I hope everyone is having a great Easter Sunday. I hope the Easter Bunny filled everyone's basket with goodies and all the mom's out there dressed their kids in lots of pastels, bowties, seersucker shorts, yellow blazers, and long socks en route to Easter Sunday services. Be sure to take a lot of pictures because these Easter pictures seem to be the best form of blackmail when the your offspring reach their teenage years. If you want to post your favorite Easter pictures, I'll let those shenanigans go today in the comments section.
We all thought that the conclusion of the Spring Game last Saturday would provide buzz for the next couple days then we'd all settle down and await Fall Camp. While we are definitely focused on the start of Camp, the Swag Kelly fallout provides a topic that will be explored for some time. This thing has been beaten around all over the place so I won't try and recreate the scenarios and scenes, just provide my take on things.
First and foremost, Kelly has been a lightning rod since day one. We all knew he'd bounced around in high school with little real explanation and Chad tweeted a "warning shot" at Cole Stoudt before ever donning a Clemson jersey. Many people will say that these were warning items and that the staff should have abandoned Kelly before he even really got it going on campus. What you have to realize is that football is a big boy game that relies on bringing big talent to campus. There was no question in Kelly's talent. The coaches likely saw a cocky high school kid who had never really faced adversity nor probably been seriously challenged. Football staffers are coaches and, in many cases, are father-figures to the players in their programs. Further, I am sure every coach can point to many, many players who entered their program as young punks who lacked discipline and were transformed into mature leaders. All that being said, I believe that most coaches believe (and rightly so) that they can change lives. They will shy away from players who have had run-ins with the law or less talented players who act like jackasses. In Kelly I believe they saw an immature teenager who had enough talent to play well on the D-1 level but who would also be humbled early and molded by The Chad, Swinney, and the rest of the Clemson football / football support staff.
Clearly, that is not what happened. Chad Kelly may have matured through the ACL recuperation process but was not able to contain his emotions and acted like a punk when faced with adversity / placed in non-ideal conditions. I understand the pressure he placed on this Spring then Fall Camp-if he didn't earn a starting role before the '15 season he would be relegated to the bench his whole Clemson career-but could never fathom the implosion that occurred because of it. Further, I've entertained theories that Swinney and crew were intentionally putting Kelly in tough situations where less than spectacular results were expected. They wanted the quarterback competition to spill into summer and culminate into Fall and (rightly) wouldn't have cared if Kelly had a bad outing because Spring Games are nothing more than glorified practices. Anyway, if pressuring Kelly was a staff strategy, kudos for providing this test. If Swag was going to blow up, act like an idiot, and damage his team's chances for victory, I am glad it happened when it didn't count. This may be a bit of a stretch but I wonder if the Kyle Parker debacle of 2010 had any influence on how Swinney managed this situation. You'll recall that offseason was a bit of a circus and the regular season ended with Parker showing his ass after the season did not go as all would have liked.
Regardless of how the plot line progressed, Kelly's behavior at the Spring Game was ridiculous. This type of insubordination is unacceptable...especially for your starting quarterback. Any fallout that resonated on Monday gave Swinney no choice but to act...and we support that decision. A coach cannot tolerate this behavior out of his players and specifically cannot allow one of his quarterbacks to do this crap. Swinney put up with as much as he could and ultimately made the proper decision. You can't keep this kind of distraction around else it becomes a complete circus. Good luck to Chad "Swag" Kelly moving forward but his shenanigans were just too much to justify remaining at Clemson.
As QT discussed earlier this week, the exit of Swag likely had a big impact on pulling Kelly Bryant into the fold. He now understands that barring some unusual circumstances, Watson will not redshirt this season. Obviously, this means that Watson will be a sophomore next season instead of a redshirt freshman-an obvious selling point for the staff. We'll be interested to see how this position shapes up with the '15 cycle and following Spring Drills next year. Clearly we'll almost require early enrollment at the QB position especially considering the depth issues that will carry over into calendar year 2015.
We discussed golf at length last weekend. Fortunately, my golf pool roster was able to weather the third round storm and survive a double tiebreaker decision to win and break the streak of The Wagon. The top 4 players were -9. The first tiebreaker was overall winning score with both predictions being -8. The second tiebreaker was best round of the tourney which I was fortunate to nail at 66. Hopefully this is just the first leg of what could become a FIGUREFOUR slam (well, now that I've clearly jinxed that one).
