ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 08: The Clemson Tigers mascot looks on against the Virginia Tech Hokies during their first round game of 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conferene Tournament at Philips Arena on March 8, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
We'll start this off with a good note. Matt Hendrix, Clemson Alumni, is sitting one stroke off the lead on the Nationwide Tour's stop down in Mexico. If you get a chance to run into a Clemson golfer you'll realize every one of these folks is a class act gentleman and Mr. Hendrix is no exception.STS is pulling for you Matt!
I spent a good hour last night bitching to the local IPTAY rep I saw out and about, The final verdict...NOTHING I CAN DO. We encourage you to contact your IPTAY rep regarding what you want to see out of Clemson. However, these are not the folks that make changes at Clemson. Those are Board members. If you are sick of North Carolina running our conference in the ground...talk to a board member. Those are the folks who make it happen and those are the people who can position Clemson for the 21st century. (I will refrain from repeating the rant regarding several board members that was screamed last night. There are folks that want Clemson to succeed and there are others on that board who are not in favor of a strong CUAD. If you wanted Danny out, you are almost assured to be in the latter category).
With baseball season over, we are in a relative dead period for Clemson athletics. Football recruiting is in the quiet period which began on June 1 and will continue throughout the month of July. Hence, we will continue to discuss gameplay items here and fit in more of the same offseason stuff we've looked at in years past. As always, let us know if there is a particular topic of interest to you as this is a good time to mix in some different items. We typically make a list of requests then get to as many of them as we have time.
We did have some recruiting drama over the past week as Isaac McDonald and Clemson effectively ended their relationship. Here is the SBNation wrap-up of this item including tweets from McDonald's coach-I'll hit on that topic later. McDonald was a verbal commitment to Clemson then took other visits. There is nothing wrong with that from an NCAA standpoint but those actions do contradict expectations the Clemson staff has for committed players. Dabo Swinney made his policy on commitments very clear and, from everything I've heard, he spells this policy out explicitly to any recruit who wishes to commit to Clemson. Dabo even goes so far to not allow assistants to officially take commitments...the head coach takes the verbal commitment and spells out the responsibilities of making such a commitment. I've heard various folks discuss Dabo et al. encourage a player NOT TO COMMIT if he was not absolutely 100% sure that Clemson was the place for him. In the eyes of Clemson football, committed players do not entertain other schools/universities. In return, Clemson will stay committed to each of these players-thus this is a "two way street."
Because I believe that Swinney and staff explain these expectations well, I have no problem with the abrupt end to McDonald's recruitment. I am not saying that I would or would not invoke such a policy if I was in Swinney's shoes. I am saying that communicated rules and expectations must be enforced. As for the critics that call hypocrisy for Clemson entertaining athletes committed to other universities, I must disagree. Swinney says any player entertaining other schools/universities is not truly committed. Overall, Swinney's policy is different from other schools but, again, his job is to run the football program and such a policy is well within his rights as head football coach.
McDonald's high school football coach clearly took the high road in this ordeal. I am not exactly sure what capacity Jon Drummond serves Champagnat Catholic School but will say that his Twitter tirade was something I would expect out of a teenager who is pissed his parents took away the car keys. Drummond also set a great example by openly saying that he didn't care what the committing school's policy was, particularly if it conflicted with what he wanted to do. Basically, a commitment via handshake means nothing to the high school coach. Overall, this never should have hit the Twitter as it negatively highlights all involved.
Speaking of recruiting, the homers out there are intensely trying to reassure the Clemson nation that recruiting is right where it needs to be, that Clemson is essentially where it was this time last year. I'm calling bullshit there. We don't believe that is the case and are concerned about the '13 class. I won't meddle through all the details (that's QuackingTiger's job). We discussed the apparent slow start to this recruiting cycle earlier and only hope that Swinney, Scott, and the rest of the staff can turn this ship around prior to February 2013.
And so far as perspective, what is up with Clemson fan calling up sportstalk radio spewing complete garbage about the state of our football program. I will preface this with the following, "Yes, I de realize that sports talkshows are essentially radio message boards and anyone can spew relatively unfiltered items." However, if this was just one or two folks, I would discard it as isolated ignorance. This is nearly all the folks who call in. I'll start by giving you your props: yes, Clemson is stacked at offensive skill positions, particularly the wide receiver position. And, yes, you are correct saying that Clemson was beaten the past three years by South Carolina because they wanted it more.
Some of you actually identified the root problem-Clemson's ineffectiveness in the trenches. The next statement just crushes me. How in the world can these folks realistically say that Clemson will win more battles up front next season? There is no way in hell that Clemson is vastly improved on either the offensive or defensive line and '12 will likely be a season to break in more of the youngsters in both of these areas. From all off the record items I've heard, the OL was complete crap coming out of spring drills. Let's think about it, the only real initial improvement we get over '11 is the loss of McLain. You get Dalton Freeman back but I have to remain critical after hearing how the OL couldn't block properly this spring because they hadn't gameplanned for the Clemson defense. What the hell does that really mean anyway? Here are last season's pre-Orange Bowl participation numbers and commentary, enjoy (please read before calling and pissing me off hearing you on the radio).
Defensively, we have to replace Brandon Thompson and Rennie Moore in the middle. On the outside, we lose Branch and Brown. While I like Branch (particularly when he keeps his motor running each and every play), we will miss Thompson and Moore much more next year than the departing ends. Clemson does have Goodman, who has largely underachieved at CU, and Shatley with some game experience. This group will break in a lot of new/inexperienced faces next season and I believe they will have trouble filling the roles of departed players. Clemson further needs depth here. This is something we completely lacked up front last season. Again, I see '12 as a year to get these folks some experience which means we will see mistakes associated with learning. Like the OL, we looked at participation numbers for the DL prior to the O-Bowl last winter.