Friday, March 31, 2006

Clemson's James Davis can get things done

The Charleston Post and Courier has a nice profile of running back James Davis, who has developed into a real leader (and recruiter) for the Tigers.

Davis and C.J. Spiller running behind the most experienced offensive line in the ACC. I can't wait to see it.

* Taylor is scary good: takes a look at Rendrick Taylor, a player with so much potential that Clemson created a position just for him. And once again, you can get a look at Taylor right here.

* Spring football guide available: You can download a pdf of the spring football media guide right here.

* Eason down the road: Former Clemson player Nick Eason, who plays for the Cleveland Browns, is profiled here.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

It's official: Were longshots for the national title!

Six Degrees of Bowden examines the odds, and still lays a C-note on the Tigers to take it all. A truly scary photo of receiver Rendrick Taylor is posted as proof. (Taylor, by the way, will have multiple roles in Clemson's offense. A guy that big who can do that much? Now that's scary.)

* Defense looking solid: Here's yet another story on Clemson's defense, which appears to be ahead of the offense in spring drills. That theme is echoed in this overview of spring practice.

* Gaddis on the corner: Clemson's C.J. Gaddis has switched back to cornerback, and boy, is he happy.

* Another fast kid: Here's a story about Clemson signee Crezdon Butler of Asheville, N.C. Butler owns the fastest time in the 100 in North Carolina's prep ranks this year.

* Ticket prices: Here's another story on higher ticket prices at Clemson.

* Bowden speaks: Here's Clemson's coach on spring workouts.

* Influential offense: The Sporting News is reporting that Ohio State coach Jim Tressel has sent coaches to Clemson, among other schools, to gather information on how to run a spread formation.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Practice resumes; Bowden uses lame 'SportsCenter' cliche

Clemson resumed spring workouts on Monday, and coach Tommy Bowden praised the performance of tight end Akeem Robinson by saying, "You can't stop him. You can only contain him." To which Bowden added: "Sweet sassy molasssy! When it comes to the tight end position, we are NOT gonna pay a lot for THAT muffler! Boo-YAH!"

For another update on spring practice, read this. It seems quarterback Will Proctor spent his entire spring break working out with an NFL conditioning specialist. I'm not sure what that means, but it sounds impressive.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Clemson's offense gets some praise says we'll be OK even without Charlie Whitehurst calling plays. The reasons? Our entire offensive line is back, as is our rushing attack. And we had a great signing season. So maybe by the end of the season, we won't be average anymore.

* Adams is ready: The Anderson Independent (watch out, it may be behind a sign-in wall) profiles defensive end Gaines Adams as he prepares for his senior season.

* The Movement II? The Sporting News says Clemson vs. Georgia is a game that should take place every year. I think so, too, and this guy would agree.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Rob Spence gets some love from Fox Sports

Rich Cirminiello of rates the best assistant coaches in big-time football conferences. Clemson's Rob Spence is ranked as the best offensive coordinator in the ACC.

* Perry elected to Hall of Fame: That's right. Former Clemson great and all-around pop-culture icon William "Refrigerator" Perry is now a member of the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame. He'll be inducted with an elite class that includes Tony Atlas, Bret "Hitman" Hart, the late Eddie Guererro, The Blackjacks, Verne Gagne, "Sensational" Sherri, and "Mean" Gene Okerlund.

What a proud moment for the Clemson athletics family.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Clemson launches virtual tour of facilities

This is pretty cool. It allows you to take a 360-degree tour of Clemson's athletic facilities.

* Buzz-worthy players: ESPN's Bruce Feldman mentions Clemson's Jacoby "Fastest Human I've Ever Seen" Ford.

* Last chapter of the Chicken Chronicles: He's right. I'm done.

I couldn't get his head out of his ass, so I just cut it off.

You gotta love the Chicken Man. After getting his ass kicked, he "declares victory" and retires from the field.

And he's about to go 0-for-2, and it ain't even football season yet!

It's quite sad, really. I kinda feel sorry for him.

But then again, he is a Cock lover. He should be used to it by now.

UPDATE: He's STILL going at it! He just compared Clemson fans to racists!

