National Champions

National Champions

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

McGlockton's Death Another Tragedy From The 1991 Team

McGlockton’s Death Another Tragedy From 1991 Team
By Scott Rhymer

As Clemson prepares this week to win our first ACC Championship since 1991, sad news came from California as we learned that former Tiger great Chester McGlockton passed way today.

My most vibrant memory of McGlockton was his touchdown in the 1989 Gator Bowl, which was Danny Ford’s last game as coach for the Tigers. I can also remember Chester wearing the purple jersey tops when we hosted NC State in Death Valley for the time ever. Chester was so large, he could not tuck the new jersey in despite several warnings from the officials.

Chester was recruited and played under Danny Ford, but made his name in the 1990 and 1991 season under Ken Hatfield.

My co-host on the Tiger Pregame Show, Will Vandervort, stated a very sobering fact earlier today. Vandervort noted that with McGlockton's death today, four players from the 1991 ACC Championship team have died. The other three were Wayne Simmons (DE), Terry Smith (WR) and Curtis Whitley (C). All four were starters during that 1991 championship season.

Our thoughts and prayers at the Tiger Pregame Show go out to Chester’s family and friends. Here’s to hoping big Chester is looking down on Clemson this weekend as our 2011 team tries to do something that has not been done since McGlockton roamed the defensive line, an ACC Championship.

Below is the staff report Clemson released this afternoon.

Chester McGlockton Dead at Age 42

All-ACC Defensive Tackle on Clemson’s 1991 ACC Championship TeamNovember 30, 2011Clemson, SC—Former Clemson All-ACC defensive tackle and NFL Pro Bowl player Chester McGlockton died in California on Wednesday morning. He was 42 years old.

The announcement was made by Stanford University, where McGlockton was in his second season as a defensive assistant. The cause of death was not immediately announced. Funeral arrangements are pending.

"Everyone in the Stanford football family is deeply saddened by the passing of Chester McGlockton," Stanford coach David Shaw said in a statement. "For the past two seasons, Chester has been a valuable member of our football staff and a wonderful friend to us all. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Chester's wife, Zina, and their two children."

McGlockton entered Clemson in 1988 and red-shirted that season. He then played with distinction from 1989-91. The Tigers posted a 29-6-1 for the three years he played, including a 9-2-1 record in 1991 when the Tigers won the ACC Championship.McGlockton made first-team All-ACC in 1991 and was a freshman All-American in 1989. He tied for the regular season ACC lead in sacks as a freshman in 1989 with six, then had a seventh in the bowl victory over West Virginia. He sacked West Virginia quarterback Major Harris, then recovered the ball in the end zone of a touchdown.
The native of Whiteville, NC finished his career with 20.5 sacks, still eighth in Clemson history even though he played just three years. Clemson led the nation in total defense in 1990 and led the nation in rushing defense in 1991 with McGlockton starting on the defensive line along with future pros Brentson Buckner, John Johnson and Levon Kirkland.


He turned professional after his junior season and was the 16th pick of the April 1992 draft by the Oakland Raiders.McGlockton's final NFL season was 2003 with the New York Jets. He also played with the Denver Broncos and Kansas Chiefs, as well as the Raiders. He registered 555 tackles, 51 sacks, 14 forced fumbles and four interceptions in his career. He played 12 years and 179 games in his NFL career, the top 10 totals among former Clemson players in the NFL.He made four straight Pro Bowl trips starting in 1994, when he had a career-high 9½ sacks with three forced fumbles and 48 tackles for the Raiders.

McGlockton had a legendary high school career and was a second-team USA Today All-American at Whiteville High. He still holds the North Carolina Prep record for interception returns for touchdowns in a career with nine.

After turning pro in 1992, he bought shoes and uniforms for the Whiteville basketball team for more than a decade. He also purchased cleats annually for the football team. In 2000, in the twilight of his NFL career, he purchased state championship rings – estimated to cost $450 each – for the entire basketball team and the cheerleaders.

McGlockton was recruited out of Whiteville, NC to Clemson by current Clemson Associate Athletic Director for Football Operations Woody McCorvey, who was an assistant on Danny Ford’s staff in 1988.

“We had grown very close over the last five years,” said McCorvey. “In fact I talked with him yesterday. He didn’t talk a lot when he was younger, but he had developed a strong faith in recent years. Chester wanted to go into coaching. At the National Coaches Convention last January he told me he wanted to go into coaching because he wanted to give back to people who had done so much for him. He felt that was the best way to do it.”

“We spent a lot of time at that convention together and I felt like I was with my son, helping him get into the profession. We also spent a lot of time together when he was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame last May.”

“He was smart, a good husband and father. And, he was a great football player, the best defensive linemen I have ever been around.”

*******

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Broadcast time in Charlotte will be 2:00-5:00 next Saturday. If you have not done so, download the free Tune In App for your Droid or Ipad phone so you can stream WCCP during the season on your phones. You can also search for the new WCCP 104.9 FM App on the Droid/IPAD market place on those systems. The App is free and allows you to stream WCCP on your phone.

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Our Fans, Just Like Our Team, Need To Put On "Big Boy Pants"

Our Fans, Just Like Our Team, Need To Put On “Big Boy Pants”
By Scott Rhymer

First, a disclaimer.

I hate losing to anyone. I certainly hate losing to lousy football teams (NC State).

I hate losing to my arch rival, especially when it is three years in a row.

And more than losing, I hate losing when you look pitiful.

I believe that many people get on the Internet and on talk radio to vent, and if those formats allow people to get their frustration off of their chest, then I am all for it. But I found something really odd in the aftermath of the NC State and South Carolina losses.

Some people are throwing in the towel before the biggest game of the season and arguably the biggest game in 20 years. Remember, we secured a chance to play for the ACC Title way back on November 12th when Chandler Cantanzaro’s kick sailed through the uprights and onto the hill at Clemson’s Death Valley. At that moment, the thought of playing for an ACC Title in Charlotte was so thick on every fan’s mind that the crush of anticipation for tickets to this Saturday’s game was overwhelming.

And then the wheels came off for our team. And, for that matter, the wheels also came off for some of you.

If the pattern of the past few weeks holds true, Clemson is going to lose to the Hokies in Charlotte on Saturday night. Funny thing about college football, however, is that rarely do things stay the same for any extended period of time.


Clemson’s slump has been about as long as Virginia Tech’s run. In the world of college football karma, both schools are due for a change. In a 60 minute football game, the fine line between success and failure is razor thin and there is still reason to believe that Clemson can find a way to sharpen the blade.

But the full irony of the past two weeks is very simple to me looking at it from a perch. The very things that some of our fans bemoan on the Internet and talk radio about our football team are the very same things that they, as fans, are exhibiting in the face of adversity.

If I did a word search on the terms that Clemson fans are using with our football team right now, at the top of the list would be “soft”, “lack of confidence”, and “lack of effort”. To coin a phrase that I have used many times on the Pregame Show, our fans want our team and coaches to put on their “big boy pants” and quit playing like a scared child.

I am in that group. Our team has been soft, played with a lack of confidence and effort, and there has been nothing about the past two weeks that makes me stick my chest out in pride for our football team as a whole. We have not worn the “big boy pants” the past two weeks. But I will walk into Bank of America Stadium Saturday proud of my team.

But when I see fans and web sites and bloggers throw in the towel on this season just a week before the biggest game in 20 years, I wonder if they are all suffering from the same things that they criticize of our team?

In other words, some of you are demanding more of our football team and coaches that you are willing to invest yourself.

There will come a time that is appropriate for criticizing or praising this team. There will be a time to review the season, as a whole, and determine where it should be classified.

That time is 4 days from now, when the fate of the season will have been decided on the field in Charlotte. If our players tank it in Charlotte and our coaches fail to give us a great game plan on both sides of the ball, have at it with the criticism of a season that could have been. Until then, you are selling this team short.

Tuesday, among the quotes from Swinney and Steele that will get air play, Dabo summed it up for me with a quote that got lost in the shuffle by saying, "There are so many quitters and losers in this world it makes me want to vomit ... the biggest problem in America people just want to quit and go home with their ball."

Coach Swinney is right. I don’t want our team to quit. I don’t want my coaches to quit. And I don’t want you to quit. America has too many quitters, and we don’t need to add to that pool.

If the culture of this program is going to change, our team is going to have to play physical football with “big boy pants”. And our fan base (yes you, Mr. Internet guy) is also going to have to put on their “big boy pants” when the chips are down.

