This was one of those offseason weeks that saw a lot of Clemson legends get their due amongst other things going on in Tigertown. The big news of the week was the decision to make Coach Danny Ford and Bill Wilhelm members of the Clemson University Ring of Honor. Additionally, the press box was named in honor of the legendary Jim Phillips. Kudos to the Board of Trustees getting after it and getting these men the honors they deserve. Each of these folks gave a lot to Clemson and each of these honors should have been bestowed long ago. I am just glad to finally see some of these things become reality. In addition to all of this, the university also announced the 2013 Athletic Hall of Fame class. This includes Brentson Buckner and Terrence Flagler-two exceptional football players. This news out of the AD is a lot to digest, but I'll try to give each topic its due and sprinkle in some other takes.
Bill Wilhelm's induction is very well earned as Wilhelm turned Clemson into a national power on the baseball diamond. He would have gotten his honor much earlier if he weren't such a humble man. It is my understanding that while he was living, he never would allow himself to be inducted into the SC Athletic Hall of Fame so his induction into that fraternity was only made following his death in late 2010. I suspect Clemson's delay here had something to do with Coach Wilhelm's requests as you cannot imagine any other reason for the wait.
Part of me thought that Danny Ford would never receive the honor he is due. Thank goodness the Clemson Board of Trustees finally shifted in this stance. I really thought when they honored the '81 team several years ago they would claim Danny was in and their work complete. That probably was the original plan but, hopefully, the shift that started 2-3 years ago has completely taken hold. With the honoring of Bill McLellan earlier this year and now Danny being properly honored, things are looking better and better. It is still bullshit that it took this long to slam the "Block C" on the side of the stadium but at least it is happening and you have to give the powers that be credit for shifting opinion.
I'll quit harping on the delay and look at the good. Coach Ford
was is the man in Clemson. His achievements in Tigertown are legendary. Coach Ford did it and he did it his way. On the field, we pounded and pounded the opponent. We weren't scared of a damn thing. Anytime Danny changed to his gameday chaw, everyone knew it was on. I remember seeing Clemson get off the Young busses at the top of the hill sporting orange britches and knew we were in for a treat that afternoon. What is most impressive about watching a game from the ‘80's is Ford's ability to remain in control of the game no matter the situation. There are many games that I've watched over and over thinking, "Why is Clemson doing this?" Only three minutes later you realize Danny hedged earlier to avoid catastrophe and now has his team in prime position. In retrospect, it reminds me of those world-class poker players you always see on TV. They are constantly calculating pot odds, their opponent, and their hand then somehow make incredible decisions. You could see a similar process back then (Ford knew the game situation, knew his players, and knew the opposition) and it worked out more often than not.
The other item Clemson was fortunate to receive from Ford was an icon, almost a cult figure. Clemson fans love Danny Ford. It is because he makes sure that everyone knew he was one of us. The man was (and still is) very humble (and we were very fortunate to win that ballgame-we got a good group of young men and mammas and deddys out there giving us just a good group of young men who give it their all...). Danny was almost bigger than Clemson-though I don't think he ever intended to be-and that made the powers that be nervous and, I guess, insecure. His results and his demeanor made every Clemson fan a believer. Who wouldn't want to go fishing with Danny Ford? I remember going to a horseshoe pitch several years back and there is Coach Ford...cooking chicken, yelling at dogs to stay away from his chicken, and slamming beers. How could you not like the guy?
It is tough to follow a discussion about Coach Ford, but this man is definitely big enough to do it. I remember seeing Brentson Buckner on the field when he was a freshman back in 1990 and thinking "this man dwarfs everyone else on the football field." You'll have to remember, 300 lb players were the exception rather than the rule back then and this fellow looked like a giant on the field. Buckner was a phenomenal player at Clemson, showing agility in addition to an extremely large frame.
Terrence Flagler's induction to the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame is a bit delayed if you ask me. Everyone here knows I am a big Flagler fan. He and Kenny Flowers made up one of the best Clemson backfields in school history. Before Spiller and Davis, there was Flagler and Flowers. Flagler had a jam-up '86 season, rushing for well over 1200 yards and playing a big part in Clemson's 1986 ACC Championship and return to the upper tier of college football. Flagler was a dynamic back who was extremely quick and fluid. Watch games from his era and you'll instantly realize that this guy was the man.