There's an old saying, I think from P.J. O'Rourke, that goes: "The modern-day definition of a racist is anyone who is winning an argument with a liberal." Substitute "Cock fan" for liberal, and I think you've got Mr. Chicken nailed.

Other than that, his iron-clad argument seems to be that "we suck."

Yeah, well, if we suck, and we own his ass, where does that put his team in the college football pecking order? Oh, never mind. Just Google the phrase "This is South Carolina Football." It tells you all you need to know.

UPDATE: I wish to apologize to my readers for wallowing in the ditch with this guy. It seems I may have ended up as dirty as he is. For the record, I don't hold any unusual hatred for Gamecock fans as a group. I've seen some jackasses in garnet and black at games in Columbia, but then again, I've seen jackasses in Carolina blue, Georgia red and silver, and LSU purple and gold, too. And, sadly, I've got friends who are UNC fans who've spoken of bad experiences in Death Valley.

Hell, most of my family in S.C. are USC fans, a good friend of mine went to grad school there, and a childhood friend got his undergrad degree in Columbia. What I can't stand are shit-talking, hard-core fans of ANY team who are so blinded by partisanship that they make ridiculous, sweeping assertions about their opponents and resort to vicious, ugly attacks ("Clemson fans think like racists") to justify the correctness of their position. At the end of the day, it's just sports. Perspective, please.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A writer's Christmas wish: Clemson as '06 ACC champs

Tom Dienhart, who writes for The Sporting News, had this to say in his way-early wish list for Christmas 2006:

League titles for Arizona State (Pac-10), Texas Tech (Big 12), Auburn (SEC), Iowa (Big Ten), West Virginia (Big East) and Clemson (ACC).

May all your wildest dreams come true, Tom.

* Rod Gardner re-signs with Green Bay: The former Clemson receiver has had a spotty pro career. But he'll always be remembered for a very special play in 2001 against the Gamecocks:

I think tears are still running down this guy's beak. Oh yeah, I forgot. He's OK with endless humiliation on the football field. It's our FANS he can't stand.

Hey, speaking of my buddy, he's got a response up to my last post. I'm not impressed, but he sure is!

Bonus: After I complained about him not providing a direct link to the post he was attempting to refute, he accuses me of trying to drive my traffic higher and brags about how big his, um, stat counter is.


Have you finished laughing yet?

Why did I want CC to link to my posts? It's just basic blogger courtesy. In the two posts I've done refuting his drivel, I've included the posts he wrote that set me off so that my audience could read them and decide for themselves who made the better argument. But, much like the USC athletic department and its Compliance Department's non-link to the list of its NCAA infractions, it seems Gamecock fans can't handle the truth.

I wish to congratulate Mr. Chicken on having more hits than me despite being around for a lot less time. (Yawn.) If he had bothered to check (and of course he hadn't), he would have noticed that this blog's history under Trey, the former author, was quite spotty. (My name's Peter Fallow, by the way.) Trey launched Tigerpundit in March 2002 with a couple of posts, but then didn't update until August of that year. Then, there was another long break until June 2003, at which point it was updated nearly every day until April 2005. That's when the former owner hung it up for good. I took over in January of this year. So, yeah, it's not exactly been lighting up the stat counter. It's had 23 months of downtime during its four-year existence. So what?

Either the Chicken Man is the worst troll in sports-blog history, or he's an elaborate false-flag operation run by the Clemson athletic department in order to discredit USC fans.

If it's the former, then no more feed for him. If it's the latter, keep up the good work!

* New Clemson blog: Track the comings and goings of Tigers in the NFL right here at the appropriately titled Tigers in the NFL.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Actual unretouched photo of Cool Chicken.

With regards to my post on Clemson's post-national-championship probation and CC's claim that our championship was "bought and paid for," you can read his lame-ass response right here.

OMG! He's LMAO! Whatever shall I do?

Respond, that's what.

Chicken Blog begins by talking about the "arrogance" of Clemson fans, a common theme on his sad little Web site:

They all feel their championship is by far the greatest of all championships and that the NCAA as a whole should get on their knees and brokeback much thanks to the Clemson tigers.