December 3rd is a day when our Tigers are playing a football game. That can’t be said for many other teams with similar resources and traditions as we have. So to give up now, before the result is known, is not what Clemson should be about.

*******

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Broadcast time in Charlotte will be 2:00-5:00 next Saturday. If you have not done so, download the free Tune In App for your Droid or Ipad phone so you can stream WCCP during the season on your phones. You can also search for the new WCCP 104.9 FM App on the Droid/IPAD market place on those systems. The App is free and allows you to stream WCCP on your phone.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reflecting On July’s Five Keys To Winning An ACC Championship
By Scott Rhymer


In July, I wrote in this blog about the importance of winning an ACC Championship in 2011. It has been 20 years since we have pulled of this feat, and that is way to long for a program like ours.

The blog from July centered around 5 keys to winning an ACC Championship. You can read the original article here:
http://tigerpregameshow.blogspot.com/2011_07_01_archive.html

Despite the poor play over the final few games of the season, we are four days away from having a chance to indeed win an ACC Championship. So today, I thought I would reflect and grade my original 5 Keys that were stated back in July. Below are those grades.

Key #1 From July-Change Of Culture On Offensive Line

C-

I was tempted to put an F for this grade, but I had to step back and realize that my impression of the offensive line is tainted by the last 2 weeks. The production the last two weeks has been a resounding F, and I don’t care if Philip Price is hurt or not. What we have seen these past two weeks is unacceptable and it will not allow us to win Saturday night if it continues.

However, through 10 games the offensive line did an average job on most days in pass protecting for Tajh Boyd and did an adequate job opening running lanes for the Tiger running backs.

Through 10 games, the offensive line had only given up 18 sacks on the year (seven of those in the first two games) for an average of 1.8 sacks per game. Considering we had thrown the ball so much and the number of plays we were running was dramatically up from the year before, the 1.8 sacks per game was an acceptable number.

The past 2 games, the offensive line has given up 11 sacks. Again, that is simply not acceptable.

Through 10 games, the offensive line helped the running game amass 170.8 yards per game. Again, that is not going to break any Clemson or ACC records, but considering the fact our offense during those 10 games was based on throwing the ball and big plays, churning out 171 yards per game was acceptable.

The past 2 games, the running game has only churned out 104 yards on the ground (52 yards per game). Unfortunately, that is not going to be good enough to win on Saturday.

So trying to figure out if the offensive line culture has changed, you have to look at 10 games versus 2. The offensive line played good enough to get us to the championship game, but if they perform like they have the past two weeks it will certainly not be enough to get us an ACC Championship Game win. So, for now, a C- seems an appropriate grade.

Key #2 From July-Kick The Football Through The Uprights
A-

In the July blog, I anticipated that we would have several close games this year where we would have to make field goals in order to win. In 2010, we lost games because we could not make critical field goals at critical times.

We have not had the heart stopping number of finishes that I anticipated in 2011, but Chandler Cantanzaro is responsible for the game winning kick against Wake Forest that cemented our spot in Charlotte. Cantanzaro has been very steady this year, completing 19 of his 24 kicks with a long of 47 yards. In addition, Cantanzaro has not missed from inside of 29 yards, the “gimmies” in college football that we so often see kickers miss.

If Cantanzaro finishes the year strong, he may go down as the most successful kicker in Clemson football history as a freshman and sophomore combined. While he only has the one dramatic late game winner, he has been a steady rock throughout the season and he has certainly kicked it good enough for us to win an ACC Title.


Key #3 From July-Beat Florida State On September 24th
A+


As I said in July, the Florida State schedule made it imperative that Clemson beat the Seminoles in Death Valley on September 24th in order to earn the Atlantic Division Championship. As it all shook out, Clemson could have lost the game vs. Florida State and still beaten NC State two weeks ago to punch the ticket to Charlotte. But that is a risk that I did not want us to take when I wrote the blog in July, and after seeing us on the field vs. State two weeks ago my fears were justified.

Simply put, the Atlantic Division is going to be a battle between the Tigers and Seminoles for many years to come. You won’t always have to beat the Seminoles to earn a place in Charlotte, but depending on the schedules of Clemson and Florida State and what type of quality competition each team draws from the Coastal Division, this game will be huge every year. This year it was paramount for Clemson to win because the game was at home and the Seminoles avoided having to play Virginia Tech from the Coastal Division. In other years, the shoe may be on the other foot.

But this year it was critical and this year we got it done. By taking over the Atlantic Division with the win, Clemson allowed itself a “mulligan” as the season wore down. The loss to NC State did not cost Clemson a shot at Charlotte, mainly because Clemson took care of the Seminoles in September.

Key #4 From July-Andre Ellington As A 1,000 Yard Rusher

B

Andre Ellington is clearly not the same back as he was prior to his injury last November. Big plays are almost non-existent for Ellington, something that was his trademark during his first two years at Clemson.

Even without the big plays, Ellington has quietly churned out 937 yards and most certainly appears to be heading for 1,000 yards with two games remaining on the schedule.

Ellington has averaged 4.9 yards per carry and he has punched it into end zone 9 times on the ground. He may have been at his best last Saturday night against South Carolina, but he was not given the ball enough times to see if he could carry the Tigers on offense. My guess is that South Carolina would have adjusted to slow him down, but we will never know if they would have been able to because we did not give Ellington enough carries.

Considering he has been so limited in the big play category and considering he has been injured this year, Ellington’s yards this year have been good if not spectacular and worthy of a B grade.

Key #5 From July-Catch A Break Or Two
A

Clemson caught Florida State without its starting quarterback and played Virginia Tech in Blacksburg at the low point of the season for the Hokies. Boston College proved to be a terrible football team and North Carolina lost their head coach a few weeks before the season started and never fully recovered or lived up to their expectations.

Clemson was able to come back from double digit deficits in multiple games and was the beneficiary of a few Wake Forest missed field goals that allowed Cantanzaro the chance to kick the Tigers into Charlotte.

And there is no reason to be ashamed of any of that. Teams that win Championships sometimes get a few breaks along the way. The bottom line is that Clemson has earned the right to play for the ACC Title this year for a body of work over the course of the season that was good enough to be the representative of the Atlantic Division. Good breaks and fortune were a part of Boston College, Wake Forest, and Florida State’s run to the Atlantic Division titles over the years as well, and you never heard any of those teams apologizing.

Now What? Can We Win The ACC?
As stated above, we graded out good enough to earn our trip to the title game, but the original point of the blog was to determine the keys to winning the ACC Championship…not just playing in the title game.

Goal #2 from July (beating FSU) is not applicable Saturday, but the other four are still as applicable in the game on Saturday as they were back in July. Certainly, the grade of C- for the offensive line play is taking into account the entire season and not the last two weeks. Clemson has no shot of winning Saturday night if the offensive line grades out as an F like the past two weeks. Cantanzaro has to put his kicks through when he gets the chance, Ellington has to be a factor in the running game, and the Tigers are going to need Virginia Tech to make some mistakes while we get a break or two on our side.

It is almost as if the things that mattered the most back in July will play pivotal and key roles in December. Funny how a season works out like that!

It has been 20 years since Clemson has won an ACC Title and we can all agree that is way too long for a program like this. The bad news is that our performance the last two weeks will not even be close to being good enough to end that streak on Saturday night.

The good news is that we have still, in December, have a chance. This team has played well enough at times over the course of the majority of the season to win this Saturday night if they can rekindle that momentum. Finding the Clemson of late September and early October is the goal of the coaches and players this week in practice.

We will anxiously wait and see. A 20 year drought of ACC Championships depends on it.

*******

Broadcast time in Charlotte will be 2:00-5:00 next Saturday. If you have not done so, download the free Tune In App for your Droid or Ipad phone so you can stream WCCP during the season on your phones. You can also search for the new WCCP 104.9 FM App on the Droid/IPAD market place on those systems. The App is free and allows you to stream WCCP on your phone.


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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Notes And Picks Update
by Scott Rhymer

I will continue my policy of not commenting on the game in detail via this blog for at least 24 hours after a loss. I think fans will light up the Internet and Talk Radio Sunday and Monday and echo any sentiment that I could offer here, anyway.

The biggest punch in the face, albeit true, came from South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier last night. Spurrier, in the afterglow of the win, said: “They don’t own us now, that’s for sure”.

