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Bye Week Love

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I’ve got plenty of love for Desmond Howard and Sooner Nation

Oklahoma v Texas Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Hello Clemson faithful, I hope you’re enjoying the bye week. While most of you are making plans to clean the gutters, mow the yard one last time, and attend a bunch of weddings (because people just can’t help getting married in the fall even though it is an easy thing to plan around), I’m sitting here thinking about love. You see, as a recovering hater, I have to fill my mind with love at all times, otherwise the hate creeps back in like a thief in the night. I usually like to focus my attention on Clemson, but this brief respite in the schedule allows me to look outside my orange and purple tinted world and spread the love around to two other candidates, desperately in need of our love.

Desmond Howard

This one is tough, because Desmond has been critical of our Tigers recently and that makes me want to go on a rage filled hate bender, but I now see this as a test of my love. I can confidently say that I love Desmond Howard and I understand where his Clemson hate is coming from.

You see, Desmond is the odd man out at College GameDay and in his mind, any attention has become good attention. He’s a drowning man grasping for any available lifeline, and Clemson football may be his best chance to once again reach the shore.

I break it down the GameDay personalities like this:

Rece Davis: Level headed host that keeps things heading in the right direction.

Lee Corso: Comic relief and nostalgia

Kirk Herbstreit: Lead analyst, the rational voice above the din

David Pollack: Charismatic college legend with solid analytic abilities

Desmond Howard: Wearer of nice suits

David Pollack is the real problem for Desmond, because he’s better at the role Howard filled for years. Prior to David Pollack, Howard was both a charismatic college legend (his analytical abilities were questionable, but Herbstreit covered that flaw) and a wearer of nice suits. Now, all he has is his sartorial splendor, and I’m just not sure how long his career can last on fashionable clothing alone.

Just sit back and think about this for a moment: Desmond Howard, a man that gets paid to give his opinions on college football, picked Michigan to beat Alabama in the National Championship game. That alone should be grounds for dismissal, but I’ll give the man a break on Michigan. If he didn’t play for Michigan, he wouldn’t have sniffed the Heisman in 1991.

Howard was a very good, possibly even great college wide receiver (although his stats point more towards very good over great, as does his subsequent professional football career). Desmond’s truly elite skill, the ability that set him apart from the rest of the deserving Heisman candidates in 1991, was self promotion. Statistically speaking, you could make a compelling argument for several other players in a weak 1991 Heisman field (Marshal Faulk was the only player receiving votes that went on to have an elite pro career), but when Howard did the Heisman pose after returning a kick against a marginal OSU team in the Big House, the visual impact was too compelling. The sports writers swooned, woke up, scribbled his name on the ballot and tossed it in the mail.

Michigan has done a great deal for Desmond, and I understand having a fervent love for your school, but he also picked South Carolina to win the East over Georgia this season.

Picking South Carolina to win anything, historically speaking, is a foolish decision that deserves scorn and condemnation, but picking the Will Muschamp Gamecocks over Georgia in the year of our lord 2018 is unfathomable. Only the Donner Party and their decision to push on and into the Sierra Nevada Mountains with winter fast approaching rivals Desmond’s choice of South Carolina in the pantheon of poor choices, and that ended in cannibalism. I can only hope and pray that Desmond was simply trying to enrage the Georgia fan base for notoriety, much like he is currently trying to inflame the passions of the Clemson fan base. If his choice of South Carolina wasn’t just a desperate grab for attention, I have serious concerns about this mental health.

As far as Clemson goes, Howard is desperately attempting to remain relevant. He’s looking for any way possible way to get his name in the news and justify his pay checks, and going after Clemson isn’t a terrible strategy.

Last season, Joel Klatt went after Clemson and now I know the name of a marginal quarterback from Colorado. Clay Travis built a little part of his empire by provoking Clemson fans on the internet. Gregg Doyel (who I must say is reformed and doing great work in Indianapolis) did the same thing when he was in Raleigh. Howard knows that if you go at Clemson, Clemson fans will go after you, and subsequently, he gets attention.

Hear me out friends, because I don’t think you’re going to like what I’m about to say.

We shouldn’t hate Desmond Howard. No, instead we should have empathy and love for a man that is in over his head at his job. A man that has been overtaken by a more talented version of himself. He’s gone from a starring role to an extra, and that’s got to be challenging for someone that has based an entire career on grabbing the spotlight. His pride is hurting and we should be sensitive to his problems. He needs a hug not a harsh rebuke.

Desmond, if you’re reading this, I just want you to know that I love you. I’m sorry you’re going through some tough times right now and are desperately trying to use Clemson football to get another little sliver of spotlight pointed in your direction.

