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What a week!

I have three obvious yet necessary topics to expand upon this morning.  While I expected and told everyone June would be big for Clemson, I had no clue how big the past week would be.  In addition to the flood of recruiting commitments, Clemson advanced to host a Super Regional and had its starting QB drafted in the 1st round of the MLB draft.  The biggest news may very well be found on the conference expansion front as things are gaining speed quickly.

Conference Expansion:

This could be it, folksIt appears as though Nebraska will be the first to move, which should set off a tremendous domino effect.  We expect to see an increase in membership in both the Pac-10 and Big 10.  We all know the SEC and we all expect that the SEC will fire if provoked (i.e., another conference trying to trump Mike Slive and the proactive Southeastern Conference). 

There are two big questions (assuming the SEC follows suit after the conference expansion begins) for this board:  A)  Will Clemson get an invite to join the SEC?  B)  Will Clemson accept an invitation should it be given?

I for one want to see Clemson in the SEC, and would openly applaud membership to this group.  Had the ACC and Swoffy not sacked up a few weeks ago in contract negotiations, this one would be a slam dunk.  As it sits now, we must get Jimmy Barker and crew on board with this concept.  My current opinion of Barker aside, IF he allows Clemson to miss the opportunity to play Georgia on a yearly basis he will have officially lost ALL of my support (to the point that I may be inclined to scratch his name off of a few diplomas) and he will be relegated to the purgatory known as Level Lennon henceforth. 

On the flip side, if JB can make it happen, it will certainly up his street cred and give him more respect in my book.  It will also create a new challenge (football) for this administration and the AD as a whole will have to address.  Either way (staying with the ACC or moving to the SEC), this administration needs to support this athletic program and the cash that it generates.  An accepted invite to the SEC would be the first significant sign in quite a while that we are ready to get serious on all fronts.  I should also note that moving to the SEC should not effect the academic goals that the University sets for itself, especially as the University continues to move to a more research-based platform and will need to compete with the likes of Vandy and Florida on such (overall) fronts.

Having UGa and USC in conference would be nice.  Getting on the national scene in football would be great.  Honestly, the best part would probably be not having to deal with the Tobacco Road Mafia and all the crap they pile on Clemson.  Besides getting a crack at the Bulldogs each fall, giving Swoffy and the rest of the NC crew a big "UP YOURS" (i.e., the old "How your mama and them?") and relegating their conference to rubble (outside of hoops) would be pretty enjoyable as well.

Kyle Parker:

This young man is set up for a monster pay day.  I cannot blame him if he chooses cash over (at least) one more year in college.  I probably would have been willing to leave for much less than he will be offered and he should be set for life if he decides to leave early.  In this respect, you can definitely respect his decision if he chooses to say goodbye to old CU.

What would this loss mean to Clemson?  This loss would set us back one year on the experience and we would lose the only QB who has won anything here lately, if you count an ACC Atlantic title (which I do).  Clemson would probably throw an inexperienced Tajh Boyd into mix next year.  While Boyd may be an overall more talented athlete, the extra year of winning some football games makes Parker's experience and leadership more and more important.  Parker has proven himself and would provide CU its best chance to win (especially early--Auburn) in '10.

From Parker's perspective, he has all the tools that he needs to be a great QB.  The only knock on Parker is his height.  Another year or two (with accuracy and decision making improvements at the QB decision) may make him an attractive QB prospect at the next level.  I fully expect Dabo will put together a formidable sales pitch (e.g., Spiller last year) to try to keep Parker for another year.  

Do I think Parker can improve his accuracy enough to be a really effective player?  Yes.  Will Parker have anyone other than the TE to throw the ball to?  Probably not, as our receivers (by themselves) will give him little reason to return.  Will he have anyone up front to block for him?  While Clemson improved last season, as long as Brad Scott is roaming the sidelines you really must expect the worst.  Aside from the constant game of musical chairs Scott plays with our OL, we are really one injury away from complete disaster. 

With the above-mentioned negatives on the table, Clemson is returning a championship caliber defense.  IF we can stay healthy up front and see some development, the OL could be the best we have seen in half a decade here.  Dwayne Allen will provide a nice target for Parker to throw to in spite of our shortcomings developing pass catching targets.  Parker would also get adequate help from a talented backfield.  Jamie Harper has improved since coming on campus and Andre Ellington has emerged as a shifty, quick back capable of bursting big plays, particularly finding holes in a zone-blocking scheme.

The long and short is simple to me.  While Swinney was able to convince C. J. Spiller to come back for another year, Parker has two sports to consider including the large cheddar available in baseball.  Spiller may have had a track option, but football was always his ticket to the big-time.  I believe that the iron is too hot for Parker not to strike on the diamond and think he will ultimately choose baseball.  The ideal situation for all would be a late summer signing with Parker negotiating one more year on the football field.  That, however, seems wishful at this point. NCAA football odds for this season's success may not be so hot.

Clemson Baseball:

We won our regional.  You cannot take that away from this team.  Clemson won and played fairly well in the field while crushing the baseball.  On Sunday and Monday, the pitching staff left a lot to be desired.  Even more disappointing was Jack Leggett's game management that could have/should have cost us the regional at Auburn.  The showing Sunday was unacceptable, especially watching his indecision as the Tigers blew a late lead.  This team/manager tried to give another one away Monday night only to be saved by hot bats.

The moral of this story is simple.  Clemson needs more out of their arms and needs to manage the pitchers a lot better.  We host (and yes I am amazed and excited about the words host, Super Regional, and Clemson in the same sentence) Alabama this weekend.  Bama got hot in the SEC tourney and will take advantage of the situation IF we cannot do a better job with our bullpen this weekend.  Jack has to learn to pull the trigger when a pitcher gets into trouble and, if given the chance, has to put the game away.  Clemson has an excellent chance to show out this weekend especially when you look at the path taken to get here.  I would be fired up if this team makes it out of this weekend considering the inconsistency we have seen out of this squad this year.  Make no bones about it, this team has the talent to move on but must perform consecutive weekends to make this happen.

Finally, in a non-Clemson note, props to the Augusta State golf team.  This small school came out and beat the odds last week to win the NCAA D1 golf tourney. ASU knocked off Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Oklahoma State to win the whole thing.  For a school this size to knock off such national powerhouses is impressive and these folks deserve mad props for their recent performance.