Sunday, August 31, 2003

In the aftermath, media negativity explodes

Virtually every press account of Saturday's 30-0 whipping by Georgia was unrelentingly negative. Here goes:

THE GAME STORY: "Smashed in the mouth," says The State; "Dawgs' Day Afternoon," says The Greenville News; "Georgia deals Clemson shutout," says the Anderson Independent-Mail; "Tigers scoreless against rival in home opener," says the Charlotte Observer (and by default every other Knight-Ridder paper in the country); "Georgia shuts out Clemson," says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; and "Clemson no match for high-flying Bulldogs," says the Athens Banner-Herald, which also had the best lead for its game story:

Georgia's thrown-together defense threw Clemson all over the field Saturday, powering the No. 11 Bulldogs to a rousing season-opening win and emptying Death Valley of all but the angriest fans.

That pretty much sums it up.

THE STATS: Here's a complete statistical summary of the game.

GAME ANALYSIS: The ridiculous play-calling of coach Tommy Bowden gets raked over the coals here, and Bowden's shaky job status is explored in this column by The Greenville News' Bart Wright. The killer lines:

He called all the plays, and when he walked off the field, he carried the offensive burden with him on his shoulders.

For this, he will always remember his 50th game as Clemson head coach, and for this, and others like it, the odds are extremely long that he will be around for another 50.

Or even another year. There is no controversy on this matter. Without a major turnaround in the next three months, Tommy Bowden will be out of a job.

Augusta Chronicle columnist Scott Michaux writes about the potential psychic damage the loss could wreak on the Tigers:

You can preach all you want about opening games and long seasons, but Clemson took Saturday's crushing 30-0 loss to Georgia like it was a death sentence in Death Valley.

"We're not going to recover from this," said senior linebacker John Leake, the man who labeled this a must-win for the Tigers just five days before. "It's going to be in the back of our heads all year long."

Clemson players have had to live with one gut-wrenching defeat after another the past two years. But their worst defeat since their last defeat eight months ago seemed particularly deflating.

Ken Burger of the Charleston Post & Courier continues the death-penalty theme:

Now in his fifth season at Clemson, the consensus is that Bowden's job is on the line this season.

But as the orange throng started departing the stadium in the waning minutes here Saturday, that big goose egg on the scoreboard began to look a lot like a noose around Bowden's neck.

Other than the dangling participle in the first sentence, that's a good point.

The Anderson Independent-Mail also has a piece on superstar defensive back Justin Miller getting badly burned by Georgia receiver Fred Gibson (that's also discussed here), and another story on the Tigers' offensive ineptitude. (More on the poor performance in the running game is here and here.)

THE PUKING INCIDENT: The State's Ron Morris leads off his column with it, and it's the lead item in this notebook from the Anderson Independent-Mail.

NEXT WEEK: Clemson hosts Division I-AA Furman, which defeated Elon 24-7. On paper, this should be an easy win for the Tigers, but, as ESPN's Kenny Mayne says, they don't play games on paper, they play them inside little TV sets. (Except for this one, which won't be televised, so I guess they'll play it inside little radios.)

But Clemson has got to be emotionally crushed after such a humiliating loss. It's within the realm of possibility that the Paladins could pull an upset. If that happens, you can be sure Bowden will be gone by the following Monday.

And then what?

ACC ROUNDUP: Virginia rolled over Duke 27-0 Saturday, but Matt Schaub, the Cavaliers' Heisman candidate quarterback, injured his shoulder early in the first quarter and didn't return. He'll undergo tests today to determine whether he'll be able to play next week at South Carolina. (Speaking of the Gamecocks, they squeaked out a 14-7 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette. Not a very impressive win.)

Florida State thumped North Carolina 37-0 (good), Wake Forest upset Boston College 32-28, and N.C. State crushed Western Carolina 59-20.

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