I will leave you with a little friendly advice though....never pick South Carolina to win anything....ever....it never works out.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma may have the most repugnant and delusional fan base in college football, and that title is fiercely contested on a daily basis. Any time there is a college football debate, Sooner fans race to the nearest library, jump on the internet and BOOOOOOMMMMMMMMER SOOOOOOOOOOOONER!!!!!!!!!! as long and as hard as the computer usage time limit allows. Their arguments are nonsensical and their grammar is atrocious, but you’ve got to love and respect the unfettered passion for Oklahoma football.

My fellow Tigers, Oklahoma fans are hurting right now, they are facing some hard truths about their program, and they need all the love and support we can offer.

Sooner fans live in a world of blissful delusion where OU is a college football stalwart. In their world, they support a program that is one step away from greatness, and their foot is hovering over the step. This, of course, is utter nonsense, but, to be fair (as I always am), they’ve been sitting at the top of the Big 12 for a long time. They aren’t being disingenuous when they call Oklahoma an elite program, no sir, they are not. The believe in Sooner greatness with every fiber of their being, and in times long past (2000 to be exact), they were rewarded for that devotion with a National Championship.

Unfortunately for Sooner fans, the year 2000 is getting farther and farther in the past. Granted, OU’s National Championship isn’t as dusty as South Carolina’s lone conference championship banner from 1969, but the dust is beginning to settle and the moths are eyeing that OU banner hungrily.

If I may (and I can because this is my article), I would like to use myself as an example.

In 2000 I had long, glorious, flowing locks, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since Delilah so cruelly had Samson shorn in his sleep. In 2018 I’m sitting at the computer, stroking my beard because the follicles on the top of my head, much like Oklahoma football, have stopped producing.

In 2000 my knees where well oiled machines capable of propelling my lithe body to the rim with ease. In 2018, much like Oklahoma football, I just can’t get off the ground. I see the rim, I remember what the rim feels like in my hands, but it’s maddeningly out of reach.

In 2000 I was in peak physical condition at a well put together 6’3, 200 pounds. Now, much like Oklahoma football, I’m still in decent shape, but at 6’3, 225, I’m a little soft around the middle, still respectable mind you, but nowhere near my peak form of 18 years ago.

Folks, Oklahoma lost a crushing game last weekend. They almost pulled off one of the most incredible comebacks in college football history, but as is their custom, they were betrayed by their shoddy defense when it mattered most.

This loss has nullified so many confident predictions. I was assured by droves of OU fans that this was their year. I was assured that they had the defense figured out and that they were going to breeze through the Big 12 in route to the CFP and an eventual National Championship. I was told that Clemson couldn’t hold a candle to the Sooners this year and any evidence to the contrary was castigated as a figment of my addled and biased mind. Even after Army rolled into Norman and took the mighty Sooners to overtime, I was informed that it was a mere aberration, a small and inconsequential footnote on the road to glory.

I get it, I really do, these poor people were led astray. People like the aforementioned Desmond Howard considered Oklahoma to be the second best team in the nation last week, and how could you possibly doubt the judgement of a former Heisman trophy winner in a well cut suit? They were fed lies and they devoured them, oblivious to the obvious signs of their impending doom.

Clemson Nation, Sooner fans are hurting right now and I am genuinely concerned. I see them looking at Clemson’s football program and earnestly believing that they too can reach our great heights. They believe that Oklahoma football will once again climb to the highest peaks and breathe in the fresh, unsullied air of total victory, and they are living with false hope.

Sooner fans, if you’re reading this, I offer you this from noted turn of the century Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore.

“O poor, unthinking human heart! Error will not go away, logic and reason are slow to penetrate. We cling with both arms to false hope, refusing to believe in the weightiest proofs against it, embracing it with all our strength. In the end it escapes, ripping our veins and draining our heart’s blood; until, regaining consciousness, we rush to fall into snares of delusion all over again”

Sooner fans, I love you, and it’s time to free yourself from your self imposed prison. It’s time to release your false hope, and your delusions of grandeur and accept your fate as a very good but no longer elite football program. I know this is a difficult, but I only ask that you try. If you can achieve this level of college football enlightenment, the victories will taste sweeter and the inevitable defeats will be less bitter and lingering.

Good luck Sooners. I know my fellow Clemson fans will be supporting you as you deal with this difficult transition into reality. If you ever need a reminder of your place in college football, just schedule a game with the Clemson Tigers. If recent history is any indicator, you will ruthlessly humbled, not out of hate, but out of love.

See you all next week. I’ve got a heart full of love for NC State.