WTF? I don't even understand this bit. I never made any statements about the relative worth of our national championship compared to others. A national championship is a national championship. How is one better than the other? Hell, it's not even awarded by the NCAA; it's awarded in a vote by various polls.

And "brokeback" our thanks? I suppose that's a reference to this "clever" fleck of chickenshit from a while back. (Man, I've never seen a "Brokeback Mountain" joke before! How original!) The theme seems to be that Tommy Bowden and Charlie Whitehurst are soooo gay. Yeah, they must be gay in that "prison" way, because they turned USC into their bitch for four straight years, occasionally pimping them out to the Southeastern Conference in exchange for candy bars and cigarettes.

Mr. Tigerpundit posted a bunch of links provided by Clemson to some how refute the known fact that their 1981 championship was paid for.

Gee, what can I say? I never realized that the "bunch of links" I posted to the NCAA's official Web site and the New York Times were "provided by Clemson." I thought they were provided by Google. (Well, he is a Cock, so of course he doesn't read very well. Or spell very well, either. Hey, numbnuts: "Somehow" is one word, not two.)

I suppose he's referring to this link from Clemson University's own NCAA compliance page that lays out, for the whole world to see, details of our past infractions. Most universities with any credibility have one; hey, let's check out USC's ..... whoops!!! Down the memory hole! How's that for credibility? Much like Commisar Yezhov, USC's infractions officially do not exist. Please move along, comrade, and whatever you do, don't read this, or this, or this, or this.

Let me ask you a quick question, if a guy accused of murder has an alibi... himself, how well do you think that alibi is going to hold up?
As I demonstrated already, most of the evidence I presented is from the NCAA and the New York Times, not from Clemson University. And what "alibi" are you talking about? I pointed out repeatedly that the violations were bad and that Clemson deserved the punishment it received. What I'm refuting is CC's weak-ass, played-out-around-1986 argument that Clemson's national championship somehow "doesn't count" because it was "bought and paid for." Well, don't you think it's important that there be conclusive proof that players who were bought, you know, actually PLAYED?

I tell you what Mr. Tigerpundit, you show me documents that state: The infractions levied against Clemson were solely in regards to James Cofer and Terry Minor. "None of the infractions had anything to do with any of the players, coaches, staff, fans, boosters and or maintenance crew who were involved with the 1981 championship season." Then, I will step back and remove my claim that the 1981 championship is as about as paid for as Heidi Fleiss. Can you do that? Nope.

Well, Mr. Chicken, you can't prove anything, either, because the records we have available leave out the names of the people involved. File a FOIA request with the NCAA if it means that damn much to you.

As I stated in my original post, yes, there were other recruits besides Cofer and Minor involved in the infractions. And based on the documents we have, we have no idea which players were involved (other than Cofer and Minor).

Furthermore, we have no idea how many of the players offered inducements actually signed with Clemson, or, if they signed, in what way they contributed to the 1981 national championship. (Remember, it's an NCAA infraction merely to offer stuff to a potential student-athlete.) I can only go with the documents that are publicly available. Again, read the NCAA's truncated report. Leaving out what most people would consider the minor stuff (rides, meals, free shirts, etc.), for a period of time that covers 1977-1981, I count about 10 actual cash transactions reported (as opposed to language about "offers" of cash or other gifts, which, while definitely against the rules, are an indication that someone said they'd give a player something).

We KNOW Cofer and Minor were two of those guys who got paid. We KNOW they never played.

Now, how many players went through Clemson during those four years? A hundred? A hundred and twenty? How many recruits did Clemson's staff have contact with? A couple hundred more? And CC is arguing that 10 or so actual payouts and several more promises of payouts make for a "bought and paid for championship"? That's a mighty poor return on investment. Please, Gamecock fans, don't let this guy handle your retirement account. You'll end up as bankrupt as his childish, ridiculous argument.

(CC had some crap here about how ironic it was that I didn't respond to something he felt was vitally important. By the way, yeah, I did paste your "whiny bitches" words onto my blog. I just didn't boldface them. So effin' what?)
Now let's wrap this thing up...