The Tour is in Hilton Head this weekend. The weather has not cooperated with the event and I was concerned whether they would be able to finish the event on time given the weather conditions. Play moved forward at a decent pace Saturday so it appears as though there should be no issue crowing a champion on Sunday. We were seriously looking at heading down there for at least one round of this one but the weather obviously wasn't looking good. I've heard this is a fun tournament to catch and have never attended so I was a bit disappointed to see all the rain Friday and Saturday (that and the rain will keep me of the course here at home as well). One of the great things about this tournament is the course itself. The greens are small and there are a lot of obstructions. Consequently, the players are forced to shape most of their shots coming in. This makes the shot before the approach much more important and the approach shots entertaining and unique. It seems as though most of the approaches feature water and/or a tree to navigate around. The par 3's are all tough and the course well designed. Dye and Nicklaus clearly knew what they were doing and the course has grown in its own unique features.
The Tour heads down to New Orleans next week and will be at Quail Hollow the first week of May. Obviously, the tournament at TPC Sawgrass beginning May 8 is the next really, really big one on the schedule. This stretch through the US Open and into the British Open is always intriguing.
If you don't follow the European Tour, you may not have seen this item yet (though it has been popular on the national sports shows). Pablo Larrazabal was playing in a European Tour event in Malaysia. He was attacked by a swarm of hornets and his only option was to jump into a lake located on the course. I don't believe I've ever seen such out of a major tour (no doubt your weekend hacker is likely to stumble upon an insect hive, a poisonous snake, or-in some locations-a gator). Impressively, Larrazabal recovered from this incident to finish out the hole with a birdie. Larrazabal is no slouch having won in Abu Dhabi earlier this year over a very strong field. Interesting fact about Larrazabal is his father would not allow him to turn professional at the age of 19. Instead, Larrazabal apparently worked on the family fish farm for a couple years to learn the value of money before making a living playing golf.
Michelle Wie put together a fantastic round yesterday to overcome a substantial deficit en route to a runaway win down in Hawaii. It is incredible to me to see that she is only 24 years old. Wie has been on the national golf scene for well over a decade and it seems as though she has been playing on that stage for even longer. Wie was the runner up at the year's first major and it appears as though she may have many distractions behind her and is about to get on the roll most expected 8 or so years ago.
While the focus on Sunday will be on Hilton Head, the real treat may be just outside Atlanta at Sugarloaf. There, the Senior Tour has a final grouping consisting of Freddy Couples, Bernhard Langer, and Miguel Angel Jimenez (golf's alleged version of the "most interesting man in the world"). This is not just a grouping of legends, it is a grouping of the upper tier of world golfers. Don't believe me? Look at last week's leaderboard and tell me that is incorrect. When you have three guys who didn't just make the cut at Augusta but challenged for top spots deep in the tournament, you have a great field. When you consider they all compete on the Senior Tour, it is impressive. Should be an interesting afternoon of golf.
Both the Winston Cup and Busch Series boys are taking Easter weekend off and will pick up the series schedule next week in Richmond. The trucks are on the sidelines for another couple weeks until Kansas in May. I will admit the discussion of removing Winston Cup racing from Darlington leaves me a little pissed. I get it, attendance is not where Helton would like it but, damnit, that is what happens when you take away the traditional dates it had and move it around on the schedule. Labor Day weekend used to always involve NASCAR and Darlington in addition to the Spring Race. NASCAR decided that one of its oldest tracks wasn't worthy of two races, nor was it worthy of its traditional Labor Day spot. So NASCAR came up with an idea that seemed to work...night racing on Mother's Day weekend. Now the race is in April but at night. Quit moving dates around and you will probably get the results you want. Put it back in May. The ultimate best option is Labor Day weekend, but you know the powers in charge want it in a bigger local so that isn't an option. Whatever you do, don't even flirt with the option of leaving Darlington else you may lose the few loyal base fans you still have after the past fifteen/twenty years of pissing off your core fans.
I neglected to discuss the passing of one of wrestling's greatest last week. RIP Ultimate Warrior. While Warrior was probably legitimately insane (well, at least for part of his wrestling career), there is no doubt he was one of the most recognizable faces of the WWF in the late ‘80's / early ‘90's. Here is just a glimpse of what you got when UW got a microphone in front of him (though you may have no clue what he is talking about, you knew whatever he was yelling was freaking awesome).