Clemson and Maryland kicked off a series at Tiger Field Saturday that saw our Tigers fall to the Terps in the series opener. Maryland pitcher Jimmy Reed stifled the Tiger offense over eight innings. Clemson starter Daniel Gossett struggled, not making it out of the third. I will go ahead and point out that Reed has been flat out sick this season, particularly lately in ACC play-including being named ACC Pitcher of the Week following a 1-0 win against Duke last weekend. The second game of Saturday's schedule adjusted doubleheader was canceled. The tentative plan is to play one today and cap the series tomorrow on ESPNU. The way the weather looks today, I wouldn't be shocked to see another postponed game today.
The Tigers need to take the final two to increase their chance of taking the ACC Atlantic crown in what is shaping up to be a tight race. As of this writing, Clemson trails FSU by two games in the loss column. NC State also leads the Tigers, but only but only by one in the loss column. Those two squads meet next weekend in Raleigh while Clemson will get a shot at division leader FSU at their place the following weekend. NCST is scheduled to complete its regular season at Duke that weekend as well.
Clemson took a big step this week, officially dedicating the North Upper Deck as the "H.C. "Bill" McLellan North Upper Deck." Many of the younger fans may not remember McLellan, but he should and now will go down as one of the most innovative athletics directors in school history. McLellan, often revered by many as "Dollar Bill" during his time leading the department, helped usher in the golden age of Clemson football. McLellan began his time at Clemson lettering on a couple of Frank Howard's early ‘50's football squads. He spent the majority of his career serving Clemson University, eventually achieving the title of Director of Athletics in 1971. McLellan believed that Clemson's programs-football in particular-should be the benefactor of only the best in everything. Under his leadership, Clemson expanded Memorial Stadium significantly by adding both the North and South Upper Levels. In this expansion, the future-thinking AD made Clemson the first on-campus school to feature luxury boxes. I can remember at one point the school priding itself as the only on-campus stadium with boxes endzone to endzone on both sides of the field. While at Clemson, athletics flourished. We obviously won the '81 football crown and the '84 soccer National Championship along with many other conference titles. Much of McLellan's legacy will be tied to negative aspects of his tenure at Clemson-and rightfully so. However, Dollar Bill is a Clemson man through and through and a very, very big reason that our athletics programs have the history and tradition they do.
The biggest impact news that will affect our Tigers didn't come from Tigertown, but from an SEC news conference. There SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced the formation of the "SEC Channel" that, as I understand it, will begin broadcast sometime next Spring/Summer. This is different from the "SEC Network" in that it is a dedicated television channel-not just a production unit. Here, SEC athletics will be broadcast 24/7 and will provide more publicity for member institutions, more access to fans, more notoriety to recruits, and, of course, more $$$ in the member institutions' coffers. It is also my understanding that this channel is a collaboration between the SEC and its network affiliates (ESPN/ABC in addition to programming from CBS). It is also my understanding that this channel along with the addition of two member institutions allows the SEC to renegotiate with the networks-to the tune of $30 million plus average annually over the life of the contract. That is some serious cheddar.
What is the ACC doing? I believe they are looking into such an idea-only after the other conferences have moved forward. I'll assume we'll hear something in about a year that goes along the following lines from Swofford: "After great deliberation, we've decided to form a strategic partnership with none other than the great Raycom Sports to provide an ACC Channel." With Swofford's family relationships inside Raycom, I don't think such a statement would be a surprise. Nothing quite like the thought of your conference's channel essentially late-night cable access television. The ACC better get off its ass soon because it is getting boat-raced by the other conferences. At this point we continue to fall behind because of inept leadership while conferences like the SEC with commissioners who will do whatever it takes for their conference flat out get it done. The ACC office should be damned ashamed of the work it has done over the past decade or so. The athletics directors at member institutions should be harshly criticized for allowing Swofford and his Tobacco Road mafia to sucker the schools into insane exit clauses "for the good of the conference." Look around and tell me if they have Clemson's best interest at heart. Look around and let me know when they put the majority of the conference's needs above those of a select group of anointed universities.
I hope everyone enjoyed the Thoroughbred racing yesterday. Palace Malice got off to a torrid start, very fast out of the gate and led a good portion of the race. Twitter favorite Normandy Invasion then made a great push for the lead. Eventual winner Orb laid back in the field and really poured on the speed with a dramatic pass on the outside of the field coming out of the race's final turn to win by 2 and 1/2 lengths. I believe the older I get the more I enjoy watching sports like this one and yesterday was no exception.
The professional golfers are up at Quail Hollow this weekend for the Wells Fargo Championship. If you get a chance to go up to Charlotte and visit this course, do it. The leaderboard headed into the final round of play today is full of big names--Mickelson, McIlroy, and Westwood begin Sunday near the top. Hopefully, we'll get yet another great Tour finish. I will note that the tee time structure has been adjusted due to the threat of poor weather. All the players teed off between 6:45 and 8:45 this morning--starting from both tee box 1 and tee box 10. I am not sure how this will affect the television schedule. Originally, Golf Channel coverage was to begin at 1:00 EDT and CBS coverage at 3:00 EDT. I really hope that the networks are able to adjust this schedule for better viewing arrangements of this tournament.
NASCAR makes its Spring visit to Talladega this weekend. The races at this superspeedway are legendary and a must-watch for the automotive racing fan. Qualifying was rained out for the event, meaning Carl Edwards will start on the poll. I haven't confirmed this, but I'd assume there will be a competition caution similar to the one we saw last night in the Busch Series race. Weather will play a factor in today's race, as the forecast doesn't look appealing. NASCAR has discussed moving the race start time up a bit to get more in today, so we will see how that plays out.
For those of you who saw the Busch race last night, you saw Regan Smith win via caution flag finish (though Kasey Kahne crossed the line first). First off, Smith made a bold move to get the nose in front of Kahne before the finish and should be commended for such. However, it is the final freaking lap. Why not at least let the leaders race to the finish? I don't suspect running this last lap to the end would have caused any more accidents--again, I am no NASCAR official--and would not have the officials going to the booth to see who was in the lead at the arbitrary point where the yellow was thrown.
Of note, AJ McCarron will be driving the pace car, so go ahead and cue up your best Brent Musburger takes.