Look, anytime there has ever been a improper action by anyone in regards to South Carolina, I have been one of the first to say: "get them out of the program!" I accept our responsibility in anything that has ever happened.

Well, good for you. If you read my original post, you would have seen that I repeatedly pointed out how the infractions we were found guilty of were bad, and that we got the punishment we deserved. Go ahead. Read it again. Slowly and out loud, if you have to. (And it should be "an improper" action.)

The things people have done with this program have at times been quite annoying and embarrassing.

That surely includes Mr. Chicken's blog.

I will call them out on it in a heart beat. The problem with you (meaning Clemson in general) is that you think it is all secondary.
Again, I wrote, over and over again, that we got the punishment we deserved. No TV or bowls for three years. Scholarships drastically cut. Punishments that fit the crimes. How many more times does it have to be said? We screwed up, we got caught, we got what we deserved.

Apparently, Mr. Chicken won't be satisfied until the 1981 championship is revoked or the games of that season forfeited, which ain't gonna happen. (And "heartbeat" is one word, pal.)

Further more, when you are called out on it, you whine... bitchily.
This is really rich. Check out this page, in which Chicken Man lays out why he hates Clemson. It has nothing to do with what happens on the football field, which should REALLY piss him off. It's all about our fans and their supposed "arrogance."
(Oh, and "furthermore" is one word.)

That's pathetic. The whole point of being a fan is YOUR TEAM and what it does, NOT what another team does. Unless, of course, the product your team puts on the field is subpar. Then jealousy takes over, as it's apparently done with this guy, and you end up whining about your chief rival's frickin' fans. Bitchily, I might add.

How weak is that?

Tell you what. I hate the UNC Tar Heels, especially in basketball. And arrogant fans? They've got 'em by the boatload. But I'm not going to base my blog on hatred of them, because it's pointless; they absolutely OWN us in hoops. If I were to constantly complain about the fans of a team that has kicked our butts year in and year out, I'd only look like a jackass.

But I guess that's one thing you can say about Mr. Chicken; he has definitely overcome his fear of looking like a jackass.

Start standing and accepting what you are. The only way you are ever going to change your culture is by recognizing it to begin with.
Again, this is rich. "Change your culture?" Is he referring to a culture of cheating? Well, we haven't had a major NCAA infraction in any sport since 1992; that culture has changed. USC? They got busted just last year.

Or you could just continue to be one of the most hated schools in the country and not because you are good... but because you are bitches.
Clemson is "one of the most hated schools in the country"? Yeah, only in the fevered imaginations of punk-ass Gamecock fans who wish they could enjoy half the success we've had on the gridiron. Or half the success of Vanderbilt, for that matter.

It's funny that this alleged universal hatred of Clemson stems from the incontrovertible scientific fact that we're "bitches."

Bitches who absolutely own the Gamecocks in football.

So what does that make them? Sub-bitches? Under-bitches? The bitches' bitches?
Offense to run more option-type plays

That's the scoop from The Sporting News. It seems Will Proctor will be more of a runner than Charlie Whitehurst.

Hey, Charlie could break out and run it every once in a while, and he wasn't afraid of getting hit, either.

* Jacoby Ford -- still a badass: So says this Web site.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Davis nominated for Hall of Fame

Speaking of the 1981 national championship team, it seems that the S.C. media is finally getting around to noticing that Jeff Davis, the heart and soul of that undefeated squad, has been nominated for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. (We noticed this a while ago.) One other member of that 1981 team, Terry Kinard, is already in the hall. So congratulations, Jeff. You deserve the honor.

* Defensive minded: The Greenville News examines Clemson's prospects on the defensive side of the ball.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Clarifying the historical record about 1981

I'm not one to get into these blog pissing matches, but I must respond to part of this post by uber-Gamecock fan The Cool Chicken and, in the process, try to correct the record about a longstanding smear against the Clemson football program -- namely, that the harsh NCAA penalties that were handed down a year after our 1981 national championship are "proof" that our title was won by a bunch of ringers who wouldn't have come to Tigertown if wads of cash hadn't been waved in their faces.

The truth of the matter is a bit more complex than that.

