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. (http://www.independentmail.com/news/2006/dec/20/clemson-starter-doubtful-after-arrest/). 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 (http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/2007/04/28/gaines-adams-defensive-end-Clemson/).
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.