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Want To Be An SEC Team? Start By Playing Like One

By Scott Rhymer

Listen To Podcast Of This Commentary:

I don’t really care for the drama of all of this conference expansion. How about just let me know if/when Clemson moves to another conference or if/when other teams join the ACC and allow me to stay removed until then.
Ten years ago I would have given a hoot.  Now, the amount of brain power it takes to speculate on the “unspeculatable” forces my brain to work way too hard for such a little return on investment.
I also don’t really care for the drama that some of you enjoy lamenting about in terms of media bias.  Yes, the media is biased.  If you can’t tell the difference in the political tone that Fox News provides compared to that of CNN News you are probably one of those folks that actually believed the Mayans knew what they were talking about.  (Editor’s Note:  I did wait until after May 21st to post this blog just to be sure!).
ESPN loves the SEC.  Hell, they love Tim Tebow too but that is another story.  And ESPN most certainly helps the perception of the SEC, whether that perception is earned or not.  Those of you that cry over that very clear and precise fact need to put on your big boy pants and get a job other than browsing sports internet sites.
So the conference expansion junkies and the SEC bias junkies have found a common soup they are keeping in constant stir in the college football caldron.  They say that if Clemson, and for arguments sake Florida State, want to be a part of the elite of college football piety then we must find a conference we can latch upon to ride the wave of credibility.
(Enter your favorite rumors for Big 12 and SEC here)
I wonder why credibility has anything to do with the conference you play in.  I believe credibility lies in how you play the game.
Let me begin by saying that I have no problem with the ACC.  I took much satisfaction from beating the brains in of teams this year that in the past decade have ripped my heart out.
Boston College, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Duke, Maryland and NC State all have kicked my face into the back of my head (most of them multiple times) since Danny Ford quit roaming the sidelines.  Ok, to be honest, most of those teams kicked my face into the back of my head a time or two when Danny Ford was coaching too.  But for simplicity I am keeping this blog to the era of AD (After Danny).
I had a big smile on my face after each of those wins this year.  If you can’t smile at winning, especially winning big, you need to find another hobby to follow.
Part of that smile on my face was because of the game I had just witnessed and the fun that comes with winning.  But the other part of my smile was because of some sort of redemption as my mind wandered to all the times in my 35 years of following Clemson when those teams had made me have a tough night’s sleep after a heartbreaking and/or demoralizing loss.
If you have been following Clemson as long, or longer, than me you know exactly what I am talking about.
For full disclosure, I left with tail tucked this year in Tallahassee and from my own seat in Death Valley against South Carolina.  But I have tasted the thrill of victory over the ‘Noles recently and know they must return to Death Valley next year.  And as for the Gamecocks, words for my feelings on that loss are better kept to myself until such time I can remove the profanity from my thoughts. 
So after getting punched in the face by the Gamecocks and their 5th string QB, many of you are screaming that we need out of the ACC and into the SEC or Big 12 or some other conference yet to be invented.
And I’m ok with that.
Sign me up for the SEC and their cool stadiums, ESPN bias, rabid fans, and cheating culture on the recruiting trail. 
But when you sign me up, do so with the understanding that you are also signing me up for "big boy" football.  Players that will hit you in the mouth and then hit you again when you finally come into consciousness.  And you will have to sign me up for coaches that are smart enough to game plan against your tendencies and make you earn every yard you get and defend.
Clemson fans…you say you want to be in the SEC?  If so, you better translate that to your coaches and team.  And when I say translate I mean you better make sure your coaches and your team are ready to play big boy football where bodies fly around and helmets pop.  The SEC is not patty-cake football.  It’s not coached by people that you have to Google search to know their names.
The SEC is a corrupt, well coached, hard hitting, and overrated football conference all wrapped into one.  And it is that very contradiction that has you squirming in the aftermath of a 10-2 regular season that did not feel like a 10-2 regular season.
But alas, Clemson will have a chance to prove it can hang with that type of clientele on December 31st when the most corrupt, well coached and hard hitting team of all of the SEC Giants comes strutting into the Georgia Dome.  LSU is all of that and a coach with a 1985-style top rider hat to boot.
A few months later, another SEC heavyweight will come to Clemson to kick off the 2013 football season.  All told, Clemson will play three of the best SEC teams that the conference has to offer in back to back to back games.   Two of those games will be played at Clemson and the other at a neutral sight.
We already have been punched in the mouth a few weeks ago to start this three game trifecta.  Two more beat downs like that on December 31st and late August of 2013 and we can tuck our tail right between our legs and resume our role of being one of the biggest fish in the small ACC pond next year.
Or we can flip that switch; beat LSU and then Georgia and jump start a potential run for a National Championship in 2013. 
And we can do all of that while playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Gasp!  Can you believe that?
So, Clemson fans, you want to be in the SEC?  I hear some of you say you want to be an SEC member, with all the good (and bad) that comes with that “recognition”.
If that is the case, then you can start by having your team play like an SEC team on New Year’s Eve in Atlanta.  Play tough, with hard hits and excellent coaching on both sides of the ball.
If Clemson wants to be an SEC team, they better start by playing like one. 
And if we do, our conference affiliation will be secondary as a concern.  And the rumors will probably go away as well.
Scott Rhymer can be reached at
The Tiger Pregame Show on Facebook
Tigerpregame on Twitter

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