Now, Mr. Chicken is certainly free to hate Clemson fans. Lord knows I hate Gamecock fans, and some of them are my relatives.

But Mr. Chicken is not free to his own facts. While engaging in a slap-fight with the guys from Six Degrees of Bowden, he states that Clemson fans are "a bunch of whiny bitches hanging their hat on a bought and paid for championship."

All Clemson fans are familiar with this line. We've been beaten about the head and shoulders with it for more than 20 years.

And, as far as what some of our boosters and coaches actually did back then, we fully deserved the punishment handed out by the NCAA. (The ACC's additional penalties, well, I'm not so sure about them.)

However, if it was a "bought and paid for championship," then Clemson certainly didn't get its money's worth.

Here's why: The two prospects who were widely known to be at the heart of the NCAA's investigation never enrolled in Clemson; indeed, if I remember correctly, neither ever played big-time college football. And the world probably wouldn't have known about them if they hadn't willingly taken the improper gifts, signed with Clemson, and then suddenly decided to back out of their letters of intent to sign with their hometown university, an SEC powerhouse.

Clemson fans with long memories will recall the names James Cofer and Terry Minor. In 1980, they were two hot-shot prep football stars in Knoxville who were allegedly offered cash, cars and other gifts by an overzealous Clemson alum who lived in the Knoxville area, as well as by Clemson recruiters. Sadly, these allegations were confirmed by the NCAA's investigation, as were some other unsavory things that were peripheral to the heart of the case.

UPDATE: Here are more in-depth details on the violations. As expected, they include all the bad stuff you'd expect to find about cash payments and cars. (Not enough to fill an entire football team, but still, bad stuff.)

They also include the "gave a prospective student-athlete a T-shirt/hat/cheeseburger/ride down the street" nonsense that makes the NCAA such an infuriating, hypocritical organization.

Taken as a whole, it's obviously damning, but does it add up to a "bought and paid for championship"? Not even close, especially considering that most of the really bad violations seem to have taken place prior to 1980, when Charley Pell was the coach of the Tigers in 1977 and 1978. Pell departed in 1978 for Florida, another school he led to NCAA sanctions, so it's unclear if the contact with Cofer and Minor began then, when the players were likely sophomores in high school, or later.

OK, back to our original story:

After signing with Clemson in early 1981, Knoxville residents Cofer and Minor suddenly decided they wanted out of their letters-of-intent so they could attend -- wait for it -- the University of Tennessee! Which, if you're familiar with geography, is located in Knoxville.

(Hmmm. I wonder how that happened. ... Maybe the Vols offered an upgrade to that rich Corinthian leather? Kidding!)

In December 1981, with the Tigers ranked No. 1 in the country and prepping for the Orange Bowl game that would give the school its first national championship, Cofer and Minor, with the help of John Mark Hancock, a lawyer who happens to be a huge UT booster, filed a headline-grabbing lawsuit seeking $12 million in damages against Clemson.

(The suit was filed after the NCAA had been sniffing around Tigertown; this story, dated Nov. 10, 1982, says the ACC had just wrapped up an 18-month probe, which means it would have begun around May 1981, soon after Cofer and Minor had committed to Clemson. Nonetheless, the timing of the $12 million lawsuit was interesting, considering that it came nearly a year before the usually discrete NCAA announced its penalties against Clemson.)

The lawsuit was later dismissed (rightfully so), and Cofer and Minor, viewed as damaged goods by Tennessee and the SEC, ended up much further down the college football food chain (Carson-Newman, I believe). However, the unsuccessful attempts to get Cofer and Minor into Clemson led to the NCAA hammer coming down with full force.

Again, I want to emphasize that the infractions Clemson was found guilty of were serious; the athletic department fully deserved the punishment it received, which included steep reductions in scholarships and a ban on TV appearances and postseason bowls for two years (to which the ACC helpfully added on a third year for both -- thanks, guys!).

But if you read the summary of the infractions and penalties, you'll see that it does not include forfeiture of any games from 1981.

That is because the players at the heart of the NCAA's investigation never took the field for Clemson during that season.

