First off, Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Enjoy your day. I've spent my week wedding one of my best buddies, so give me a break this week while I discuss golf and such. After dealing with all these Yankees yesterday and their bitching about how things are done here (yet it is still better than Ohio), here is what I need below. By the way, if you come down here and chose to live yet bitch and complain about how great in was up North, take your happy ass back up there and leave us the hell alone.
I'll begin this discussion with one of many fathers' favorite subjects...golf, then work my way into subjects surrounding Dear ‘ole Clemson/thoughts on Howard's Rock. The US Open is in full swing now and, to the surprise of many, Merion is taking it to the players. Most, including yours truly, expected the participants to go low all week on a shorter course than your typical Open event. We all thought that the heavy rains experienced there all last week would particularly tame this track and that the moisture combined with length would turn this into a field day for the world's best. Nothing could be further from the truth. Tight fairways, deep rough, and tough greens have challenged the field and kept scores much higher than expected. Early in the week, we saw Phil and others come out and put up below-par rounds early in the tournament. However, as play persisted, the scores got progressively worse. At times, the pros were reduced to results that are much more common to the weekend hacker. Props to the folks who put this course together and made it a very challenging track for the US Golf National Championship.
The folks on the Golf Channel were discussing an interesting topic that I thought I'd expand upon today. We all agree that the game's equipment evolution has changed many aspects of how a round is played. Head and shaft technology helps produce higher club head speed. Harder golf balls meant longer ball flight. In turn, most of the Tour stops have seen substantial lengthening that make longer shots necessary to put up really nice numbers.
Now we are at Merion. This course is extremely tight and, when dry, the fairways provide substantial roll-often through and into deeper rough. The deeper rough puts a much bigger premium on hitting fairways. While the course is short, it also was set up to allow players to shape their shots to hit these tough fairways. Back in the day, players were much better at shaping shots and hitting fairways, in my opinion due to the softer golf balls and smaller wood heads. Players today hit fewer fairways overall than they did 10 or 20 years ago. Statistically, as shown on the Golf Channel Friday night, greenies are further from the hole than they were in the past-in part because the players hit fewer fairways than they did in the past. Watch how the players attack the doglegs today. Years ago, a player may not be as long off the tee but could shape his shot to bring more fairway into play. Also, obviously, the shorter you hit your shot, the more likely your ball will end up on target. If you don't believe me, go out to your local club and watch the seniors out there. They may not kill the ball out of the box but will hit it straight. One short but straight; another short but straight; another short but straight and then a par putt. I've often wondered myself if I would score better by removing the driver from the bag and playing with hybrids and irons just to assure I am hitting from near the middle instead of out of the woods and rough.
Anyway, I'd like to hear everyone's opinion on whether you think the distance the players have gained over the years have diminished their ability to control the ball and, at a course like Merion, has caused players to sign scorecards above par. All that being said, I am not sure the players of years past would be more successful overall. I do, however, wonder if a sacrifice of distance we see out of today's players for some of the items we saw out of the players' years ago would produce lower scores in this tournament. It is also fair to discuss the tough pin locations-though I am not certain of the difficulty of the pin locations in tournaments played here years ago either.
I don't particularly care about the professional basketball game, but do understand they are finishing their end-of-year tournament soon...let me know how that one works out.
The Dabo Swinney Football camp season came to a close Friday. As in years past, Swinney and crew used this period and the period leading up to camp to reel in recruits for the '14 recruiting cycle. As we've said here in the past, getting the commitment is half the battle. Keeping the player in your camp and eventually landing the player on NSD is at least as difficult as getting him in the first place. We saw many of last year's spring/summer commits whittled down by February. Lots of things go into landing the big class and a big year in '13-we've pointed to this season for quite some time here at STS-would certainly not hurt our chances of finishing strong this recruiting cycle.
The final topic I'll explore this week is the stupidity that we were informed of this past week regarding Coach Howard's Rock. One stupidity of this is that some jackass or group of jackasses committed vandalism and attempted to completely infuriated the Clemson family and many others around the college football world. The other is the stupidity of the Clemson Administration to keep it from happening. I won't point fingers-as that is not the point of this discussion. I will point out the obvious: we are all outraged, pissed, and disappointed that someone/some people in our society would stoop to such lengths.
