AUBURN AL - SEPTEMBER 18: Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers questions a call during the game against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 18 2010 in Auburn Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Several folks take issue with our expectations of Clemson athletics. Let me point out to folks one thing: we are unwavering in our expectations of what Clemson can do, and we expect perfection. We love Clemson, but we hold the people that make decisions accountable, and that goes from the top down. Just because we don't point out every issue in every article does not mean they are ignored.
If you don't expect perfection, then you'll never get 14-0. Theres not that big of a gap between teams that go 5-7 and those that go 8-4, but theres a huge gap between 8-4 and 14-0. If you are happy with winning the division, then the division is all youre going to get. If you're happy with "competing" with our opponents, then that is all you will ever get. I'm not happy unless Clemson wins championships, and I expect them to win those championships.
We don't think Clemson plays in such a difficult conference that we can never go 14-0. If we had financial monoliths like Texas, Florida, or Michigan in our conference, that may not be the case, but they aren't in our conference. I expect 10 wins a year no matter what, because we have the ability to recruit the talent to get there and half of our opponents in any given year have no chance at getting to that level. For the most part, only around 3 opponents of ours in any year (looking back at our past schedules) are capable of recruiting top-flight classes.
However, we have several issues here that have to be corrected for Clemson to get to the top and stay there. Just because one issue is fixed does not make us lenient on the others going uncorrected. Are we financially able to stay at the football level of those monoliths mentioned? No, but are we maximizing our current resources? No. We don't make the most of the talent we have on the field. We don't make the best use of our financial resources. Sometimes, after living or working around the Southeast, I wonder why Clemson doesn't maximize its own marketing possibilities. I wonder why everything that happens there is reactive, and never proactive. Why do we wait until every other school has something before we decide to do it?
When we see issues that continue to be uncorrected, we hold the people responsible accountable for them. Jim Barker continually hurts our athletic programs by taking $2.5+ million from the CUAD budget, which puts us in the RED financially for the last 2 fiscal years. We published those findings here. IPTAY sits on $30 million in the bank, and doesn't spend it. We published that here. Am I going to give TDP a pass for conducting a sham of a coaching search for the basketball coach, football coach, or next pitching coach? No, even if Barker is tying his hands, I don't give TDP a pass for his decisions if they don't work out. He is still well-paid from my ticket and IPTAY dues, so he is still held responsible.
This past offseason we gave our football staff a raise. Am I to hold them less responsible or more after that? I don't have many knee-jerk reactions here. If I want someone fired, its for his entire body of work. I did not think Oliver Purnell was a good X's and O's coach, and I said so. I did not want him fired, when many did, because his entire body of work was good. That does not mean I did not hold him responsible for losing to weaker teams in the NCAAs, just that I had not yet reached the level of disgust that would cause me to fire him. Brad Scott's is not good, so when the OL doesn't perform, we will point it out. Jeff Scott appears to be a great recruiter, but Clemson is not in a position to keep guys that can recruit but not coach. We are not to that level of talent or financial resource. His coaching so far has been average, and we said earlier this offseason that we would give him one more year to improve. I also said last week in the Game Preview that we would hold the staff responsible for the WRs they played, and I see the same lackadaisical play from Ashe. I saw it from Dye for a chunk of that game too, so we will point it out. You may want to blame the player, but the coach is the one that is playing him. Powell is in charge of special teams, and our kick return coverage was poor. We had snap issues on FGs/XPs last year, and it crops up again. We will hold him responsible for it. Whomever made the decision to play Harper at RB instead of Ellington is to be held responsible. Steele got what, 350K more? Are we to not point out when his defense doesnt perform 350K worth better, or when we don't hear of him at all in recruiting? Billy Napier made great calls in most of that game Saturday, but its the bonehead ones that lose you games at any level, no matter what your talent level is. 20 good ones don't offset 5 bad ones when the 5 bad ones are the difference between winning and losing. We are not saying that we think Napier or Steele are bad coaches, actually I think they both are good, but they are well paid and not above reproach here.
Mental mistakes go on the Head Man with us. The HC is responsible ultimately for everything, but chiefly the psyche of the team and in-game management. If you go into halftime jumping for joy and backslapping, and take your foot off the throat of your opponent, then you are not taking your opponent seriously enough. Theres room for joy, the game is supposed to be fun, but a game is 60 minutes, and when you don't concentrate for 60 minutes then its the head coach that is responsible. That doesnt mean Dabo is not or cannot be a good coach, because the jury is still out for me, but his record against BCS opponents thus far is not above reproach. He's well paid, and we expect him to manage a game properly, not call a bonehead fake FG or reverse, or signal in the wrong protection on a play causing a sack. Just because he wins some games does not excuse him for decisions that cause us to lose others. I expect him to get it right, and thats not unreasonable. When he wins a national championship, he'll get carte blanche from us, but not before.
Just because its Game 2 doesnt mean we will not point out problems, if you want me to wait til February to say it, too bad. They are the same problems we always point out if you're paying attention. When we have the game review up later this week, it'll be more positive than our postgame posts, simply because we have to move on to the next game, not necessarily because the opinions have changed (though I do sometimes change my opinions while doing the film review). If people in power screw up again, we'll point it out again.