half of the Georgia game, and the team's offense found some of its identity in the pass.
South Carolina, and quarterback Chris Smelley (23 of 39 for 271 yards,) had struggled to find receivers to catch the ball other than Jared Cook and Kenny McKinley(injured.) But by the end of the game versus Georgia, wide receivers Mo Brown, Freddie Brown and Dion Lecorn had all made contributions. It seems Smelley was learning to look all over the field and WRs were getting open versus a good Bulldog defense. If that continues, the Gamecocks will be able to make up for the Vandy loss by taking a win over a team it will not be favored to beat. It's the SEC, which means a murderer's row and it will not be easy. But the Gamecocks showed they had heart - and a defense that has strength and talent - against Georgia. The Gamecocks also introduced freshman QB Stephen Garcia. With him in the mix, used in special situations, SC will only be more versatile as an offense.
If the Gamecocks learn and grow - and keeps its head up - the team will move in the right direction.
At Clemson, the Tigers have played an SEC foe and one from the ACC. The results have to be scary for the ever-hopeful Clemson fans, who talk of conference championships and BCS contention every off-season, only to be slammed into reality when the talk stops and the actual games begin.
What looks like a fair-to-middling Alabama squad, thoroughly dismantled a Tiger team, 34-10, that was penciled into the national picture by a slew of fawning, now egg-faced, pundits.
The bally-hooed backfield of James Davis and C.J. Spiller (0 yards rushing versus Bama) are constantly referred to as the top RB tandem in college football. What most leave out, is that "Thunder and Lightening" are not as effective as most teams' single back formations. And while Tiger QB Cullen Harper has been praised ad nauseam, he looks very average, even versus the poor teams that annually make up the bulk of Clemson's schedule.
Aside from the national embarrassment delivered to Tiger Head Coach Tommy Bowden by the Crimson Tide, Clemson returned to its usual band of weak sisters in week two. Padding its record, as is its custom, with a win over the Citadel, but the tigers did not look sharp.
A week later, it took Clemson three quarters to finally shake an N.C. State team that is clearly in the rebuilding stage.
The fact that the Tigers play in a very weak conference usually covers the sad truth that it is one of the weakest BCS schools in the country. And 2008 seems to be no different.
You can look for the tigers to feast on the down-trodden, but stumble against any opposition with half a heart and a few players.
The good news for Tiger fans, there are not many teams on Clemson's schedule with the resources and personnel a big school like Clemson can attract. In other words: Clemson's schedule is so weak, the Tigers can win most weeks just by showing up.
And for those looking to late November: if SC sustains the type of injuries it had in 07, the Tigers will have a chance to add it it win total versus SC. But if the Gamecocks can remain even relatively healthy, their team is a good bit ahead of Clemson, as far a college football on a major stage is concerned. And lucky for the Gamecocks, it gets to live like Clemson for the next two weeks, with games versus ACC-level opponents in Wofford and Alabama-Birmingham.
But if the Tigers and Gamecocks were to tee it up Sept. 20, I think we could assure that the Gamecocks would walk away with a convincing win.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Why are Clemson fans in a state of 'Shock' after 34-10 loss to Alabama?