I won't express my rage after hearing the news. Like Dr. B earlier in the week, I realize it will do no good and you've probably either expressed the same rage yourself or have experienced it through radio/internet outlets. I am not sure they will catch the person responsible but clearly hope someone is held accountable for this act of stupidity.
Now that we've all had a week to piss and moan and rage and scream about this act, I'd like to discuss how the university should move forward to (A) do a better job of preventing an act like this in the future and (B) maintain the tradition surrounding Clemson's football program and the facets within the program.
Item A is a tricky one. The first question that everyone asks is why there isn't video of the act to help police find the villain. I have no clue about Clemson's video surveillance. I would like to give the university the benefit of the doubt and say that construction around the stadium may have inadvertently affected this system. Regardless of why we don't have information now, we should never be in the situation of not having surveillance in the future. The donors/university/AD have spent a tremendous amount of cash upgrading this facility. The technology to monitor and record activities here when the facility is not in use is readily available and relatively inexpensive compared to the facility costs. Not having this (as apparently we didn't earlier this month for whatever reason) in place and available under all conditions seems silly. Second, I would be willing to say that everything in that stadium sans the Rock could be replaced if vandalized. Someone spray paints the place, you can clean it up. Someone breaks something other than the rock, it can be repaired/replaced. Someone somehow brings in a backhoe and digs up the hill, we can truck in dirt and put it back...remember there was a complete overhaul of the playing field not too long ago to remove the crown and such, so dirt can be moved. Someone breaks the Rock...there is only one Rock. It is also the centerpiece of many Clemson campaigns and deserves constant monitoring.
Otherwise, I am sure there are more measures that can be taken...again, I am not a security expert but reasonably suspect one could help with these matters-it is ridiculous to have a million do.
The second item is maintaining the traditions surrounding the Football program and such. I can remember back in the day when the Rock was mounted on a concrete pedestal with no protective casing. It has always been open for public viewing and all someone had to do was stroll down Williamson Road and peak through the fence. I would hate to see Clemson remove that privilege for its fans due to some idiot. There is no argument that if it remains on continuous display, a much more secure protective housing is necessary.
Other ideas I have seen floating around the web involve creating new measures and traditions. I've heard suggestions that the Rock be housed in a more secure location and ceremoniously located at the top of the hill when needed. I've also heard other unique responses like engineering a bunker and having it rise from the bunker when needed. While these do sound kind of cool, unless there is a definitive chance that a repeat could happen and we cannot adequately secure the shrine for display in atop the East End Zone, I don't think I can be swayed away from the need for Clemson fans to bring their kids up for a baseball game then take a picture outside the gate with Howard's Rock in plain view.
The final question I have is what to do with the actual rock itself. Is it acceptable to leave it as-is and just accept the vandalism as part of its history? That Rock has a lot of stories in its history and this certainly would be another one. Should we try to refurbish the cherished item? On later topic, again I'll cede that I don't know much about refurbishment of such items. I'll also cede that such an action would be the subject of some debate. I do, however, know this: We are technologically advanced society. We can land men on the Moon and rovers on Mars. We can build superhighways and megastructures. I have hundreds of channels at my fingertips thanks to DirecTV. Don't tell me we cannot refurbish the Rock to pre-vandal condition. I believe I am in early support for that solution. I am pissed that someone has altered one of our greatest traditions. I do not want the person/people responsible for this act to have the satisfaction of seeing this forevermore. I do want Clemson to make a statement that regardless of the action, Clemson will not waiver and will rebuild when folks try and tear it down. Maybe it cannot happen in the next two/three months but it can happen at some point in the future. The best solution...one presented to me by The Wagon himself, is put together a replica Rock. Place the replica Rock in the East End Zone most times, then only bring out the (refurbrished) Rock then necessary. It is a shame we have to go through all this crap.
And your PANIC attack: