Sports Outside the Beltway

Tommy Bowden out as Clemson coach

The son of Florida’s Bobby Bowden, stepped down after 9.5 years at the school.

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Tommy Bowden decided he’d done all he could do for Clemson football, telling his athletic director Monday he’d step aside for the future of the program.

AD Terry Don Phillips said his intent Monday morning was to have a candid, heart-to-heart with Bowden about the football team. So Phillips was surprised when Bowden offered to walk away in midseason.

“There wasn’t a gun to his head,” Phillips said.

“He put it on the table for the sake of the program,” Phillips said. “I agreed.”


Assistant head coach and receivers coach Dabo Swinney will take over the club. Phillips urged him to act like the team’s head coach and make difficult decisions knowing he had the administration’s full backing.

It’s a far fall for a team some figured to contend for a national title.

The year began with the Tigers ranked No. 9 and picked to win the Atlantic Coast Conference. But an opening 34-10 rout by Alabama and recent losses to Maryland and Wake Forest raised calls again for Bowden’s ouster despite the contract extension that tied him to the school through 2014.


Clemson went 72-45 (43-32 ACC) and made eight bowl appearances under Bowden, who was honored as ACC coach of the year in 1999 and 2003. But the son of storied football coach Bobby Bowden never brought Clemson fans what they wanted most — a championship.

Bowden will be paid through the end of the season, then get $3.5 million as a buyout negotiated in the contract extension both sides agreed to last December.

Bowden’s tenure at Clemson was hardly a bust. Clemson officials and boosters suffer from delusions of grandeur if they feel this school can become a perennial powerhouse. It won’t. The school got a national championship around 25 years ago. It wouldn’t surprise me if Clemson went another 25 before winning one. Bowden couldn’t change Clemson and neither will his successor.

Will Tommy Bowden be considered for the Florida State job when his father retires, or is it already set that Jimbo Fisher will be the Seminoles’ next head coach?


Alabama Rolls Over Clemson, 34-10

Doug Benc/Getty Images  Nick Saban watched the Crimson Tide dominate No. 9 Clemson on Saturday.The Alabama Crimson Tide came in as heavy underdogs against the #9 ranked Clemson Tigers but surprised everyone by dominating the game from start to finish.


Nick Saban may face his toughest task yet: Holding down runaway expectations for his inexperienced Alabama team. Crimson Tide’s $4 million-per-year coach gave Alabama backers a reason to think big Saturday night, leading ‘Bama to a thorough 34-10 beating of No. 9 Clemson 34-10 at the Georgia Dome.

“Nobody can be satisfied with a one-game performance,” Saban said. “This will be a challenge for our team and it’ll be interesting to see how they respond.”

Still, as the Alabama band broke into Queen’s “We Are The Champions,” at the end, you had to wonder if they were honoring the Crimson Tide’s past, with 12 national titles and years of dominance in the Southeastern Conference under Bear Bryant, or gazing into the near future.

“It’s still early. We still got a long way to go,” cautioned quarterback John Parker Wilson, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third. “But we’ve got a good group of guys here who can do it.”

The statistical comparison was overwhelming:

Team Stat Comparison
1st Downs 25 11
Total Yards 419 188
Passing 180 188
Rushing 239 0
Penalties 6-40 6-43
3rd Down Conversions 11-17 1-9
4th Down Conversions 0-0 1-2
Turnovers 0 2
Possession 41:13 18:47

It’s worth pointing out that Clemson’s vaunted offense was held to a measly field goal, with 7 of the 10 Tiger points coming on a kickoff return.

ESPN’s Ivan Maisel thinks Alabama is ahead of schedule after a disappointing first year for head coach Nick Saban:

Alabama coach Nick Saban wanted to play No. 9 Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic for a lot of reasons. He wanted the national prime-time exposure of the opening Saturday night. He wanted his No. 24 Crimson Tide to have a presence in this recruiting hotbed. He wanted his young team — 14 freshmen on the two-deep — to play in a bowl-like atmosphere.

Saban, in sum, wanted this game in order to prepare his team for a future when they would be ready to contend for championships. In the wake of Alabama’s 34-10 victory, that may have been Saban’s only miscalculation.

Future? The future is now. If Alabama continues to play as well as it played Saturday night, the Crimson Tide will play in the Georgia Dome again this season — in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.

It’s an exciting start to the season. Clearly, Saban has done wonders in recruiting. But Alabama faces an absolutely brutal schedule, playing at Arkansas, at #1 Georgia, at #18 Tennessee, at #7 LSU, and closing the regular season at home against #10 Auburn. If they can even win three of those games, it would be a spectacular year. Even that, though, wouldn’t be enough to guarantee them a spot in the SEC title game, let alone the BCS championship game.


Former NFL Center Curtis Whitley dead at 39

Whitley played for 3 NFL teams in the 90′s. While its not known what the cause of death is yet, Whitley had a history of drug and alcohol use. RIP. I put the AP article below the fold.