Big T Blog
Sept. 3, 2008

For months, since it was announced that Clemson would oppose Alabama on Aug. 30, in Atlanta, there has been excitement. And that would have been the case with any major BCS program.
And the fervor grew as more and more pre-season college football publications gushed about the amount of talent that Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden has assembled. The longstanding boasts and promises that Bowden has made to IPTAY (Clemson’s athletic donors) about his recruiting prowess were finally making an impact with the regional, and eventually, the national media.
Despite the loss of linebackers Nick Watkins and Tremaine Billie from 2007, Clemson fans were under the belief the team would be stronger. Even the loss of another linebacker, the troubled Courtney Vincent, did not phase exuberant Clemson fans. The eventual banning of the academically struggling Vincent, who was allowed by Bowden to play in the Tigers’ loss in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta in 2007, was exacerbated by the decision of defensive end Phillip Merling to go to the National Football League. And that was just the defensive losses. The Tigers lost four its five starters on the offensive line.
How can you project such lofty heights for a team that lost so many standout starters? And that is not all. Clemson is a squad that mustered only a third-place finish in 2007 in the inept Atlantic Coast Conference? But don’t blame Clemson fans only for the traditional off-season euphoria that always seems to envelope Tigertown. Pollsters voted Clemson as the ninth-best team in college football.
Despite the weak logic of expecting so much with so little reason, TigerNation is shocked that Alabama kicked the team up and down the field, beating Clemson 34-10.
Bowden was so clueless as to what happened that he called colleagues in the coaching world, including Nick Saban, Alabama’s coach who drubbed his team, to ask what he did wrong.
While Bowden admitted he called to ask for help, he did not give many details regarding the answers. But famed South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier may give a little insight into what happened. In his weekly coach’s call-in show on Sept. 2, Spurrier said he read where members of the Clemson program were in "shock." The Head Ball Coach then talked about his Gamecocks’ 2007 loss to underdog Vanderbilt. He said people thought the Gamecocks were good because they had won a couple games. Spurrier then said his team lost because they were not a good team.In effect, he said the Gamecocks lost because the team was supposed to lose. And that goes right to the point with Clemson’s loss to Alabama.It should be no surprise the Tigers lost. Sure many pundits, and the Clemson friendly venues (like The State newspaper, Columbia, SC) told us Clemson is a primetime program, and would win big.But there are also those in this state who know Bowden and they have seen the work he has done at Clemson. Bowden has a marginal record versus the ACC, but there was no reason to believe Clemson would beat Alabama, if the Tide had improved any from its 6-6 campaign of 2007. In 10 years, Bowden’s teams have embarrassing losses that range from blowouts at the hands of Georgia, Virginia Tech and Texas Tech to inexplicable implosions to teams including Duke, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest.Versus Alabama, Clemson lost, and lost big, because that is where the program is. And what's more: regardless of this year's record, which will be greatly padded by many of the weakest opponents in college football, Clemson will get no better.
Under Bowden, Clemson is a mediocre program, not likely to ever win a game versus a top quality opponent, as long as Bowden is the coach.
If you believe otherwise, prepare to be shocked.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Spurrier won the state’s recruiting war in 2005

It was July 2005 and Steve Spurrier had been the head football coach at the University of South Carolina less than eight months. That’s when word got out that he had sent letters to six players telling them they would lose their scholarships. Those affected included two South Carolina high school products and both were recruited by the staff of former coach Lou Holtz.
In response to Spurrier’s action, the South Carolina High School Coaches Association is called Spurrier unethical.
The SCHCA said Spurrier's actions showed a “lack of commitment to recruited players.”
The SCHCA even requested that the state HS championship games be moved away from Williams-Brice to a location off the SC campus.
But the SCHCA’s group turned out to be big talkers, who balked when called on their bluff. Spurrier alluded to his suspicion that the loud-mouth coaches were put up to their squawking. His indications were that the whiners were minions of an opportunist Clemson program, that had a head coach in Tommy Bowden who would again take a backseat to a man, in Spurrrier, who had achieved much more than Bowden ever will. And that has proven out.
For Spurrier’s part he did not back down, he answered:
“There were some players the former staff had signed that we did not think would ever contribute much. And we had some walk-on players who actually were contributing more. So some of the high schoolers they got mad about it. I don't know what to say, but to me in life, you put people on scholarship who deserve it the most.”
And later in the month this report surfaced:
Spurrier awarded scholarships to two USC walk-ons: senior WR Michael Flint and junior long snapper Ike Crofoot.
Imagine that, giving scholarships to kids who earn them, not to those who are deemed entitled.
With that episode, three years ago, Spurrier sent a message to the establishment that had controlled South Carolina football. He told the powers-that-once-were that he is the one and only football coach at SC.
Not missing the chance to hoist his own opportunities, Bowden, who had been dominated in in-state recruiting by Lou Holtz, wasted no time.
With Holtz’s departure, Bowden was coming off a 6-5 season in which one of his players had punched a pinned S.C. player in the face and ignited a free-for-all that ended up costing Bowden some minor bowl. Considering Bowden’s record of flourishing only in small-time post-season venues, missing the bowl game was hard on Bowden and the story he was peddling to the Clemson faithful. Bowden needed some new hope to sell his ever-grumbling, orange-clad following on. Then he remembered.
On Feb. 19, 2001 the headline screamed:
`We got him baby! - acquisition of player Roscoe Crosby by Clemson University's football team
It took seven years, but Bowden was right. The rank-and-foul IPTAY members had forgotten all about the euphoria they had bought into before. Long forgotten were the promises that Bowden made on the backs of Crosby, Currie, Hall and Zimmerman.
Fast-forward. It’s 2008, and there still have been no championships at Clemson. But The State newspaper is making more promises, but this time it’s about Harper, Allen, Brown and Page. The Associated Press tells us: “The potential star power in Clemson's new class will only increase the pressure for championships on Bowden…..”
But Bowden has been there and he knows to pull out numbers when faced with unpleasant facts. He‘s always one point away or as he said on Wednesday: “The expectations were high when I got here. I've been on the hot seat three times" in nine seasons, Bowden said.
Yep, they’re all smiling and the cupboard is full of can’t-miss-blue-chip big-timers again. It’s got to be so, because the media tells them it is.
While Spurrier sat with a wry smile and said: “I don’t know if they grew up wanting to go to Clemson or what…..We missed on a couple of the guys after the season was over. (But) I think Clemson was going to get most of the guys they got regardless.”
And of course there are a couple good ones in Bowden‘s class, but you’ve got to wonder who he has in there just to make the SCHCA happy.
And remember what Spurrier said about his class: “But we’re really proud of the guys that came and we’re proud of the guys we’ve got.”
They call coach a straight shooter. With that and 2001 in mind, I’m guessing the Tigers will be ready to trade that “can’t-miss” gang at Clemson for the guys who can keep their scholarships for Spurrier.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Is it media scrutiny, not recruiting, that most affects a team?