Truer words have never been spoken.

So we have to pick ourselves up and try to do what now seems impossible…beat Virginia Tech and win an ACC Championship for the first time in 20 years. It has been my singular goal for this team this year, and amazingly we will get that chance next Saturday Night. Based on how the two teams are playing right now, Clemson winning Saturday night would be the biggest upset in ACC Championship Game history.

Random Notes From The Rivalry Game
*Tajh Boyd broke the Clemson single season records for touchdown passes and touchdown responsibility Saturday when he threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Allen in the first half. It was Boyd’s 28th touchdown pass of the year, breaking the mark of 27 by Cullen Harper in 2007. It was also his 32nd scoring pass in terms of touchdown responsibility (TD passes and rushing scores). It broke the record of 31 set by Woody Dantzler in 2001.

*Duane Allen scored his sixth receiving touchdown of the season Saturday. It is the second most for a tight end in Clemson history. He is now just one short of the record of seven by Bennie Cunningham in 1974.

*Andre Branch had two sacks Saturday for 16 yards. It gives him 10.5 sacks for the year, tied for the fourth most in Clemson history for a season. The record is 16 by Keith Adams in 1999, and Da’Quan Bowers had 15.5 last year. Gaines Adams had 12.5 in 2006. Adrian Dingle had 10.5 in 1998.

*Chandler Catanzaro kicked two field goals Saturday and has now made five in a row dating to his 43-yarder that won the Wake Forest game. He is now 19-24 for the year and 7-10 on field goals of 40 yards or more. He is now 13-19 on field goals of 40 yards or more in his career and that .683 percentage is the best in Clemson history.

*Sammy Watkins was held to four receptions for 39 yards Saturday, but did go over the 70 catch mark for the season. He now has 72 for the season, third in Clemson history. The record is 88 by Aaron Kelly in 2007 and Rod Gardner had 80 in 1999. Watkins now has 1073 receiving yards for the season, third in Clemson history, but he needs just 12 receiving yards in the ACC Championship game to break Rod Gardner’s record of 1084 set in 1999.

*Andre Ellington needs 63 yards in the ACC Championship game to reach 1000 yards for the year. When he does it will make this just the third team in Clemson history with a 1000-yard rusher and a 1000-yard receiver.

Picks Update
Below is an update of our weekly picks from the Tiger Pregame Show.

Will's SEC Lock Of The Week was Auburn plus the 19 points over Alabama and the Crimson Tide rolled. Will is now 7-5 on the year in his lock of the week.

Scott's ACC Lock Of The Week was Virginia over Virginia Tech and that did not happen as the Hokies won the instate battle. That moves me to 8-4 on the season in my lock of the week.

All three of us picked the Gamecocks over the Tigers, and we were all fairly close in our picks.

Scott picked South Carolina 34-17, which is a differential of just 4 points.
Roy picked South Carolina 28-21, which is a differential of 14 points.
Will picked South Carolina 29-28, which is a differential of 20 points.

Scott Rhymer had the closest pick of the week, tightening the weekly winner standings:
Roy Philpott-5
Will Vandervort-4
Scott Rhymer-3

Yearly Differential Standings After Week 12:
Scott (-252 points)
Roy (-275 points)
Will (-277 points)

Will Vandervort and Roy Philpott tied in the Bottom Line Segment and the tiebreaker goes to Roy because his pick was closer. Roy now leads 7-5 in the Bottom Line Segment race.

Broadcast time in Charlotte will be 2:00-5:00 next Saturday. If you have not done so, download the free Tune In App for your Droid or Ipad phone so you can stream WCCP during the season on your phones. You can also search for the new WCCP 104.9 FM App on the Droid/IPAD market place on those systems. The App is free and allows you to stream WCCP on your phone.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

3 Non-Negotiables To Win In Columbia

3 Non-Negotiables To Win In Columbia
By Scott Rhymer

Rivalry week comes upon us with two teams that have identical records but whom are apparently heading in opposite directions.

I have been asked hundreds of times this week: Can Clemson win Saturday night? Well the short answer is yes. Let’s be blunt, South Carolina is not Goliath while we stand as a mere David. The Gamecocks, at their best this year, have been slightly above average. They have won nine games by playing smart and not doing the bad things that can get you beat against a schedule that is grossly overrated based on the image and reputation of the SEC.

Using the RPI index, Clemson’s schedule this year has been more difficult than the Gamecocks. South Carolina’s opponents had an average ranking of 67.36 in the RPI, whereas Clemson’s opponents had an average ranking of 63.64.

South Carolina’s nine wins came against teams that had an average RPI ranking of 79.00, whereas Clemson’s wins came against teams that had an average RPI ranking of 69.33.

Both of those figures are significant. Clemson comes in to this game against the Gamecocks a more “battle tested” football team, an almost polar opposite of a typical Clemson/South Carolina game.

So while Clemson has played a tougher schedule, the question still remains whether the Tigers can go into Williams Brice and pull the upset. Below are three things that I deem non-negotiable if Clemson is going to win Saturday night.

Man Up
Leading up to the loss last week against NC State, the overall toughness of this team had not been in question. Sure, there were games where the Tigers played better than other days. But at the end of those games, being tough was never an overriding negative with this particular team.

But 60 minutes in Raleigh drastically changed that perception as the Tigers were physically whipped by the Wolfpack in a pitiful display of manhood. What Clemson trotted out on the field in Raleigh was a soft football team that looked like they did not want to be physical. I don’t care if you are a starter or a backup having to play a starting role, to allow another football team to take your manhood and shred it into 1000 pieces is a disgrace to the scholarship that you have been given. I’m talking offensive line, linebacker, and secondary when I write the above statement.

So was that soft play something that will define this team or is it something that was a one-week anomaly? The Gamecocks will punch Clemson straight in the mouth Saturday night to test that question, and the answer will do more to define the outcome of this game than just about any other aspect. Simply put, Clemson must equal the physicality of the Gamecocks Saturday night if the Tigers have any hope of winning.

Tajh Boyd
Tajh had a shaky Spring under this new offense, throwing the ball in the wrong places at the wrong times. All that seemed to disappear once the season started; leading most to believe that the extensive amount of time Tajh had put into film review over the summer as the reason for the improvement. Then, like an unexpected earthquake, all of those bad decisions returned in a thunderous roar during the last quarter of the season.

In his defense, Boyd never had a chance last week vs. the Wolfpack because of the soft play up front on the offensive line. But the previous games against Georgia Tech and Wake Forest looked eerily similar to the Spring, and nothing Boyd did Saturday while running for his life against NC State have calmed those worries.

Boyd is a good quarterback that is in a rut. He’s thinking too much when he should be making plays and he is trying to make plays too much when he should be thinking. Tajh Boyd circa Florida State and North Carolina (two teams with similar defenses as South Carolina) is a recipe for a win in Columbia. Tajh Boyd circa Georgia Tech or Wake Forest is a recipe for a loss in Columbia. Which one we get remains to be seen.

Conner Shaw’s Legs
On a normal day, Stephen Garcia was a better quarterback than Conner Shaw. When Garcia played like his alter ego, Shaw was a better quarterback. The upside of Shaw is not what it was with Garcia, but there is still plenty of reason to believe that Shaw can win the game for the Gamecocks on Saturday night.

Most of that worry comes with Shaw’s legs, nothing like Michael Vick but enough to kill you with a slow death. Shaw has the ability to move chains and keep Clemson from playing aggressive against a suspect Gamecock offensive line.

With all due respect to Shaw and the Gamecocks receivers (including Alshon Jeffery), the Gamecocks are not going to win this game by throwing the ball all over the place for 350 plus yards. The reason I know this is that Shaw and those receivers have not been able to do that against anybody this year. When the Gamecocks have been their best on offense, it has been with Shaw running, Wilds running, and the mid to intermediate routes from their wide receivers to pick up first downs. Trust me when I say that could work very well for the Gamecocks against Clemson based on what we have done on defense this year, so this is a major concern.

Simply put, Shaw can’t be allowed to run the ball effectively. Make the Gamecocks beat you by throwing the ball or by having Brandon Wilds rack up the yards. If either of those things happens, you have to tip the cap to the Gamecocks for their execution. But just don’t let your death come with the legs of Shaw, which is entirely possible if our linebackers play bad leverage and angles all night like they are prone to do.

