Three weeks ago, as I was hitting the refresh button to see whether or not Clemson had made it into overtime against Florida State, my brother, an avid FSU fan, called my phone. I being a dutiful Tigers fan hit the ignore button. Moments later, the score on the ESPN Mobile site read, “CLEM 13 FSU 16” and I received a text from my big bro: Tigers are LOSERS.
Sadly, I agreed with the sentiments of my brother. We did not become losers this season. We became losers the moment Clemson’s Athletic Director, Terry Don Phillips, decided to allow Tommy Bowden to walk away. Yes, Clemson was struggling in 2008 with a 3-3 record. However, I still can’t comprehend how it is his fault we were losing. We were not calling bad plays. Notably, our football players were making bad plays.
Cullen Harper, the starting QB, began playing for the other team. Interception after interception, he only played to his own tunes, which always seemed to be the opposing team’s fight song. Henceforth, he was benched for a promising back up, Willy Korn. Commotion followed and public bickering about Bowden’s stance on Harper led to a team relinquishing its promise and potential.
All was supposedly swell in Tiger Town as this kid and his father waved a good ole finger to Bowden as he left and then embraced the interim coach, Dabo Swinney. When Bowden left, Swinney rejuvenated the boys. The Tigers beat USC and finished the 2008 season with a record 7-6 record. In 2009, Clemson made it to the ACC championship game and won its bowl game against Kentucky to cap a 9-5 season. Here comes the 2010 season and everyone, myself included, forgot that we beat USC and went to the ACC Championship game in 2009 with Bowden’s boys and his system. The fans closed their eyes as Swinney’s fellas began the takeover.
The only thing they now stake claim to is the Tigers 6-6 record and the fact we have lost our Palmetto battle with the Gamecocks back-to-back years.
What the hell is happening in Clemson? Fundamentally retarded, Clemson has not been able to throw, catch or run this season. Wins over Maryland, NC State, Wake Forest and a depleted Georgia Tech means nothing to what the Tigers were aspiring to during the Bowden Days: legitimacy in ACC football and beyond.
This past Saturday we were embarrassed by our in-state rival, the Gamecocks, 29-7. Three weeks ago, we couldn’t win the non-Bowden bowl against the Seminoles. Two years ago, we were strung by our own aspirations on a false time line. Something must be done.
Playbooks need to change. Players need to re-learn the basics of football: catch with two hands, don’t run into your own guys and don’t throw directly at the corner. Coaches need to coach and save the enthusiasm for the inspirational speaker. Swinney, call in Lou Holtz to inspire the boys because we no longer need your enthusiasm. We need a coach that goes beyond the recruiting fields and into seeing results on the football field.