This recruiting season has Clemson fans cocksure that their class of signees will finally lead them to that elusive ACC Championship they are promised year in and year out. But what those now-giddy fans forget, is that they’ve had a class, under Tommy Bowden, that brought them Roscoe Crosby and a near Top 10 finish in the rankings. That was six-or-so years ago, and it seems the lessons of the past cannot be found in the dreary but hopeful days of February of 2008.
The fact is, recruiting does matter, but it is not in the manner Tiger fans are trumpeting.
By the standards most commonly used (recruiting analysts) SC has done as well versus Clemson in recruiting, and many times the Gamecocks have done better. That has not translated into many wins head-to-head.
But what Clemson has been able to do (and SC has not) is keep its recruits. How has Tommy Bowden kept more players at Clemson than South Carolina? You tell me.
After the 2006 season, Duane Coleman was arrested for smoking marijuana. ( Coleman was a senior at Clemson, and one would have to be quite naïve to think he lit up his first joint after the last game of his final year. There is supposed to be drug testing of college athletes. How did Coleman stay on the team for years, and his pot smoking go undetected?
Then we have the case of Clemson standout Gaines Adams who admitted that he smoked pot in college (
This drug use, always discovered after the season, begs the question, who else is using illegal drugs on Clemson’s team, and not getting caught? And how are they getting away with it?
There are other examples of discipline issues at Clemson and little or no publicity. A Clemson player was shot in 2005, but an extraordinarily small amount of detail ever surfaced about the incident. There was a scant report in the Anderson Independent newspaper, a year or so after the shooting. It was a report on a weakly-related matter and revealed that several players were involved in a gang-related fight about the time of the shooting and the two were related.
Then there is the Roman Fry jet ski incident at a rich Clemson booster‘s luxury home, that has never been completely explained. He never even missed a practice.
Then you have South Carolina. Where at least three players: Cory Boyd, Emmanuel Cook and Daccus Turman were convicted in the media for crimes they never committed. In other words: The Gamecock players can do nothing, and get thoroughly investigated, while at Clemson, pot smoking, gang fighting go totally uninvestigated and unpunished.
What’s the point?
Over-publicizing player indiscretions leads to quick dismissals, and loss of valuable scholarship players. At SC, coaches are directed to take immediate action by judgmental media members and school administration, while the media yawns about over a bounty of dirty-looking dealings at Clemson. And the most routine questions are never even attempted.
While there is an extreme double-standard and different degree of scrutiny at SC, Steve Spurrier is changing things.
The Columbia Police Department and the media did tally a score in busting prized recruit Stephen Garcia for sipping a beer underage, but Spurrier, much to the chagrin of Bowden, is retaining his players.
And you have to believe even Bowden would admit, (IF he were honest) that Spurrier can take players several notches below Tommy Bowden’s recruits and spank Tommy over and over again.
If Spurrier can hold off the media and Gamecock-envy law enforcement in Columbia, Bowden’s alleged recruiting advantage will only serve to get him fired more quickly.
Not that Tiger fans want to hear that, but based on the past, they would be very smart to heed it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Reality Check for Gamecock Fans RE: Recruiting Worries!!!