That's a damn important point. Yeah, we screwed up, and we paid for it -- dearly. But in no way does it detract from what Jeff Davis, Perry Tuttle, Homer Jordan and so many others accomplished on the field in 1981.

And why? Because there is no proof that players who may have been given favors or cash were in any way responsible for the Tigers' success. (If there's any out there, I'd love to see it.) Cofer and Minor are the most obvious examples of that -- hell, they never even enrolled in Clemson.

Signing high-quality recruits, whether it's done legally or illegally, is no guarantee of success. Lots of schools know all about that.

It's always been my opinion that Clemson's early-1980s probation encapsulated much that is distasteful about college recruiting: Clemson alums and coaches did sleazy things to entice players to sign, then apparently got "turned in" to the NCAA because they may have out-sleazed another school's alumni and coaches. Viewed in that way, it's an ugly situation all around.

But the idea that Clemson's violations, bad as they were, are the sole reason we won the national championship in 1981 is laughable, especially coming from the fan of a school whose own athletic programs have been in the NCAA's major-infractions slammer three times.

UPDATE: Here are the details on the Gamecocks' two-year postseason and TV ban in football AND basketball circa 1967. Note that the punishment recommends the forfeiture of football games from 1965 for using ineligible players.
Watching the Tigers just got more expensive

Clemson has announced price increases for football tickets in 2006, though the university is touting the fact that admission to Death Valley is still cheaper than it is at some other big-time programs.

I dunno. With an extra game on the schedule, would it have been that hard to hold the prices to 2005 levels?

* Halfway over: Here's a quick look at where the Tigers stand as the team takes a break from spring practice until March 27. Don't forget, the Spring Game is April 8.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tigers' offense could be special this season

Lots of stories out of spring practice today, most of them focusing on Clemson's offensive unit. The Greenville News invokes the Joker from 1989's Batman, wondering where we get all of our wonderful toys. The State writes about the talent on display at Clemson and the excitement that it's generating. And, of course, Jacoby Ford is still generating a lot of buzz.

From Tigernet, we learn that improvement is the key word this spring. And don't forget about the defense.

* Tye Hill update: Here's another first-person account from the former Clemson DB who's expected to be a first-round draft pick.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Spring practice: Jacoby Ford is the man edition

The Tigers held a scrimmage Saturday, and freshman Jacoby "Fastest Human I've Ever Seen" Ford was the star of the show. (More here.) He turned his first reception, a simple screen pass, into a 53-yard touchdown run.

* NFL update: Find out what's been going on with former Tigers Anthony Simmons and Airese Currie.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Spring practice updates -- including INSIDER INFO!!!

Fellow Clemson bloggers The Sporting Gnomes do a little digging and find some truly inspiring news out of training camp. Check it out.

You can trust this information. It's from Dustin Frye's mom!

Elsewhere, the Greenville News is salivating over defensive end Gaines Adams, who is poised to have a monster senior season. The State takes a look at backup QB Cullen Harper, plus a few other things. has a nice piece on which players are likely to take over for departed starters in 2006. And RealFootball365 says our offense could lead us to a breakout season in 2006.

* Davis eligible for Hall of Fame: Clemson great Jeff Davis, the heart and soul of the 1981 national championship team, is on the ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame. (You have to scroll down to find his name, but it's there.)

* Jack Hines update: The former Clemson assistant, who is coach Tommy Bowden's brother in law, has accepted a job coaching at a high school in Georgia that hasn't even opened yet. Hines was cut loose from the Clemson coaching staff last month.

* Cocks pulled out of ACC too early: Read some league history here.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Clemson vs. Temple -- in Charlotte?

The Charleston Post and Courier is reporting that this season's contest between the schools, which is scheduled to be played in Philadelphia on Oct. 14, could be moved to Charlotte. The game would be held on Thursday, Oct. 12, and would not be televised.

* Harper ready for backup role: Tigernet profiles Cullen Harper, who will be the backup quarterback to Will Proctor this fall.

* Dawkins profiled: Philadelphia Eagles safety Brian Dawkins, a former Tiger, was at a speaking engagement in Pottstown, Pa., recently. Here's the story.