Keys To The Game-Honorable Mention
Protect the football: I sure would like to see a day when we can run Mike Bellamy on the field without closing our eyes knowing a fumble is about to come. Until that time comes, however, he can’t be given snaps. At least not on the Gamecock’s side of the field. In addition, Clemson can’t lose the turnover battle on the road against a ranked team. That is not unique to Clemson…that goes for every team in America when they go on the road.


Run the ball with someone other than Andre Ellington: Ellington, due to his injuries and because our offensive line can’t seem to dominate, is not the same back he was last year prior to his injury. We still need Ellington to get the ball, and he has been very close to breaking a long run over the past few weeks. But he needs some help in loosening up the defense from other areas. Boyd running from the QB position is one way this could help. Sammy Watkins on the jet sweep is another. But running the football with success in Columbia will go a long way to putting this team in position to win.


Make your kicks: This has all the appearance of a 4th quarter football game on Saturday night. So Chandler Cantazaro is my new best friend, because a perfect night by Chandler is going to be critical in a close game.


Chicken Curse: Never underestimate the value of Ben Tillman’s curse. In some ways, Clemson’s loss in Raleigh compounded with South Carolina’s wins over Florida and The Citadel seems to be Mr. Tillman’s way of playing the Gamecocks as fools. The whole mood of this game has changed since mid-season when most felt Clemson was the better team. Those tables have turned. The Gamecocks are riding high, even if they have no really impressive wins at the root of their season. If ever there was a time for Tillman to bring his pitchfork, Saturday night is ripe.

*****


Broadcast time in Columbia will be 1:30-4:45. If you have not done so, download the free Tune In App for your Droid or Ipad phone so you can stream WCCP during the season on your phones. You can also search for the new WCCP 104.9 FM App on the Droid/IPAD market place on those systems. The App is free and allows you to stream WCCP on your phone.


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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tiger Pregame Show To Broadcast Outside WB Stadium Saturday

The Tiger Pregame Show, driven by D&D Ford, will broadcast their 114th consecutive show live on location where the Tigers play this Saturday.

Scott Rhymer, Will Vandervort, and Roy Philpott will break down this huge football game for three hours, beginning at 1:30 on WCCP 104.9 Talk Sports.

This is Rivalry Week, and the Tiger Pregame Show will continue its tradition of broadcasting in Columbia from a location outside of Williams Brice Stadium so that Clemson fans can be a part of the show. This year, the Tiger Pregame show will broadcast from the parking area of S&G Builder Appliance on Bluff Road, just two blocks from Williams Brice Stadium.

The broadcast location is available for fans to come by and watch the show and show your support for Clemson. All of the parking spots at S&G Builder Appliance are sold out, but you are welcome to come by and bring a tailgate chair and spend part of your day Saturday watching the broadcast of the show.

The address of S&G is 1212 Bluff Road and is located near the South Carolina football practice fields and only two blocks from Williams Brice Stadium. Broadcast time is 1:30 until 4:45 on Saturday.

Special thanks to Clemson alum Robert Shealy, owner of S&G Builder Appliance, for providing this location for the Tiger Pregame Show.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pick Yourself Up And Play Clemson Football

Pick Yourself Up And Play Clemson Football
By Scott Rhymer

This is the greatest rivalry in college sports. Don’t tell me otherwise. There is no other rivalry in this universe that impacts you and me as much as Clemson vs. South Carolina.

Others will tell you that games in other parts of the country are more respected than Clemson and South Carolina, but I am not hearing any of that nonsense. Alabama and Auburn mean nothing to me. Michigan and Ohio State mean nothing to me. Florida and Florida State mean nothing to me.

I care only about Clemson University. And the only team that is on our schedule that occupies 365 days of my year is the University of South Carolina. When media members write that this rivalry means nothing they obviously write that from the same position as I would write about Auburn/Alabama. That position is called ambivalence.

Clemson vs. South Carolina to you and to me is far from ambivalent.

So we stand this week as a program that has a bloody nose. Keep in mind; we earned that bloody nose by walking into the sliding glass door as if we did not know the door was shut. We got that bloody nose by playing soft and whimpy in Raleigh to a team that had more pride in what they were doing than we did.

Some Clemson fans feel like they are walking through déjà vu under the Tommy Bowden era. Some Clemson fans have temporarily jumped off the boat. Some Clemson fans, rightfully so, are sick at the way our football team played last week in Raleigh.

I can’t change Raleigh. Dabo Swinney can’t change Raleigh. And our players can’t change Raleigh. I can only hope that Dabo Swinney and our football players recognize what a dreadful display of Clemson football was put forth last Saturday night. As they watched the film from the game, I’m sure it was obvious.

But, in all honesty, we are not going to know for sure if we have that pride until we see what type of mentality our team puts forth in Columbia. The players can say whatever they want in the press conference today, but the proof will be on the field in Williams Brice Saturday night.

Football is not complex, regardless of the fancy names of the plays, the crazy hand signals, the coach’s headsets, the vast amount of time watching film, and the in-game adjustments that are made. All of that is window dressing to what football really comes down to at its root.

Football is a simple game of who is tougher. Who is more of a man. And who wants it more.

It really is that simple. And the NC State Wolfpack were tougher and wanted it more than Clemson last Saturday night. And the result was the bloody nose that we received that is leaving a funk over Rivalry Week as we get ready to hit the road again.

Our coaches can’t coach any harder. Our fans can’t scream any louder at the games. Our donors can’t give any more money to IPTAY. Our administration can’t pay our coaches any more. None of those things will help us when we walk into Williams Brice Stadium.

The only thing that can make the trip to Columbia a better experience than the trip to Raleigh is the Clemson football players making a decision to man up and play football.

And when I say man up, I mean the complete opposite of what you did in Raleigh. It is easy for me to sit here behind a keyboard and tell our players to man up. I was not blessed with the size or the strength that it takes to excel in football. So my job, and the job of our fans, is relatively easy compared to the young men that put on those uniforms every Saturday. They have to lay the blood and sweat on the field while we sit in the stands or in our homes in front of the TV watching without working.

So I clearly recognize that the hard part of football is walking out on that field and laying it on the line like a good football player does. And I also realize Clemson can’t win every game. To be honest, I don’t mind losing a football game when I know we show up like men and play football like a Clemson program should. But that ain’t what happened in Raleigh and that ain’t going to work in Columbia, either.

Legends are made in rivalry games. Legends are made because we remember games like this. People won’t remember what you did against NC State but will never forget what you do against South Carolina.

And trust me when I say our players don’t want to be remembered for getting whipped physically against South Carolina. As embarrassing as last week was, you could multiply it by 10 if you lay that kind of egg in Columbia.

So do you want some good news? The good news is that our players are better and tougher than what we saw in Raleigh. I know it because I have seen it. Not last week in Raleigh. But it is there. That pride is there…trust me.

So I am asking that this Clemson football team pick itself up off the mat and play Clemson football on Saturday night in Columbia. If playing like a man is not enough for us to win Saturday night, I’ll walk away with head held high giving credit to South Carolina. From there, I can only hope to win the next week in Charlotte for a conference championship. Very few in Clemson Nation will criticize any football team that lays everything on the line and comes up short because they ran into a better team or a team that caught a couple of good breaks during the game.

But what is not acceptable is playing like we did in Raleigh. That is not only an affront to our manhood as a football program; it is not what Clemson football is about. Perfect we are not. But we are better than what we showed in Raleigh. Much better.


Young men in orange, pick yourself up and play Clemson football this Saturday night. If you do that, you will earn the respect of Clemson Nation. If you don’t, you will lose in Columbia and be forever remembered in a way that you don’t want to be remembered. Our fans were with you after the great wins vs. Auburn and FSU at home. Our fans were there to welcome you back from Blacksburg and from College Park. Our fans were there not just because you won the football game. But because you gave everything you had and laid it all out on the field like a Clemson football team should.

Believe me when I say Clemson Nation is still behind you. The wounds from Raleigh will heal when the turkey from Thanksgiving enters our belly. Our fans will roll down I-26 cautious, but fired up. When you look up into the stands Saturday night you will see a bunch of orange ready to do our small part to help you win the game against our greatest rival.

I believe (as many other Clemson fans do) that we are more like the team that beat Virginia Tech in Blacksburg than the team that lost to NC State in Raleigh.

And we are about to find out on Saturday night.