BlogSpot News Service
From Staff Reports

How soon we forget. It was the end of a 2004 football season in which Clemson’s Bobby Williamson punched Gamecock QB Syvelle Newton in the face while the kid lay helplessly pinned beneath a pile of players. While Williamson’s cowardly blow to the face was caught on tape for all the world to see, USC, under the authority of the soon-departing Andrew Sorenson, opted to deny GamecockNation and its players, a bowl game appearance.
After the melee, the Gamecocks ended up suspending players that were part of recruiting classes that were highly coveted by the less-successful Clemson (in recruiting) program. And with intense scrutiny on the SC football team, along with Spurrrier’s adherence to high standards, players of legendary status, including Mo Thompson and Demetrius Summers were shown the door. Aside from the stars’ departure, promising players such as K.T. Mainord were disciplined with dismissal and Gamecock Great Cory Boyd was suspended. The fallout from the fiasco that followed the brawl Clemson started, charged SC Football Coach Steve Spurrier with the task that finds him years later, still recovering from. Not to say that Spurrier has not worked miracles with what he has had to deal with. The Head Ball Coach pieced together a respectable recruiting class in 2005, especially considering he had but a few weeks to catch programs years ahead of him. Of that class, players including: Jonathan Hanna; Shea McKeen; O.J. Murdock, Cade Thompson and Dakota Walker were unable to meet Spurrier’s standards for various reasons. Jarriel King still has yet to don the Garnet and Black.
And so it goes. Aside from wash-outs, Spurrier has seen devastating injuries to players including Marquee Hall, Jasper Brinkley, Nathan Pepper and Bobby Wallace, just to name a few. If you don’t think the route Spurrier has had to travel with that first recruiting class has been a tough one, make note that hardly any of Spurrier’s 2006 recruiting class is absent from the program. And except for some NCAA-approved recruits, that were blocked by (the soon-departing) Sorenson, about all of Spurrier’s 2007 recruiting class is still with him. Major injuries, at different times of the season have hurt Spurrier, but you cannot play in the SEC and not expect that.
Now, contrast the staying rate of Spurrier’s classes, to the dismissal rate of the previous staff. If you do that, and make note of the number of post-season honors Spurrier’s recruits received, you begin to see this picture developing.
An example: The Gamecocks began the 2007 football season with fifth-year senior QB, Blake Mitchell, suspended because he cut too many classes. Another top (and much-needed, veteran) defensive player, Jordin Lindsey, was suspended from the team for the year for academics. Neither player is a Spurrier recruit.
The point is this. Spurrier has been working out of a hole, without much leadership from upperclassmen, for three years. And he still may not be out of the dark because he has senior players, from the previous staff, who may not be getting the message yet.
Now compare Spurrier’s obstacles with his in-state rival. At Clemson, a program that has had the same coach for almost a decade, the local Police Department has not made an arrest of a Clemson football players since 2001 (and that was post-season of course.) A Clemson player charged with Driving Under the Influence is allowed to play. And one pleading guilty to an alcohol-related charge, involving a fatality, was allowed to negotiate down the offense, with little media scrutiny. And the players miss little or no playing time. Other serious offenses (a gang-fight) by players are handled by a student court, and scarcely make news, while players remain secure on the football team. And until post-season 2007, player dismissals for academics at Clemson were extremely rare. Thanks to either a cleanly run program (extremely doubtful) or crafty manipulation of the rules and media (probable) attrition, has not hampered the Tigers in the least. And still the team seems to be no better in Coach Tommy Bowden’s ninth year than it was in his second year.
In conclusion: When you consider all that Spurrier has dealt with in three years at South Carolina, it is a wonder he has had anything resembling success, but he has. And for anyone fretting over any recruiting deficiency you think you may perceive, take a closer look. Evidence is strong that things will get much better, regardless of who Spurrier signs in 2008. And that has to have all reason-based Gamecock football fans excited.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The “Next-To-Great” Tommy Bowden

The “Next-To-Great” Tommy Bowden
Does Tommy Bowden suffer from a complex born of being surrounded by greatness?

