Sunday, February 11, 2007

Don't Know Much About History

**Very important that it be noted I am a Univ. of South Carolina alum and die hard fan of USC athletics.**

The Sunday sports sections were full of stories about the National Signing Day controversy at Clemson. It seems that in the 11th hour Clemson was forced to reject a couple of prospects based on academic standards. These players were informed that they did not qualify for admission and subsequently had their offers revoked. This is not a common practice in southern football. It might happen at Vanderbilt and Duke, but we are speaking of real football, not a club sport.

Clemson is surging to achieve a lofty goal of top 20 public school and football national championships. This seems impossible to many considering lots of schools have players that are primarily football players and secondarily athletes, and many more have only athletes. What Clemson is trying to acheive though is not impossible, it is actually the key to success at least according to recent history. University of Michigan, University of Texas, University of Florida, and Ohio State University all won national championships in the last ten years, and all are currently in the top 20. It is admirable what Clemson is trying to do, and in many ways these are the growing pains of this program.

The problems arise when you consider Clemson is much smaller than any of the schools listed above. Their alumni base is dwarfed by those of Texas, Ohio St. and Michigan. The base of those schools fans are alumni. It is the complete opposite at Clemson, where approximately 30% of everyday Clemson fans are alumni. The alumni get it, the plain folks and the rabid fans of the 80's do not.

Head Coach Tommy Bowden acted as if he'd not been aware of the standards required of his future players, and thus acted shocked. His antics although not unusual actually made me feel that the rug had been pulled from beneath him. It stripped him of his fleeting strength. It signified more and more his future is limited in Clemson. This program needs a much stronger leader, especially based on the current and future standards.

The strange thing in all of this, one of the athletes rejected by Clemson ended up with another school. He went to UNC. UNC currently ranks #4 on the Top 20 Public Schools. Clemson lost an athlete because they don't have the earned capital to spend in academia. They will or the 70% of people not currently counted as alumni will find a way to have him leave the state.

*The estimation on % of alumni as fans is completely my opinion. It is also my opinion that football is much more important to that school than will ever be admitted, I don't think we will see this problem ever again. Mainly because you don't win in football by rejecting kids after you offer on signing day. You never recruit them, you find a way to get them in once you offer and you place them in a junior college. You know your standards and you seek athletes that fit them. If you end up with someone that doesn't fit, you bring them in anyway. Save yourself the headaches. Clemson just developed a reputation for rejecting borderline kids at the last minute.


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