*****

Broadcast time in Columbia will be 1:45-4:45. If you have not done so, download the free Tune In App for your Droid or Ipad phone so you can stream WCCP during the season on your phones. You can also search for the new WCCP 104.9 FM App on the Droid/IPAD market place on those systems. The App is free and allows you to stream WCCP on your phone.


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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Notes Following Dissapointment In Raleigh

Sunday Notes Following Disappointment In Raleigh
By Scott Rhymer

As most of you know if you follow this blog or my previous posts on the Internet, I do not reflect on a game following a loss until Monday. I think rushing to the computer the day after a loss to try and make sense of it in a rational way is a tough thing to do. At least for someone like me who bleeds so hard for our football program.

My general thought is that we have more questions on this football team today than at any time since the preseason.

The health of this football team (Sammy Watkins, Philip Price, and Brandon Thomas) is maybe the single biggest variable in trying to determine if Clemson can win the state championship this Saturday vs. the Gamecocks. And let’s be honest, beating South Carolina is a must.

When all is said and done, this season will be defined not by the non-conference schedule in September. Not by the three game winning streak against top 25 teams. Not by the great comeback at Maryland or the heartbreaking losses Georgia Tech and NC State.

This season will be defined, and remembered, by what happens the next two weeks. If Clemson plays the way it has the past three games, going 0-2 in the next two weeks is an almost certainty. But teams rarely stay the same. So are we going to get better or is it going to get worse?

Finding a way to right the wrongs on this football team and win the next two games is all that matters right now.

Picks Update
Below is an update of our weekly picks from the Tiger Pregame Show.

Will's ACC Lock Of The Week was Wake Forest over Maryland and the Demon Deacons crushed Maryland. Will is now 7-4 on the year in his lock of the week.

Scott's SEC Lock Of The Week was Vanderbilt over Tennessee and that did not happen as the Volunteers won the instate battle. That moves me to 8-3 on the season in my lock of the week.

The Clemson/NC State picks were:
Scott picked Clemson 24-20, which is a differential of 28 points.
Will picked Clemson 27-17, which is a differential of 34 points.
Roy picked Clemson 34-23, which is a differential of 35 points.

Scott Rhymer had the closest pick of the week, tightening the weekly winner standings:
Roy Philpott-5
Will Vandervort-4
Scott Rhymer-2

Yearly Differential Standings After Week 11:
Scott (-248 points)
Will (-257 points)
Roy (-261points)

Will Vandervort won the Bottom Line Segment and now trails Roy Philpott by only one week (6-5 in Roy’s favor).

Broadcast time in Columbia will be 1:45-4:45. If you have not done so, download the free Tune In App for your Droid or Ipad phone so you can stream WCCP during the season on your phones. You can also search for the new WCCP 104.9 FM App on the Droid/IPAD market place on those systems. The App is free and allows you to stream WCCP on your phone.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Pressure Is Off As Tigers Go To Raleigh

Pressure Is Off As Tigers Go To Raleigh
By Scott Rhymer

Let me begin by saying that losing stinks. I’ve seen enough of it in my 35+ years following Clemson football. We have been blessed in that time frame to win more than we have lost on the football field. Nonetheless, losing is not a lot of fun.

My good friend Roy Philpott likes to use the phrase, “arranging the tea leaves”. I think I know what he means by that analogy, but regardless of what it really means I like the way it sounds! So as I arranged the tea leaves this week, I kept coming back to a very simple thought.

The pressure seems to have lifted.

That three game stretch early in the year was a stressful ride as we tried to find out exactly what this team was and whether it could handle beating good teams back to back to back. That pressure built more and more in the middle part of the season as the wins piled up and the BCS Ranking soared to #5.

The week before the Georgia Tech game, it was hard to sleep and you could feel that the weight of the world rested on our football program and a potential run at a National Championship. You would think the loss in Atlanta would have relieved that tension, but the realization that Clemson still needed to beat Wake Forest last week to punch the ticket to Charlotte left us in “must win” mode.

So as Cantanzaro’s kick sailed through the uprights last Saturday afternoon, I also sensed the pressure cooker was able to let off some steam. Go back and watch the video from the stands and the sideline as the kick went though. Happiness? Yes. Going bonkers? No.

More of a sense of relief than giddiness.

This week has been unlike many weeks in the history of Clemson football. Clemson knows exactly when and where and what time we get to play and win our first ACC Championship in 20 years. That day of pressure is coming, but not for two weeks.

The South Carolina Gamecocks hold a two game streak against us and we will have to walk into Williams Brice Stadium at night and try to end that streak. That day of pressure is coming, but not until next week.

NC State waits in Raleigh, and I get the feeling that this is a game that our coaches, players, and fans are ready to let loose on. Nothing that happens in Raleigh (short of injuries) has any real impact on how this football team will be judged in history.

And that is a nice feeling after a season of sitting on the edge.

I think our coaches are in a great position to make decisions that they know don’t impact our ACC title dreams. If we need to sit Sammy Watkins, we are afforded the option to sit him without risking at trip to Charlotte. If we want to dip into the playbook and try a few new things, we have the option to do that. If we want to put a young player on the field for a critical down to see if they can live up to their potential, we can do it.

I think the same idea flows to the players. It’s time to go out and have fun on the field. Don’t play stupid and reckless, but don’t worry about making a mistake. Fly to the football, take a chance on an interception, play physical, and have fun.

And our fans, many of which will ride up to Raleigh on Saturday, can enjoy watching our Tigers play without melting down on every bad play or biting fingernails in every tense moment. Watch the game, make a lot of noise for the Tigers, and enjoy college football in the dusk of the 2011 season.

You may say this blog is “hedging my bet”, giving a safety net to the ego if Clemson loses in Raleigh on Saturday. Don’t get me wrong, if we lose I won’t be a fun guy to be around Saturday night just like I am not fun to be around after any other loss.

But I have enjoyed this week and I am looking forward to going to Raleigh later today. I’m not worried about the fate of our season. I’m not worried about the issues we have on defense or the turnovers on offense. I'm not worried that with every play on Saturday the fate of the ACC will ebb and flow.

Those worries can wait for another day, coming really soon.

For now, I’m ready to enjoy the simplicity of a Clemson football weekend where there is no pressure. And to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I have felt that way. It is an unprecedented situation because of the two division format and because we were able to wrap it up early enough to have this week that does not matter in the ACC standings.

The pressure is off going to Raleigh. Now let’s see what this rare treat will bring.

************
Reminder that I will join Mickey Plyler Friday morning at 6:20 am to preview the NC State game.

Broadcast time in Raleigh inside Carter Finley Stadium on Saturday will be 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. If you have not done so, download the free Tune In App for your Droid or Ipad phone so you can stream WCCP during the season on your phones. You can also search for the new WCCP 104.9 FM App on the Droid/IPAD market place on those systems. The App is free and allows you to stream WCCP on your phone.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

5 Random Thursday Thoughts Looking Towards NC State

5 Random Thursday Thoughts Looking Towards NC State
By Scott Rhymer


About 24 hours away from Clemson hitting the road once again this year, with Raleigh on the agenda and the first 10 win season since 1990 on the line. Here are a few random thoughts on this Thursday before Raleigh.

O’Brien And NCSU
If there is a more perplexing disappointment in the ACC other than Tom O’Brien and his tenure at NC State, I can’t think of it. NC State has the facilities and fan base to be a major player in football in this conference. When the Wolfpack finally decided to give up the cheesy Chuck Amato and hire a respectable football coach in Tom O’Brien 4 years ago, I immediately felt like the Wolfpack would quickly rise. In his 5th year, O’Brien has 3 losing season and 1 winning season and could be headed for their 4th losing season if they can’t pull off the upset this Saturday against Clemson. O’Brien’s work at Boston College was nothing short of miraculous, and I can’t figure out why that has not translated to Raleigh.

Blog About IPTAY
As a reminder, ticket allocations will take place today for the ACC Championship Game. I wrote about this impending day of reckoning here:
http://tigerpregameshow.blogspot.com/2011/11/ticket-situation-for-acc-championship.html

As I said in the blog, IPTAY is in a no-win situation with the fans on this allocation. I even offered a tongue in cheek solution for the impossible decisions IPTAY had to make by saying they should reward those that bought tickets to the Car Care Bowl last year. So if you don’t get tickets today, please remember the priority system and how (sometimes) you can’t always get what you want (sorry Mick Jagger).