Blog Spot News

In early 2006, after a couple of coach-less programs desperately pursued Steve Spurrier, wanting him to leave South Carolina to revive their collapsed football teams, the USC administration increased Spurrier's salary. It was after his first year, a year in which he had won at Tennessee and beaten Florida, fielding a team that lost loads of talent that was recruited by former coach Lou Holtz (for discipline reasons.) In connection with Spurrier’s upgrade in pay, Tommy Bowden, in effect, quipped: “At South Carolina, they give you a raise if you win seven games, here at Clemson, you win seven games and they’ll fire you.” For the most part, the media laughed and dutifully printed Bowden’s claim without vetting it. Of course it was untrue. Bowden had maxed out at six wins in 1999; seven wins in 2001; seven wins in 2002 and six wins in 2004. Fact is, when Bowden made the derogatory comment toward Spurrier and USC, he had won only seven or fewer games a majority of his seasons at Clemson. And he had not only been retained by Clemson, he had been given a raise with a multi-million dollar buyout clause in his contract.While Bowden’s declaration would have been classless, even it were based in truth, you have to ask: Why does a man in his position feel he must lie to draw bravado and attention to himself? (And that is not Bowden’s only looseness with the truth: See the Tony Nelson and Eric Young.) Considering what we‘ve seen Bowden do: I think if we look around him we can answer the question about his less-than-candid nature.His whole life, Tommy Bowden has lived in the shadow of his father, Florida State University’s Bobby Bowden. Bobby Bowden is one of college football’s greatest coaches. Bobby Bowden has earned a spot in many a big game. And on some of those occasions, when faced with a challenge, Bobby Bowden stepped up and won the “BIG” game. His Seminoles were National Champions in 1993 and 1999. In addition to his championships, Bobby Bowden dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference for a decade, winning championships, seemingly with the least of effort.Though he is but a shell of himself now, many would argue that Bobby Bowden’s accomplishments are no doubt the reason Tommy Bowden, who has failed to win even one championship in the hapless ACC, has been given a considerable amount of cache as a college football coach.While dwarfed by football greatness in his family, it is not the only place the diminutive Tommy Bowden finds himself lacking.In 1999, after Brad Scott engineered one of the most miserable coaching jobs in the history of South Carolina football, Lou Holtz took over as the head coach of the Gamecocks. At that moment, Bowden went from a big fish in a small pond, that had contained only a blubbering and incompetent whale as competition, to Mr. Nobody, paling to “Football Legend Lou Holtz.” The popular Holtz, like Bobby Bowden had not choked in his big moment, and he won a National Championship in 1988. A feat Tommy Bowden could not even dream of. While Tommy Bowden was able to defeat Holtz more times than not, Bowden still failed to win big games as he and Holtz coached in the same state. In fact, it was not until Bowden’s ninth year at Clemson (2007) that he was able to match Holtz’s best two years at SC. Both Holtz and Bowden amassed win totals of 17 in two years. Holtz did it in years two and three at SC and Bowden did not do it until years eight and nine. Still: Holtz won two New Year’s Day bowl in those years, while Bowden has lost two bowl games, and has never won an NYD bowl game.Exit Holtz: and who shows up on the scene at South Carolina” the aforementioned Steve Spurrier. Another of the greatest coaches in college football history. And like Holtz and Bobby Bowden, Spurrier shined at one of his most-opportune moments, winning the National Championship in 1996.In addition to his stature, Spurrier is also building a contender at South Carolina. Something Holtz, given his energy level, was not able to maintain. But with Spurrier’s drive and determination, it seems Bowden will again be overshadowed by a great man. And with the success Spurrier is having at building the Gamecock program, Bowden is likely to be beaten by the “Head Ball Coach” for the rest of his tenure at Clemson.While Bowden must look up and wish he could be, the ACC seems to dip in quality each year. Yet Bowden has failed, even when a crown has been virtually laid at his feet.And now James Davis, the possibly highest-quality running back Clemson has ever had, is leaving Bowden. Clemson, even with the talented Davis, was pretty much an under-performing offense, so it lessens the big-game opportunity for Bowden in the future. Yes: there is something to be said for Bowden meeting a level of mediocrity annually in an ever-slipping ACC, but the fact that he has stumbled so visibly when his chance was handed to him, will likely haunt and scar Bowden. To be sure, Bowden’s performance has launched his legacy as the best coach ever to stand “Next-To-Greatness.”