Upset Saturday in College Football

It was a bizarre weekend in college football, with eight ranked teams losing to teams ranked below them — seven to teams not ranked at all.

    #3 Oklahoma lost to unranked Colorado, 24-27.
    #4 Florida lost to unranked Auburn, 17-20.
    #5 West Virginia lost to #18 South Florida, 13-21 (Thursday night).
    #7 Texas lost to unranked Kansas State, 21-41
    #10 Rutgers lost to unranked Maryland, 24-34
    #13 Clemson lost to unranked Georgia Tech, 3-13
    #21 Penn State lost to unranked Illinois, 20-27
    #22 Alabama lost to unranked Florida State, 14- 21

This was on top of several other close finishes.

ESPN’s Pat Forde dubs it “Insanity Saturday” and observes that this throws the whole season out of whack.

Just that fast, the college football landscape shifted seismically beneath our feet.

Just that fast, the Red River Shootout game Saturday between Oklahoma and Texas was dropped to undercard status. For the first time in years, it’s not the marquee game in the Big 12. And for the first time in years, the league’s maligned North looks more compelling than the South. If you can believe it, the biggest game in that league next week might be unbeaten Kansas at 3-1 Kansas State — either that or 4-1 Nebraska at unbeaten Missouri.

Just that fast, the upcoming LSU-Florida showdown Saturday in Baton Rouge lost half its helium when the Gators were shocked in The Swamp by an Auburn team that had lost at home to South Florida and Mississippi State on consecutive weekends.

Just that fast, the three Big East teams that began the season in the Top 25 all have at least one loss. Louisville went down first, then West Virginia, now Rutgers. Suddenly South Florida, Connecticut and Cincinnati are the unbeaten teams in the Big East. Honk if you foresaw that in August.

Just that fast, Illinois is 4-1 and tied for first in the Big Ten at 2-0. That’s the same Illinois that went 2-10 last year, with only one victory over I-A competition.

Just that fast, we have an ACC plot twist that leaves Virginia and Boston College well out in front in their respective divisions at 3-0 in league play. Virginia was left for dead after a Week 1 blowout loss to Wyoming. Boston College was picked last in its division by at least one preseason magazine.

And just that fast, USC and LSU put that much more distance between themselves and what’s left of the pack.

The object lesson here is that no favorite is safe. Not at home, not on the road, not in league play, not out of league play. If those lessons hadn’t already been learned by Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32, and Syracuse 38, Louisville 35, they were reinforced on Insanity Saturday.

And no lead is safe. You’d think the Sooners getting up 24-7 would be enough to make Colorado quit. You’d be wrong. The Buffaloes scored the final 20 points, winning on the last play of the game — a 45-yard field goal by Kevin Eberhart.


Underdogs aren’t scared right now, by much of anyone. Players and coaches are shrugging off past history, blowing off bad losses, not worrying about falling behind and regrouping to pull upsets nobody saw coming. Nobody’s rolling over.

I’ve seen this sort of thing in college basketball before but never to this extent in football. The bottom line, though, is that Notre Dame and Alabama and Michigan no longer have an automatic recruiting advantage over South Florida and West Virginia and Georgia Tech. There’s a wealth of talent out there and plenty of television exposure to be had in the realigned conference structure. Players would rather go to a program with less prestige and start than sit on the bench and one of the Big Boys.


Alabama-Clemson 2008 Georgia Dome Game

Talks are heating up for a matchup between Alabama and Clemson to kick off the 2008 season.

If a few things fall into place this week, Alabama and Clemson could open the 2008 season at the Georgia Dome.

Gary Stokan, president of the Atlanta Sports Council, confirmed that discussions are taking place with the two schools to play on Aug. 30, 2008 in Atlanta. “With all of the Georgia kids that these two teams have, its obvious that both want to recruit heavily over here,” Stokan told the Journal-Constitution. “It would be a great way to kick off the 2008 season.”
Alabama has 11 Georgia players on its 2007 roster.

New Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban has indicated he would be interested in the move. The Tide already have seven home games scheduled for next season and still needs to add another non-conference game. Western Kentucky is currently in that Aug. 30 slot, but could be moved to either Sept. 13 or Nov. 22 if this deal comes together. Alabama’s other non-conference games in 2008 are with Tulane (Sept. 6) and Northern Illinois (Nov. 1).

Clemson currently has seven home games and four non-conference games scheduled, but one of those is with The Citadel, a Division I-AA team, on a date that has yet to be determined. Clemson’s other non-conference games are with Louisiana Tech (in Shreveport, La), Central Florida and South Carolina.

Like Alabama, Clemson recruits heavily in Georgia, with 12 Peach State players on its current roster. Tigers athletics director Terry Don Phillips is scheduled to meet with head coach Tommy Bowden this week to discuss this possibility.

The Atlanta Sports Council is trying to set up college football games in the Dome for 2008, 2009 and 2010. Stokan has been negotiating with Florida State in hope of bringing the Seminoles to Atlanta but those talks have bogged down because of the inability to find a high-profile opponent. There were also talks with West Virginia about the possibility of playing Florida State, Stokan said.

