Before I get to football, which is the most important thing on the docket year 'round, I'll go ahead and comment on one of my favorite times--the ACC Basketball Tournament. This typically means that basketball season is closing out and football's spring practice sessions/baseball are starting up. This year it is a little sweeter, as our Tigers only have one more game left. This season has been particularly disgusting--the worst since they Larry Shyatt experiment--and I am just happy to finally put it to bed. The concern here is that I have little excitement for next season either. While I think that Brownell is a good X's and O's coach, I can feel the momentum and excitement he started building several seasons ago starting to peter out. While I am not doing anything rash like calling for his job, I am becoming more and more concerned that we are slipping back into the abyss that is early-2000's Clemson basketball.
While I certainly don't expect Clemson to be pushing for national championships on an annual basis, I don't think that annual trips to the NIT and the occasional NCAA tourney invite/run is too terribly much to expect. All i know is that the interest in Clemson basketball is, this season, the lowest I've seen surrounding the program in quite some time. In fact, most of the focus I've seen surrounds what to do about the poor planning the Clemson administration did with the last Littlejohn renovation and how this program should move forward with basketball facilities.
I guess this is as good of a time as any to make this point. We will discuss fiscal responsibility in making this decision. However, the last time we were in this spot, the administration chose to piss away a ton of money to try and upgrade current facilities. I don't really have a defined position on this matter but do not want to see the powers that be essentially stay outdated in an effort to do things on the cheap. Whatever the decision, we need to assure that we aren't back in this same position 8-10 years from now again (and by that, I mean requiring--not wanting--a substantial upgrade in the core facility). There will always be a need for facility improvement but this mismanagement is very, very frustrating.
Now, onto the real deal--Clemson football. As you all know, the Tigers have opened Spring Drills and are moving through practice and towards the annual Spring Game. Coach Dabo seems upbeat about this squad, saying that they are already a good ways along. I sincerely hope he is being objective because this is the year we've been looking forward to for quite some time. You know how we view spring practice here...it is a time for players to work on fundamentals and offense/defense concepts. This is a time to review and install--not necessarily to show out. It is a stepping stone towards August. Also, the coaches like to use this time to create competition amongst their players. Consequently, you'll see them giving praise to guys further down the depth chart. I guess that also may be because this is the only time that players down the chart are featured. Thus, be cautious what you take out of spring practice. For sure it is an important period but not the end all be all. How many times have you seen a spring practice all-star do nothing come fall? Happens every year.
In terms of football revenue generation, it will be interesting to see how things play out. Radakovich is spurring on continued facility improvement along with trying to increase revenue. I think the decision to use tiered pricing is smart--especially since season ticket holders get theirs at a significant reduction over single game purchases. For those not aware, face for UGa is $75, Wake/BC $50, Ga Tech $55, FSU $70, and SC State/Citadel $35. Season ticket holders pay $40 less than the sum of all the other games (or $330 per book). The university should make more money hosting bigger games and the season ticket holder should not be penalized by paying the same price as the single game purchaser. The season ticket holder commits to the whole book and also commits to attending all home games else losing their ticket investment (or being inconvenienced into selling/giving away their duckets).
I am a little leery of the $55 price tag for a Thursday night Georgia tech game. It is tough enough playing on Thursday in Clemson anyway, and this increase doesn't really help. The only fear I have now is potentially pricing out some of the fanbase, though I'd suspect the market will dictate if/how this solution works. All in all, though, you must admit that the UGa game is the premier game on the season (at least in my mind) and will have the most ticket demand--particularly when you consider the distance from Athens to Tigertown. FSU is the only other real game on the home schedule. Who the hell cares about watching the Salem Deacons or the two out of conference cupcakes we have scheduled? Accordingly, these tickets lack overall demand and are correctly priced less than the big games.
The pro golf is really heating up. Tiger and Phil both have played well this week and one would suppose that Woods will close out the tourney again today. Hopefully all will be hitting on all cylinders through Bay Hill and into the tournament in Augusta. Golf just gets more exciting as the days get longer and the temperature rises.
Baseball is also heating up. Clemson gets into conference play this weekend and we'll be interested in how the young guys mature. It is a long season and we'll surely see steady improvement as we march forward. Clearly this is a talented group and really just needs to play ball as a group. The Tigers get to wear the sweep hats this afternoon (I assume they are able to wear the white lids with purple bills on the road) as Clemson looks to take all three from the Wolfpack. Clearly getting a win would give the young team some confidence as they head into the long conference baseball schedule.
Speaking of baseball, what's up with the Canadian team and team Mexico throwing 'bows last night. I get it, the rules are not exactly consistent with the spirit of the game--run differential serves as a tie breaker. However, if those are the rules of the tournament, you should understand that teams will do whatever is necessary to scrape in that late game run just because it could matter. One would think that the tournament would build in an extra day in case of a tie so that teams could just play a tiebreaker game. I would postulate, though, that this tournament's position in relation to Spring Training would make it more difficult to extend its required time.