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2014 Pro Bowl Sunday Thoughts

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

There is nothing more worthless than an All-Star game so of course I do not care about today's Pro Bowl football game.  Besides, this isn't even a game that involves the country's best professional football players as this game is one week before the Super Bowl so none of those players will even be playing.  Let's call the Pro Bowl what it really is...a joke.  The players would be foolish to take this seriously as another full contact, get after it football game increases injury chances which would clearly derail a career playing in games that actually matter.  Maybe they should just name the Pro Bowl teams and find some other joke of a competition for these guys to compete--maybe they could just turn it into one big episode of American Gladiators.

The Senior Bowl is a bit different from the Pro Bowl in that it is a skills competition.  The game means nothing but the week leading up to the game allows potential Draft participants to show off for professional scouts.  These players are typically jockeying for position or simply trying to get invited to the combine so that they can make another pass for NFL teams.  So far as Clemson was concerned, there were few surprises.  Brandon Thompson had a solid week and continued what has been a solid year.  Tajh Boyd, however, was his usual...consistently inconsistent.  By all accounts, the signal caller struggled for a good portion of the week and put together a disappointing 36 passing yards and one interception during his four series yesterday.  While the South team was much more talented than the North in most areas, this outing will be bad or, at best, ignored by the scouts.  I don't believe Tajh has been invited to the combine yet so hopefully he'll get that opportunity.  Everyone will be following Boyd's progression and, as always, we wish all Clemson players the best of luck and are pulling for their success.

I didn't give my take on the Swinney contract extension, so I'll weigh in here.  My sentiments echo most of what I've heard since...HAS CLEMSON (AND D-RAD IN PARTICULAR) LOST ITS FREAKING MIND?!?!?!  This is not in reference to the salary increase for the head football coach.  After winning 11 football games for the second consecutive year and double digit wins three straight years, a pay increase is tough to argue--particularly in this era of ballooning salaries and such.  I would have preferred less guaranteed money and more money tied to achievements (lower base salary but increase all incentives, for example) but the "base salary" at this point is irrelevant.  The issue at hand is the buyout.  From memory, Dabo owes Clemson approx. $5 mil if he leaves and that number decreases over the duration of the contract.  Clemson, on the other hand, starts its buyout at $24 million and works its way down.  All this really does is guarantee Dabo somewhere in the $27-28 million range early on and late in the deal.  As you'll notice the Clemson buyout decreases by the scheduled salary each year for the first couple seasons of this contract.  While that may not be too big of a deal (I don't, for example see Clemson firing him over the next 2-3 years unless something really bad happens simply because of the success he's had the past three seasons), I am concerned about deals that last more than five years with such large guarantees.

Now, I am not bashing Dabo at all.  He and his agent or whomever negotiated this deal did a wonderful job for Swinney.  I wish I could get one of these guys to help me negotiate my salary, in fact.  The issue at hand is that Clemson essentially is guaranteeing Swinney a boatload of cash (while Swinney is only on the hook for $5 mil early on which drops significantly down the road).  Why is Clemson's buyout so high and Swinney's so low?  Is this because Clemson wanted to give a guaranteed eight year deal with no strings attached but knew people would go apeshit when that news hit so they reworded the contract to make it an eight year guaranteed deal with the possibility of a ridiculously high buyout.  I did the basic math and the numbers were too interesting and are an issue I'd like to look at outside of my Sunday slice of the pie but will include in a post sometime this week.  Long and short, Clemson is making a commitment to Swinney between $23.65 to $27.15 total while Swinney is only on the hook for $5 mil max.  With that kind of money on the line, all the eggs are in one basket.  I sure hope this pans out well, Swinney is able to get over the SCar / FSU hump, we win big, and everyone is happy.  We cannot afford the lump payout early on if play on the field goes South.  The other interesting piece is D-Rad tied his fate at Clemson to Swinney's success.

Recruiting is really picking up and will be the focus across the land over the next couple weeks.  Clemson has most of their class figured out but there are a couple guys out there who will give a little excitement down the stretch.  Depending on how everything shakes out, we may see some tough roster management decisions that must be made.  I'll be extremely interested to see these items and how they resolve themselves.  As we've repeatedly stated here, if this program wants to take things to the next level, roster management will need to be a key strategical item and tough decisions will be required every year to assure scholarships are not bogged down by players who aren't contributing to get to the next level.

Our basketball team has an excellent chance tonight to do something we've never done before.  The last time I thought we had a chance like this we got blown out back in 2009.  I've refrained from the excitement ever since and have tempered the anticipation after the Tigers got run out of the gym against Pitt.  This is a critical point in the season and the Tigers cannot get on one of those slides we've become used to over the past few seasons.  Let's see if this team can make history tonight and head into February with momentum.

The PGA Tour got it going this past week as the big names teed it up at Torrey Pines.  Unfortunately for the networks, Tiger missed the secondary cut following a disastrous Saturday and Phil withdrew with a back injury.  The field, though, is still filled with great golfers and has already provided the PGA excitement most of us have been looking forward to the past few months.

The Winter Olympics are right around the corner so, naturally, the X-Games are going on now.  To my surprise, there are actually Olympic athletes who choose to compete in the X-Games.  First off, I simply assumed the X-Games were an event stoners came up with to show off their badass skateboard tricks and the Winter X-Games were created to show that "Dude, if you take the wheels off your board, you can take it to the slopes and board on snow!" in response to figuring out the concept of snowboarding.  Anyway, this genius and apparent Olympic favorite Mark McMorris just couldn't turn down Winter-X and broke a rib.  Smooth move.  You would think the yahoos who schedule these things wouldn't have any desire to do it so close to the Olympics because the athletes would be smart to tell them to "pound sand, I am not putting my Olympic dreams on hold for this crap" but apparently that's what you get with this group.

We'll keep an eye on things here and hope to have good things to talk about next week.