Duke is strongly considering moving its 2010 home game with Alabama to the Georgia Dome.

Two friends with Clemson ties have forwarded this story to me and they’re more excited than I am.

At Alabama, the expectation remains the same as it was under Bear Bryant: Winning the national championship. That’s true even though the program has been mostly mediocre since winning its last national championship after the 1992 season. Since there’s no playoff system, the way to accomplish that is to go undefeated throughout a brutal SEC season, including a championship game, and hope to get enough votes to be in the top two in the BCS at the end of the year and then win one last game. Adding another tough game to the schedule does nothing to accomplish that, except maybe giving the winner a few bonus points with the voters.

For Clemson, a winning season capped off with a victory over Carolina is a good year. Winning the ACC is enough to keep the fans happy for a decade or two. They last accomplished that feat the year before Alabama’s last national crown. Indeed, Tiger fans are still riding high from their last national title in 1981, well before any of their current players were born.

The bottom line for Alabama is that losing a neutral site game with Clemson to start the season would effectively end it for ‘Bama fans. For Clemson, a loss would hurt but not have any impact on its goals.

As to recruiting Georgia players, all Alabama needs to do is get back to winning games. If they’re contending for a championship on a regular basis, most of their games will be on national television.


NFL Draft 2007 – Round 1 #4 – Tampa Bay Buccaners – DE Gaines Adams

With the 4th overall pick in the draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaners selected Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams. Given that QB Brady Quinn and RB Adrian Peterson were still on the board, they apparently went for need rather than the proverbial “best available player.”

What the Experts Say: Profile:

Player Evaluation:A defender who takes over games, Adams has the physical skills to be an early draft pick and an immediate starter at the next level. His motor and toughness do not match his physical skills yet he offers All-Pro potential if he’s willing to pay the price.

Gaines Adams Photo STRENGTHS: Athleticism, Backside Pursuit, Pass Rushing Skills

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Intensity/Effort, Strength

Biography: Two-year starter awarded All-Conference honors since his junior campaign. All-American selection as a senior after posting 52/17.5/12.5 and breaking up six passes. Junior totals were 56/15/9.5, with 9.5 pass break-ups.

Pos: Game-impacting defender with tremendous upside. Breaks down well, is fast to the sidelines and creates a lot of havoc. Effectively uses his hands, rushes the edge with speed and has the ability to alter his angle of attack and pursue from the backside. Fluid moving in reverse, displaying a back-pedal when asked to play in space. Plays with tremendous pad level, balance and rarely is off his feet. Covers a lot of area, displaying speed in every direction.

Neg: Tends to turn it on and off. Gives half-hearted efforts to shed blocks and does not always chase the action. Accused of playing as though he did not want to get hurt early in his senior campaign.

The Arizona Cardinals are on the clock.


The Buccaneers would have loved to have drafted Johnson and reportedly considered taking Quinn here but at the end of the day Adams is the right pick. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s Cover-2 schemes need productive pass rushers up front to be truly effective and the front four needed a boost. Veteran Simeon Rice recorded just two sacks in the eight games in 2006 and Dewayne White, who recorded five sacks, is now with Detroit. Adams, who is the most explosive pass rusher in this class, should provide that much-needed shot of adrenaline. He has excellent first-step quickness and shows rare closing speed once he turns the corner. If he doesn’t get to the quarterback, he generally gets his hands up and times his jumps well.

The biggest concern with him is his ability to anchor against the run and teams should have some success running right at him but the scheme will help mask this weakness. Kiffin will generally ask Adams to use his burst to get into the backfield rather than asking him to stack the blocker up and then react to the play.


Saban Alabama Coaching Staff Complete

Nick Saban has lured Clemson running backs coach Burton Burns to fill the same role at Alabama. Thomas Murphy reports that this should complete the staff, which should look like this: “Joe Pendry, offensive coordinator; Major Applewhite, quarterbacks; Burns, running backs; Ron Middleton, receivers; Steve Marshall, offensive line; Kevin Steele, defensive coordinator and linebackers; Bo Davis, defensive line; Kirby Smart defensive backs; Lance Thompson, defensive line.”

That’s a formidable lineup and includes a nice mix of proven veterans and up-and-comers.


NFL Draft 2006 – Round 1 #15 – St. Louis Rams (from Broncos) – CB Tye Hill

The Rams are on the clock. Again. They moved down four spots to pick up an extra 3rd rounder. A great move so long as they didn’t lose the guy at the top of their board.

Pick: Tye Hill, CB Clemson

Interesting choice. He was the #20 player on Goose’s board. Not horrible for the 15th pick, I guess, but he wasn’t even the best corner on the board. FSU’s Antonio Cromartie (#14) and South Carolina’s Johnathan Joseph (#19) were still available. Apparently, the Rams had them ranked differently.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.