* Political blogging: Well, just a little bit. Here's a story on the gubernatorial hopes of former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Lynn Swann (one of the heroes of my youth). The Clemson angle? Quotes from Swann's former teammate Benny Cunningham, the finest tight end in Clemson history.

* And finally: Check out this fine piece of Gamecock hatred, courtesy of Six Degrees of Bowden.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Spring practice news abounds on the Net

Here's an update from Tigernet. Here's another from the Greenville News, and here's one from The State. And finally, here's one from

Monday, March 06, 2006

An early preview of the 2006 Tigers

Yeah, I know, this is March, but this is as good a summary of what we can expect as anything that's out there. Fifteen starters return, including the entire offensive line, and we'll have an awesome rushing attack with sophomore James Davis and new signee C.J. Spiller.

With the new WestZone project expected to be largely completed by the first home game, this could be a very special season for the Tigers.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

As spring practice begins, excitement builds

There are a couple of stories linked to the start of Clemson's spring practice sessions. The most notable piece focuses on new signee Jacoby Ford, whom assistant coach David Blackwell calls "the fastest human I've ever seen." The other stories are more generic, focusing on Clemson's hopes for a true breakout season in 2006.

* More Rumph: Here's an in-depth story on new Clemson assistant coach Chris Rumph. Here's another piece on Rumph that includes some tidbits from the first day of spring practice.

* Tigers to play Chanticleers: Clemson will face Coastal Carolina in football in 2014. Coastal Carolina plays at the 1-AA level, and didn't even have a football team until a couple of years ago.

* What's in a name? Here's an interesting AP story about the children of famous sports figures. Tommy Bowden is mentioned.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Rumph joins staff as spring practice begins

As expected, former Memphis assistant Chris Rumph has been hired to coach the defensive line at Clemson. The news came as the Tigers opened spring practice today.

* More on Proctor: From the Spartanburg Herald Journal.

* So close, and so far: The excellent blogger at College Football Resource points out an Atlanta Journal Constitution article on Clemson's receivers. CFR highlights a quote from Tommy Bowden about how Clemson was just 14 points and a few breaks away from having a special season in 2005. CFR's response is interesting, and a bit puzzling:

Can you imagine the respect Clemson would have earned last year had a few more breaks gone their way and achieved a spotless or near-spotless record? Yet for anyone watching their team, it was brutally obvious they weren't an elite team. This is another example of how records can be deceptive and why voters and fans need to go out of their way to be as informed as possible about contending teams.

I would have felt terrible for the teams Clemson leapfrogged had they gone say, 10-2 last year when in fact their level of play was fairly well reflected by their record---good, not great. Just sayin'.

I can't really quibble with the opinion that Clemson in 2005 wasn't an elite team. Elite teams don't lose to Wake Forest, and they figure out a way to score more than nine points against Georgia Tech. But say Clemson had gone 10-2 in 2005, with our two losses being overtime affairs to two pretty good teams -- Miami and Boston College.

Looking at the final AP poll of 2005, where Clemson finished 21st, I think we would have wound up anywhere from 13th to 17th -- pretty much where Miami and Boston College finished their seasons. That hardly seems unfair to other teams with similar records.

Yes, Miami and BC each beat Clemson in overtime. They also each lost to eventual ACC champion Florida State, a team Clemson demolished 35-14. The Seminoles finished the season with five losses, yet were still ranked 23rd in the final poll. Maybe because they had some great wins over ranked teams such as Miami, BC and Virginia Tech.

Heck, let's extend this thought experiment. Suppose Clemson had managed to defeat Boston College, and the Tigers' lone blemish in 2005 was a triple-overtime loss to Miami. I think we could fairly claim a spot in the lower end of the top 10. And, if we'd somehow beaten the Hurricanes, I think we would have totally deserved a spot in the top five -- the lower end of the top five, but still.

Perhaps that idealized 10-1/11-0 Clemson team would have been revealed for the "sham" it was in a higher-tier bowl game. Instead of facing a reeling Colorado squad in the Champs Sports Bowl, perhaps we would have faced a more worthy opponent and gotten beaten -- badly.

