Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bennett and Blogs don't mix

Five years ago, the word "blog" wasn't even a word. Now, it's getting thrown around when it comes to just about anything associated with the internet. I always thought a blog was exactly what I'm doing right here, but it has gone beyond that. So I did a little google work and came up with this definition:

Web LOG is a journal kept on the internet. This journal is often updated daily and contains all information that the person maintaining the BLOG (Blogger) wishes to share with the world. Also applies to websites dedicated to a particular topic and being updated with the latest news, views and trends.

I have to admit that I get a chuckle whenever Coach Bennett talks about bloggers. The first time he made a bold statement about how he doesn't value what bloggers have to say and what people are posting on the internet, my heart actaully sank to my stomach. Coach Bennett writes a weekly column for Palmetto Pigskin Preview. It also gets posted on his website. I tried to come up with a catchy name for it, something with a little bit of alliteration and I came up with Bennett's Blog. Technically, it was a weekly newspaper column, but it really was sort of a personal diary and it was posted on the web so I thought I had a little bit of creative freedom in using the name "Bennett's Blog". As soon as I heard his first "anti-blog" rant, I quickly changed the name. If you pick up the PPP, you will see it is now Coach Bennett's weekly column. Coach and I had a good laugh over this.

At the Stony Brook press conference, Coach Bennett actually got into more detail about his disdain for blogs. When it gets down to it, he doesn't have a problem with the traditional straight forward blog (like this one). It's the message boards where people lurk in anonymity and make random posts with no consequences because no one really knows who they are. This is a part of the new age of journalism where the lines can easily be blurred between credible reporting and a simple spread of rumors. Someone can post on a message board any kind of rumor and it will take on a life of its own. We saw this first hand when Buzz Peterson was rumored to be the College of Charleston's next head coach.

I can promise you this - David Bennett doesn't read blogs (not this one, or any of them). He writes his weekly column on a piece of legal paper and either has me or one of his administrative assistants type it in and email it to me. I've never seen him duck a question or a tough issue in six years. Every single athlete in any sport would be well served to never read a message board as the majority of it is simply stirring the pot in a cauldron of negativity.

"Who's on the blog? Put your real name on the blog!"

That's what Coach Bennett said at the press conference. So I'm here to say this is Rich Chrampanis, on the blog, signing off and taking Coach's advice to find something more productive to do!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bowden Bailout

The Tommy Bowden era came to a crashing halt on Monday which was shows you how chaotic things must have gotten in TigerTown. I think after the Wake Forest loss, it was a foregone conclusion that it was the beginning of the end, but Tommy saw things so out of control that he walked away.

On the one side of things, you have to look at some numbers.

72 wins in 9 plus seasons (that's almost 8 wins a year)
7-2 against your archrival (Lloyd Carr would still be the Michigan coach if he had this stat alone)
8 bowl trips in 9 seasons
a pretty solid graduation rate

It reminds me a little bit of what happened to Frank Solich at Nebraska and the Cornhuskers haven't gotten back to that level with Bill Callahan and now Bo Pellini, but it's early.

On the flip side, Tommy Bowden had immense talent on the field. No one can deny that. You are looking at as many as a dozen guys that will get drafted in the next couple of years. The pre-season #9 ranking and the pre-season ACC player of the year to go along with the pre-season favorite to win it all in the conference. Everyone in the country was buying the hype that the Tigers were a lock for Jacksonville and a heavy favorite to go to the Orange Bowl. That was the level of expectations in Death Valley and anything below that would be deemed a failure. When people were calling Clemson a fraud after getting waxed by Alabama, I always thought that the ultiamte goal was very much on the table (ACC title game and a shot at the Orange Bowl). The ACC was down and I thought that Clemson could still reach their ulimate goal. I remember leaving for Greensboro and the Chants game at North Carolina A&T. When we got in the car at the station, Clemson was already up 17-6 on Maryland. By the time we arrived at the stadium, the Terps had started the Clemson spiral towards the end of the Bowden era. With Spiller and Davis, Ford and Kelly and Cullen Harper it is mind boggling that seven quarters without a touchdown could happen.

I was a Bowden defender throughout all of his tenure at Clemson. In 2003, he was one loss away from getting canned. He turned around and beat his Dad for the first time, hung up 63 on the Gamecocks and then whipped Tennessee in the Peach Bowl. That was an 8 week course on how to go from nearly fired to getting a big pay raise. Last year, he was an Aaron Kelly dropped pass from getting to the ACC championship game and maybe Miami (Orange Bowl). If Aaron Kelly catches that ball, does Tommy get a mulligan for this year?

I find it interesting how names get thrown into the mix just hours after a coach leaves. Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp is a hot name and so is Bobby Johnson, a former Clemson player, who has done wonderful things at Vanderbilt. Dabo Swinney was a wise choice to ride out the season. He is Clemson's top recruiter and has been in the living rooms of many of the current players on the roster. He can also keep the peace with Clemson's long list of verbal commitments for next season. All indications are that our two local players, Quandon Christian of Lake View and West Florence's Malliciah Goodman are still verbal commitments to Clemson.

On a personal level, Bowden was a class act to deal with. Every December, he would come down to the North/South banquet and the Mister Football presentation and would always give me 15 minutes to do a one on one interview to get ready for the bowl game at the end of that month. He recognized that we covered his program extensively even though we were four and a half hours away. He was always very approachable and noticed when we made the long journey to Clemson. To his credit, he played the game well and got himself a couple of nice contracts. When I start to feel bad that the pressure and the negativity got so intense on Tommy, I realize that he gets $3.5 million dollars to deal with all of that.

The next Clemson coach must realize this:

You better get to Tampa (site of this year's ACC title game), and you better get to the Orange Bowl. Going to bowl games, graduating your kids and winning more than you lose isn't going to cut it at Clemson. With the money poured into the facilities and the talent base that is on the field, these things are possible. Welcome to the 21st century of college football.