Co-Atlantic Division Champs?
Heather Dinich from ESPN suggested this week in her blog that Florida State could be Co-ACC Champs if they win Saturday and Clemson loses to NC State. I won’t spend much time explaining how wrong she is, but I will say this. There is no such thing as an ACC Atlantic Division Co-Champ. If Clemson and FSU end up tied in the standings, the tiebreaker is head to head, which Clemson won. To suggest anything else, especially on a blog from a national broadcasting company, shows complete incompetence.


Go ‘Heels!
Ok, that is odd to say. When I turn on the television tonight to watch the UNC and Virginia Tech game, I’ll be “pulling” for the Tarheels to win. Yes, that is a rare thing to do considering my general distaste for the baby blue. But I like the idea of Virginia Tech not wrapping up their Coastal Division title this weekend. If the Hokies win tonight and the Virginia Cavaliers lose Saturday, VT punches their ticket to Charlotte. If either VT loses or if both teams win, the final clinching will have to be delayed until next week’s VT/UVA game. Why does all of that matter? Primarily because of tickets to the ACC Championship game. The longer it is before VT or UVA clinches the more opportunity it is for Clemson fans to scarf up the remaining tickets offered on Stub Hub, etc. In other words, the longer it takes for the Coastal to be wrapped up, the more Clemson fans will be able to get inside Bank of America Stadium for the title game. Go Heels!

Sammy and CBS
If you did not see the special CBS did on Sammy Watkins and his family, this is a must watch. We all knew how special Sammy has been on the field, but his story is even more special. Below is the link to the video from CBS that has been posted on You Tube.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Q8fZxz1_Uw&feature=channel_video_title

Reminder that I will join Mickey Plyler Friday morning at 6:20 am to preview the NC State game.

Broadcast time in Raleigh inside Carter Finley Stadium on Saturday will be 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. If you have not done so, download the free Tune In App for your Droid or Ipad phone so you can stream WCCP during the season on your phones. You can also search for the new WCCP 104.9 FM App on the Droid/IPAD market place on those systems. The App is free and allows you to stream WCCP on your phone.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ticket Situation For ACC Championship Game Will Be A Train Wreck

Ticket Situation For ACC Championship Game Will Be A Train Wreck
by Scott Rhymer


That train you hear coming ‘round the bend is about to wreck on Thursday, November 17th. It is as inevitable as a noon football game in Clemson’s Death Valley.

Now before you call Travis Furbee in the IPTAY offices, please understand that he and all of the ticket folks within the IPTAY office are in an absolute no win situation.

To put it in simple terms using two generic Donors:







  • The IPTAY Donor that has amassed 500 points of priority wants to cash in on their generous giving and length of years giving by purchasing enough tickets for his family and friends. He has paid large sums of money over the years, and now that Clemson gets a shot to play for an ACC Title in a location close to his home, he is ready to reap his reward. Those with less priority points, in the mind of the 500 point Donor, are out of luck and should consider paying more in the future so they can reap rewards as well.



  • The IPTAY Donor that has amassed only 50 points of priority also wants to go the ACC Championship Game and is irate that those that have given more money over a longer period of time are gobbling up all the tickets. These folks buy season tickets and go to games just like the big donors and simply want a fair and reasonable chance to go to the game. They feel limiting the big donors from purchasing a dozen tickets or more would give more people from all different giving levels of IPTAY a chance to go to the game. Understanding they have given dramatically less money over fewer years than other donors, they still feel they are “owed” a reasonable chance to purchase tickets for the ACC Championship Game.



So, as you can clearly see, IPTAY is not going to come out smelling good on this one no matter what they did in the past or what they do from this point forward.

And it is a shame that fans will treat them that way.

IPTAY officially released a statement this week that reads:
The Athletic Ticket Office has received requests for tickets that have highly outweighed the number of tickets that Clemson will receive for the ACC Championship game. Ticket limits will be set according to IPTAY priority point totals. Clemson will try to accommodate as many IPTAY members as possible with this process. Ticket limits will be released on Thursday, November 17 on ClemsonTigers.com and via e-mail.

IPTAY sent out feelers seeing what type of interest fans would have in buying tickets for the title game. This was a smart move, as it gives IPTAY at least some reasonable idea of what type of demand there is for the supply of allocated tickets. This was not done in 2003 at the Chic-Fil-A Peach Bowl, so it appears IPTAY has found a better way of estimating the interest in the game compared to 2003.

But there still remains the issue of finding some type of formula to allocate tickets based on these tentative requests. Not everyone is going to get the number of tickets they requested, as evidenced by the fact that IPTAY stated in their release that the number of requests “highly outweighed” the number of tickets available. IPTAY now plans to unveil what decision they decided was most fair for their Donors.

And that is when the train wreck is going to happen.

Eleven months ago, finding someone that was willing to shell out money to see Clemson go waddle through the Meineke Car Care Bowl was a major challenge. Clemson’s reputation as traveling to bowls as well as anyone in the nation was put to the test last December against a South Florida team nobody in big-time college football cared about.

I don’t know how many Clemson fans went to the bowl game last year in Charlotte. Relative to previous bowl experiences, the numbers were down quite a bit and there was more blue (empty seats) in Bank of America Stadium than Clemson fans.

Clemson’s reputation in bowl games took a bit of a hit last year. One could argue that we took more people to the bowl game last year than most programs do with their bowl games. But being anything but great in bowl attendance is simply not what we have been as a football program for 30+ years and I know that others outside of the program noticed our light crowd.

So having recognized our light turnout last year in the bowl game, there is one solution that won’t be any more popular than what IPTAY will do Thursday but would certainly send a message for future bowl games that are less significant than what we will end up in this year.

I know there is no employee at Clemson that has the guts (and maybe rightfully so) to do this, but I think everyone who bought a ticket to the bowl game last year through IPTAY should get moved to the front of the line in buying ACC Championship tickets this year. That’s right. If you bought 3 tickets to the Meineke Car Care Bowl through IPTAY, you should get to buy 3 for the ACC Championship game.

There should be a reward for those that paid money out of their pockets during the Holiday Season to go watch a 6-6 football team that just got their rear end handed to them at HOME against South Carolina. Not to mention the fact that those that purchased Meineke Bowl tickets via Clemson and IPTAY were relegated to less attractive seats than those that bought via the bowl or Stub Hub or whatever. There should also be a reward for those that paid that money in a 6-6 season to play an opponent who did not have a player on their roster that any of us had ever heard of.

The bottom line is that there will be no right way of allocating tickets to Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game on Thursday. IPTAY can’t win. So why not find a way to search out those that sat through the lowest of lows and give them a chance to buy tickets to see Clemson play a game in the highest of highs?

I’m a realist. I know that is not going to happen. But it seems the only true and right thing to do with a situation that has no outcome other than a train wreck coming ‘round the bend.

As it stands, IPTAY is about to get a bloody nose in a messy train wreck that will make only a few happy. Maybe it will cause some to take a long, hard look at what they give and they may decide to change based on whether they get tickets or not on Thursday. You would like to think that this is just the start of a big run for Clemson, so this allocation issue is not going away over the next few years.

It is also possible that this allocation on Thursday will make people angry and give up; refusing to renew IPTAY accounts to Clemson in the future. The positive of some people bailing out of anger would be those that others will move up on the totem poll for their continued giving efforts!

Either way, a train wreck is coming with more losers and complainers than will be winners. And it will offer a brief distraction to what is really important…what happens on the field in that Championship game.

*******



Broadcast time in Raleigh will be 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. If you have not done so, download the free Tune In App for your Droid or Ipad phone so you can stream WCCP during the season on your phones. You can also search for the new WCCP 104.9 FM App on the Droid/IPAD market place on those systems. The App is free and allows you to stream WCCP on your phone.




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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

5 Questions I Want Asked At Press Conference

5 Questions I Want Asked At Press Conference
by Scott Rhymer

Press Conferences, by and large, are pretty boring. I will give Coach Swinney some measure of credit in that he tends to spice them up just a bit. And Kevin Steele, if in the mood, can be witty, funny, and scary all at the same time. But there are times when watching and listening to the Tuesday Press Conference is about as entertaining as watching paint dry.


So the Atlantic Division is wrapped up and the South Carolina game is still a week away. Clemson can earn the 10th win of the season if we can get by NCSU. But there is a bit of spice missing from this week’s buildup as the Tigers head on the road to Raleigh. So let's add a bit of spice to this week's Press Conference since the enormity of this game leaves a little to be desired.