It's certainly possible, especially if we'd come up against a truly "elite" team such as Texas, Southern Cal, Penn State or Ohio State. I think either the Horns or the Trojans would have thrashed us, and I'm pretty sure the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes would have won, too.

But then again, what if that worthy opponent uncharacteristically committed too many turnovers and lost? Or what if Clemson played a perfect game and won? Would we still be undeserving of a high ranking?

Or, what if we were matched up in a bowl against a team such as fifth-ranked West Virginia, which went 11-1 against a pretty weak schedule? (Their only opponent of any real quality during the regular season, Virginia Tech, beat them 34-17.) I think even a 7-4 Clemson team would have a good shot at winning that matchup, or at least playing an extremely competitive game.

If CFR's point is that polls aren't completely fair, I certainly can't argue with that. But I think it's an odd argument to say that a 10-2 or 11-1 Clemson team would be undeserving of a ranking higher than 21st in the country.

UPDATE: I just realized the perfect example of a team that CFR might have felt "leapfrogged" other, more deserving teams en route to a national championship: Georgia, 1980. An offense centered on just one star player (albeit one of the all-time greats), a non-dominating, bend-but-don't-break defense, and the uncanny ability to pull a win out of their asses week after week despite being beaten in most statistical categories.

(The 1980 Clemson-Georgia game is a microcosm of the Bulldogs' championship season. In that contest, Georgia was vastly outgained in yardage and way behind in time of possession, but won because Scott Woerner had the game of his life. He returned a punt for a touchdown and ran an interception back 98 yards to set up another score as the Dogs triumphed, 20-16. By the way, Clemson finished 6-5 that season. Not exactly a "quality" win.)

The 1980 Dawgs certainly weren't an all-conquering dynasty. Yet when the dust settled on New Year's Day, Georgia was the undefeated national champion.

You're free to feel terrible for Pittsburgh, Oklahoma, Michigan, etc. As for myself, I tip my hat to the Dogs, and raise a glass to the insane, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring stuff that actually happens on the field, as opposed to what's supposed to happen based on a regression analysis of statistical trends and box scores.

Friday, March 03, 2006

More spring previews, and a touching tribute

The State gets ready for Clemson's spring football practice with a Bob Spears column on Will Proctor and a "five questions facing the Tigers" thingee. (More on Proctor here.) The Spartanburg Herald Journal, which seems to have FINALLY disabled its registration, has a spring preview, too. And here's the Greenville News on spring practice. Extra bonus: Bart Wright is excited about Clemson's prospects in 2006!

* A touching tribute to a Tiger's mother: Former Clemson quarterback Brandon Streeter recently lost his mother. Steeter's former teammate, Kyle Young, traveled to Gettysburg, Pa., for the funeral and wrote about his experience. Besides being a lovely tribute to Brandon's mother, it's also a very nice piece about the sacrifices that come with supporting your favorite team.

* Rodriguez visits Upstate: Former Clemson offensive coordinator and current West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez had a speaking engagement in Gaffney, S.C., recently, and the Spartanburg Herald Journal was there to cover it. I certainly wish Rodriguez would have stayed at Clemson, and I also wish his Mountaineers had been included in the ACC's expansion. That would have made for some interesting Saturdays, and would have definitely enhanced the league's football profile.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Spring football practice looms for Tigers

Spring practice begins Saturday, and Clemson's first order of business will be trying to get senior quarterback Will Proctor ready to lead the Tigers in the fall. (More here.) If he's as good as he's shown in the limited playing time he's had during the Charlie Whitehurst era, we'll be in good shape. A veteran offensive line will be a big help, too.

Here's the Tigers' depth chart heading into spring drills.

* Hill is a hot commodity: Former Clemson defensive back Tye Hill ran the fastest time in the 40-yard dash at the recent NFL Combine, and now he's a projected first-round pick. Here, he talks about the path he's taken from a small town to the verge of the NFL.
Athletic department hires law firm

Here's an interesting story from the Charleston Post and Courier. It seems athletic director Terry Don Phillips has hired a law firm to review Clemson's compliance with NCAA regulations.

Phillips insists the Tigers aren't in any trouble, which is good. This is probably just a due-diligence kind of thing.