I don't want to take away from the others in the '13 Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame class. I simply do not want to distort history or replicate information released by the university in their bio. Members of this class, in addition to Buckner and Flagler, include Michelle Burgher, Cydonie Mothersill, Julius Ogaro, Robin Kibben, Cliff Ellis, Matthew LeCroy, Chrissy Floyd, and Ray Williams. The university released great information on each of these Clemson greats and I'd encourage you to read up about them at here.
You all know that there are pictures and videos of the Rock vandals/getaway sled are on the net. Obviously, investigate any vehicle that fits that description and don't hesitate to investigate any leads as thoroughly. This vandalism should not be taken lightly and the person responsible needs to be brought from the shadows into the spotlight.
My understanding is that Clemson doesn't have a definitive path forward for Coach Howard's Rock. DRad has publicly stated that ideas like an underground repository for the Rock/pedestal sound cool, the idea of publicly displaying this historical item is the best option and in the spirit of college athletics. I have heard that security will be increased/measures taken to try and avoid a similar act of stupidity in the future. Obviously, if Howard's Rock is to be displayed permanently atop a pedestal above the East End Zone, modifications to the casing/protective structure are required. I imagine a metal cage of some sort as the structural base for the Plexiglas enclosure. This should probably run the complete height of the Rock/pedestal structure and secure in the concrete around the pedestal. Again, that is just what I was thinking. The best alternative, IMO, is to have a replica in place the majority of the time and bring the real thing out for football games. Then again, it is completely ridiculous that any jackass would decide to vandalize such an item in the first place.
The other item of interest I heard last week was a question posed to DRad about insurance for the Rock. He kind of skirted the issue saying that he thought it might be insured under a general SC State insurance provision and that they are currently looking into this item. I am guessing, but would think if there is some sort of insurance payout on this vandalism, the University would almost be obligated to try to repair the artifact to a condition similar to what was there prior to the incident. That is just one person's speculation, again.
I'll admit, I must be behind the times as I hadn't seen these items until EDSBS posted them a couple days ago over there. This Alex Gibbs clip was the gem of my viewing pleasure. That guy is serious...no wonder the Broncos and TD ran the ball like champs back in the day.
Now, the smooth transition to golf. The PGA Tour is up in Connecticut this weekend for The Travelers Championship. If you were watching yesterday, you saw Bubba go +3 on the back to finish his round at Even Par and tied for the lead. I did not expect that from Watson. I also did not expect a bunch of Yahoos to start talking in his backswing either. If anyone here attends a golf tournament (which is highly recommended), don't be a freaking moron-keep your mouth shut while the player is hitting the golf ball.
Back to last week's topic, the US Open did indeed end up providing all the drama we've come to expect from Golf's National Championship. It was also the scene of Phil's latest Open failure. If Phil can make a putt or two, he finally wins this major. I was in Winged Foot several years ago to see his disaster-filled homestretch that involved hitting a ball in a trash receptacle, hitting a hospitality tent, hitting a tree, etc...and all Phil had to do there was hit the fairway on 18 to win the thing. Last weekend was brutal watching one of the best short game players of all time fail on a 100 par 3 and give away quite a few makeable putts. I don't feel bad for Mickelson...he has won his fair share of tournaments through aggressive play (including the 2010 Masters) and will win again. It seems, though, as it is all or nothing for Phil and he has the flair for drama (miss a 3 foot putt, splash in from the trap, drain a 50 foot putt, then miss another 3 footer). When Mickelson is in a tournament and is hitting fairways, watch out.
As for my own game, I hadn't played in over a month but did pick up the sticks yesterday for a quick nine. Once again, I was quickly reminded that the most important item within the game of golf is to keep your eye on the ball. How stupid is it that one of the most difficult items in the sport is as simple as keeping your head down and actually watch the static, often teed up, target while you swing to hit it?
I believe the fortnight of tennis begins across the pond tomorrow. While I don't play tennis nor keep up with the WTA circuit, I will admit that the grass courts at Wimbledon combined with the traditions and respect of the facility/tournament is impressive. I will follow the tournament via Sportscenter and possibly watch the championship matches in a couple weeks. Otherwise, and unless someone does something really, really stupid, you're own your own figuring that bad boy out.
One last note...we are always looking for writers/contributors here at STS. We generally have the football end covered here, but we're hoping to ramp up the Xs & Os coverage in particular. Between the two of us, there are too many distractions to enumerate and it has gotten us away from what we really want the site to discuss. Ideally we'd have strategy stuff going up 2-3x per month. If you think you may be interested and want an audience to discuss all things Clemson, give me or Dr. B a shout.