Here are the questions I would like asked today at the Press Conference:

1. Is there a conspiracy against Clemson having a night game in Death Valley? Or, more importantly, is Clemson actively pushing to avoid night games by communicating with ESPN and the ACC off the record? We can't be this unlucky, can we?

2. Is it possible to create a sense of urgency with the football team BEFORE we get down by 14 points? We seem to play our best football when we are behind. And, quite frankly, this is not good for my heart or my fingernails which have been chewed to the bone.

3. Ask the players if they know what the Textile Bowl is. If they answer correctly, give them a free shirt from Tiger Town Graphics or Mr. Knickerbockers for knowing the correct answer. Then let them look on the tag and see where the shirt was made. If nothing else, it will be funny to see their reaction.

4. After seeing the Tribble Reese thingy on TV last week, I’d like to know if anybody at Clemson had any idea how silly the whole thing was going to make Clemson look when we agreed to go along with the whole plan? This controversy pales in comparison to some of the other major issues going on in college football. But somebody, somewhere, thought letting this thing take place was a good idea. I’d love to know who.

5. Is Clemson prepared for the inevitable backlash that is about to come when somebody does not get ACC Championship Game tickets through IPTAY? For some reason, I see the Chic-Fil-A Bowl vs. Tennessee back in 2003 about to hit again when tickets are mailed and/or denied to IPTAY holders. The demand is going to be greater than the supply. I’m not taking sides here…just curious if a plan is in place to diffuse that backlash?

I doubt we will get anything close to this entertaining since most of the writers are pretty boring people. But maybe, just maybe, somebody will step up and bring some form of entertainment to what certainly could be a ho-hum Tuesday Press Conference.

*******
Broadcast time in Raleigh will be 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. If you have not done so, download the free Tune In App for your Droid or Ipad phone so you can stream WCCP during the season on your phones. You can also search for the new WCCP 104.9 FM App on the Droid/IPAD market place on those systems. The App is free and allows you to stream WCCP on your phone.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

The Atlantic Division Ghost Proves To Be Mortal

The Atlantic Division Ghost Proves To Be Mortal
By Scott Rhymer

As you all know, Clemson has not won an Atlantic Coast Conference Championship since 1991. During the 13 years between Clemson’s last ACC Title in 1991 and the inaugural 2005 ACC Championship Game between the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions, Clemson finished in the top 2 of the ACC only 3 times (1996, 1999, and 2000).

But the ACC became a “different” conference in 2005, when the additions of Boston College and Virginia Tech led to the creation of the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions and an ACC Championship Game. In some ways, I guess you would say the expectations were heightened a bit to enter the showcase game and earn a BCS bowl berth.

What followed since that championship game inception was a frustrating four year stretch of time where former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden found multiple ways to have the ACC Championship game elude his program.

Bowden, and Clemson, chased a ghost.

In 2005, Clemson started 2-0 with wins over Texas A&M and Maryland before dropping three ACC games in a row in route to a 3rd place ACC finish in the Atlantic Division. Despite losing to Clemson, Florida State would represent the Atlantic in the inaugural ACC Championship Game.

In 2006, the Tigers jumped out to a 7-1 start with a captivating ESPN Game Day win over Georgia Tech that led to a top 12 ranking. But the Tigers got smashed in Blacksburg on a Thursday night and followed it up with an unexplainable home loss to Maryland the following week. Despite defeating Wake Forest earlier in the year, the Demon Deacons would represent the ACC in the 2006 ACC Championship game.

In 2007, Clemson jumped out to a 4-0 start before losing a bizarre game in Atlanta vs. Georgia Tech and following it up with a whipping at home against Virginia Tech. But the Tigers showed some fortitude, reeling off four straight wins to hold the Atlantic Division fate in our own hands with a home finale against Boston College with the ACC Title game going to the team that would win the game. Matt Ryan and the Eagles would score late and Aaron Kelly would let the ACC Atlantic Division slip through his hands and for the third straight year, Bowden’s Tigers would not make the title game.

With optimism running high, Clemson would start the 2008 season in the Georgia Dome against Alabama. The Crimson Tide would smack Clemson in the face, and after back to back losses to Maryland and Wake Forest later in September Bowden’s career at Clemson ended while Boston College advanced for the 2nd straight year to the ACC Championship game (despite the fact that the Tigers beat Boston College for Dabo Swinney’s first win as interim coach at Clemson).

Tommy Bowden provided many reasons and excuses for why Clemson, the most storied football program in the Atlantic Coast Conference, went 0-4 on his watch in the two division format in reaching the ACC Championship Game. Bowden seemed to be chasing a ghost. The ghost would appear every year in some form or frame of reference, only to disappear at the most inopportune time. Bowden seemed to believe, or at least perpetuate to the fan base, that the ghost of the ACC Championship game was something that would happen one day when fate intended it to. It was that passive tone in chasing his ghost that eventually cost Bowden his job as head of the Clemson program.

Enter Dabo Swinney and his new staff. Swinney treated the ACC race, almost from the start, as something that you have to take the offensive in earning. The Tigers took a roller coaster ride in 2009 behind the exceptional play of CJ Spiller and Michael Palmer to earn the first ever birth in the ACC Title game in Tampa. The Atlantic Division ghost, once considered the Holy Grail of the Clemson football program, was realized on a cold night in the very first full year of Dabo Swinney’s head coaching career. The Tigers would come up one play short of winning in Tampa, but the ghost seemed much more mortal.

So when Clemson stumbled and bumbled to a 6-7 season with awful offensive play in 2010, did Swinney refer to the quest of earning an Atlantic Division berth as elusive and simply left up to fate and timing? Nope. Swinney parted ways with Billy Napier and went out to find the best offensive coordinator he could.

Swinney did not believe in chasing ghosts. He believed in demanding excellence or parting ways.

This past Saturday, Clemson somehow pulled out a fortunate win against a Wake Forest team that played an almost perfect football game in trying to steal the Atlantic Division from Clemson’s grasp. The win guarantees that Clemson will earn a berth to the ACC Championship Game for the second time in three years. Clemson will join Florida State and Boston College as the only teams in the Atlantic Division to earn 2 trips to the title game. The Tigers will also have a chance to win an ACC Championship for the first time since 1991.

But maybe more important than the single accomplishment of earning the trip back to the ACC Championship game is a more important realization as a football program (administration, coaches, players, and fans) that winning the Atlantic Division is not like chasing a ghost.

For a program like Clemson, with the vast infrastructure, resources, tradition, and support…earning a trip to the ACC Championship game by virtue of winning the Atlantic Division should be an expectation, not a quest.

That fact is not intended to diminish the accomplishment of this team and coaching staff this year (or in 2009). You don’t have to be one of the top two teams in the ACC to play for the title, you only have to be the best team of the six in the Atlantic Division. But that is something that, admittedly, will not happen every year and still can be a difficult accomplishment even if you have a good football team. It takes hard work, good coaching, good players, and a bit of fortune.

But with all due respect to Boston College and Wake Forest, there is absolutely no reason that Clemson has had to play catch up in the past six years under the two division format in earning Atlantic Division berths. If Florida State, or even NC State, were outperforming Clemson on the football field during the past six years, one could understand that fact even if you could not be happy with it. FSU and NCSU both have the infrastructure to play big time football and falling short of those two programs would be disappointing but not shocking.

But the Wolfpack have proven to be miserable under the two division format, never even keeping themselves in contention as October turned to November these past six years. They are now the team that is chasing ghosts, ala Tommy Bowden and the pre-Dabo Tigers.

And Florida State is suffering the growing pains of allowing Bobby Bowden to lead the program about five years too long. The Seminoles won’t evaporate into irrelevance, even if the calls for their re-emergence as national powers may be premature. They chased a ghost in 2011, but they will be the major roadblock to Clemson repeating as Atlantic Division Champs in 2012.

But this year, it is Clemson. And for two of the past three years it has been Clemson. And two of the next three years it should be Clemson. And six out of the next nine years it should be Clemson. Once upon a time, our program did not chase ghosts. Our program won championships.

Some of you will read this and think that I am piling on Tommy Bowden for his inability to get Clemson to the ACC Championship Game. Maybe some of you think I am giving Dabo Swinney too much credit in getting Clemson to the ACC Championship Game two of the past three years.

Maybe it is a little bit of both. But I was tired of chasing ghosts and I’m thankful we now have a relevant football program. The only major difference the past three years than the previous four years in the two division format was the fact that now Dabo Swinney is calling the shots. For that, Swinney has to earn some measure of credit for changing the culture of this program.

Dabo has also proven that he does not believe in chasing ghosts. He has single-handedly turned that ghost into a mere mortal.

******

Broadcast time in Raleigh will be 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. If you have not done so, download the free Tune In App for your Droid or Ipad phone so you can stream WCCP during the season on your phones. You can also search for the new WCCP 104.9 FM App on the Droid/IPAD market place on those systems. The App is free and allows you to stream WCCP on your phone.


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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Notes After Winning The Atlantic Division

Sunday Notes After Winning The Atlantic Division
By Scott Rhymer

It was not pretty. Actually, it was quite ugly. But the Clemson Tigers punched their ticket to Charlotte for the 2nd time in 3 years. Clemson has earned the chance to win an Atlantic Coast Conference Championsip in three weeks in Charlotte, something that has been the primary focus from this blog since last January when the focus of this program needed a change.

I will have a blog on Monday reflecting on where we stand as a program, but in the meantime several notes from Saturday's win over Wake Forest are worthy of note. I will also update the picks contest from the Tiger Pregame Show.


  • Chandler Catanzaro made a game-winning field goal as time expired to beat Wake Forest 31-28. It is the first time since 2007 that the Tigers have won on a last-second field goal. That season, Mark Buchholz kicked a 35-yard field goal as time expired at South Carolina to beat the Gamecocks 23-21. This is also the first time since 1948, when the stat began being tracked, that Clemson has won at home on a field goal as time expired.


  • Clemson will finish the season with a perfect 7-0 record at home. It is the first time since 1990 that the Tigers have achieved a perfect record at home. That season, Clemson went 6-0 in Death Valley.


  • With seven wins at home this season, it is just the second time that Clemson has won seven home games in a season. In 1987, Clemson went 7-1 at home. Therefore, Saturday’s victory gives Clemson its first 7-0 home record in history.


  • Saturday’s victory marks the seventh time in school history that Clemson has clinched an ACC Championship or a division title with a win at Clemson. In 2009, Clemson defeated Virginia, 34-21, to win the Atlantic Division title and advance to the ACC Championship game.


  • Clemson finished Saturday’s game with 522 yards of total offense. The Tigers are now 57-0-1 when gaining at least 500 yards of total offense.


  • Entering this season, Clemson had overcome a deficit of 14 points or more to gain victory just nine times. Clemson has now done it three times this year. The win over Auburn at Clemson, at Maryland and on Saturday.


  • With his second reception of the game in the second quarter, Sammy Watkins became just the fourth player in Clemson history to tally 1,000 receiving yards in a single season. He joins Aaron Kelly and Rod Gardner.


  • Tajh Boyd completed 27 of 43 passes for 343 yards. Boyd now has 3,017 passing yards for the season. Boyd also threw for two touchdowns giving him 27 for the season, which ties Cullen Harper’s record of 27 touchdown passes in a season (2007).


  • Dwayne Allen caught four passes for 48 yards in today’s game, all coming in the fourth quarter. With the 48 yards, Allen has 518 receiving yards this season, a Clemson record for receiving yards in a season by a tight end. The previous record was 507 by Michael Palmer in 2009.

Picks Update


Below is an update of our weekly picks from the Tiger Pregame Show.


Will's ACC Lock Of The Week was Miami covering the 9.5 points against Florida State and that is exactly what happened. Will is now 6-4 on the year in his lock of the week.


Scott's SEC Lock Of The Week was Georgia over Auburn and the Bulldogs rolled up the Tigers, which moves me to 8-2 on the season in my lock of the week.


The Clemson/Wake Forest picks were:


Will picked Clemson 45-21, which is a differential of 21 points.


Scott picked Clemson 45-24, which is a differential of 18 points.


Roy picked Clemson 34-17, which is a differential of 14 points.


Roy Philpott had the closest pick of the week and now moves back into first place with weekly wins (5) on the year. Will Vandervort has 4 weekly wins and Scott Rhymer has 1.


As you can see in the differential standings below, however, any one of us could still win the picks contest.


Yearly Differential Standings After Week 10:


Scott (-220 points)


Will (-223 points)


Roy (-226 points)


Roy won the Bottom Line Segment this week against Will Vandervort by a score of 2-0. Roy now leads the Bottom Line Segment 6 games to 4 over Will.


Broadcast time in Raleigh will be 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. If you have not done so, download the free Tune In App for your Droid or Ipad phone so you can stream WCCP during the season on your phones. You can also search for the new WCCP 104.9 FM App on the Droid/IPAD market place on those systems. The App is free and allows you to stream WCCP on your phone.


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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bye Week Cleanses Grunge From Atlanta

Bye Week Cleanses Grunge From Atlanta
Scott Rhymer


I certainly enjoyed the ride of the 8-0 start. I also suffered an extra day or two hangover from the loss in Atlanta. I suppose that the great start of this season and the #5 ranking, in some way, caused the hurt of the loss in Atlanta to be magnified and extended beyond a normal loss.

But the bye week has served as a long, hot shower that has washed the dirt and debris off this Clemson football team as it heads towards the most critical game of the season to this point with a distant eye on our in state battle with South Carolina and a chance to play for an ACC Title in Charlotte.

For the first time all season, I had the chance to watch lots of football this past weekend that did not involve Clemson. I’m not talking about highlights. I get to see highlights every week. No, this weekend I spent the entire day watching football games from start to finish without the aid of editing.

What I learned from watching so much football this past weekend is that, despite the loss to Georgia Tech 8 days ago in Atlanta, Clemson is a top ten football team. There is a small group of teams that are a step beyond where this Clemson team is. There are a handful of teams that are at the same level as Clemson. And there are a bunch of teams that are not as good as Clemson.

Clemson’s current ranking of #9 in the BCS seems, at least to me, about where this team is when looking across the country. On a given day, the Tigers are better than the #9 team. And on a given day, Clemson can play worse than the #9 team. But rankings are designed to take into account what a team is on their “normal” day…and I feel very confident that this team is a top ten football team right now on a normal day. The bye week, and all the football that I was able to watch last Saturday, confirmed that.

So our top ten Tigers play host to Wake Forest with the first major goal of the season on the line. Winning the Atlantic Division is the cornerstone of every football season under the two division format. Winning the Atlantic punches our ticket to Charlotte for a chance to play for another goal of this football season, an Atlantic Coast Conference Championship.

Wake Forest is a well coached team and will have plenty of inspiration when they walk into Death Valley on Saturday. The Deacons can also take a major step towards Charlotte if they can upset Clemson.

The 2011 version of Clemson football has given us more than just about any of us could have expected to this point. If you thought we would be 8-1 at this point, congratulations. You were certainly in the minority. Most of us, however, have been pleasantly pleased with what the product has looked like on the field.

So today I ask of you to make this Saturday’s final home game a way to give back to this team and these coaches for what has been a wonderful contrast to the 2010 season. This team has earned a rightful reputation of being different from many of the teams that have come before it. This team took the loss in Atlanta just as hard as you and I. This team has defied the critics.

And this team may just win an ACC Championship. But to get there, this team needs to win this Saturday in Death Valley. And it is time for our fan base…you and me…to send this team off towards that goal of ACC dreams in Charlotte with a final send off and celebration.

Death Valley is a special place when our fans come with the amount of energy that it did during the Auburn and Florida State games. Despite the reputation of both of those schools, Wake Forest comes into town with more on its resume this year than either Auburn or FSU. To that end, Wake Forest deserves the amount of attention via volume and energy that Auburn and FSU received.

Wake Forest can be rattled. This Saturday, they should be rattled. Let’s give this Clemson team something back from what they have given us for the first nine games of the season. And let’s ensure this team takes care of business and punches its ticket to Charlotte this Saturday.

The loss in Atlanta is now washed from me. Time to take care of business and stroll down the road to Charlotte.

Broadcast time this Saturday is from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m on the Lawn at Littlejohn. If you have not done so, download the free Tune In App for your Droid or Ipad phone so you can stream WCCP during the season on your phones. You can also search for the new WCCP 104.9 FM App on the Droid/IPAD market place on those systems. The App is free and allows you to stream WCCP on your phone.


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"The Road To Charlotte Begins With The Tiger Pregame Show"