A butterfly flaps its wings in Los Angeles and Clemson fans very nearly had a bad day.
Three years ago Southern Cal stole Lane Kiffin and stuck Tennessee with Louisiana Tech’s 17-20 Derek Dooley. There never was a more prototypical fall-guy.
Derek’s youthful verve dazzled us with starched orange pants and that magnificent comb-over. Energy, effort, and that precious last name kept the naysayers at bay for precisely ... er ... never mind. Tennessee fans always knew they were on the rebound. Derek secured their self-esteem, though they knew it would never last.
Poor Derek. With all the NCAA sanctions, he was given a rolled-up newspaper to take to a gun fight. Good thing for Gamecock fans, Derek’s no Jason Bourne with a rolled-up newspaper. No matter how depleted the squad, UT fans sincerely believe they gave Derek the great privilege of coaching their football team.
And very soon the Tennessee brain trust demurred like the cute 9th grade cheerleader who ditches her middle school crush for the Junior with a driver’s license. “Derek, you’re really sweet and you treated me right. My dad even likes you. But Butch drives a 300Z. Can we still be friends?”
So, Cincinnati responds by somehow upgrading to Tommy Tuberville and next thing we know Chad Morris is all Guns Up in Lubbock. It’s at this point my Clemson friends are in full-fledged freak out mode. Which was awesome. You know the end of the story - TTech opted for their very own former standout, Kliff Kingsbury.
Kudos to Kliff, by the way, for leveraging Manziel’s Heisman into his family’s permanent financial security. Well played, sir. Well played. Just don’t take investment advice from John L. Smith.
For 48 hours we got to watch Clemson fans squirm, but I was conflicted. You see, I love it when Clemson fans have bad days. But I want Clemson fans to have lots of bad days. And deep down I’m convinced that Chad Morris’s offensive philosophy is flawed and that his presence on Clemson’s staff will ultimately result in more disappointing days ahead.
Let me explain.
First, like most garnet-clad aficionados, I have a very low opinion of the ACC. I used to think of the conference as something like a 2A high school compared to the 5A. Yeah, you have some nice athletes. And every once and again you can field a squad capable of competing with the big boys, but good luck over the long haul.
I don’t think in terms of that analogy any more. I think of the ACC vs. the SEC more like the JV vs. the Varsity.
Yet, Clemson’s brand-name and fan support ACC-wise is second only to Florida State’s - the Tigers are going to draw talent. But it’s my opinion that Clemson would have posted the same win/loss record the last few seasons no matter who was coaching them. The ACC is simply that bad.
Second, consider our current football champions. The New York Giants won with a dominant defensive line and balance on offense. Same for the Crimson Tide. And have you watched North Dakota State? Defending I-AA champs (I don’t care what they call it now) and returning to the championship game? They look like Alabama clad in green and gold. And as an added bonus, NDSU fans generally refrain from sexual deviancy and arborcide when celebrating wins or mourning defeats.
I’ll let Gary Danielson make the point. Somewhere during our tilt verses Mizzou, Gary said something like, “Great teams can score slow when they have to. They secure the ball, get points, and keep the defense fresh.” Gary also said we couldn’t win the SEC with our current offensive line play. Crap. That means Gary was right twice.
I say, let Dabo and his cronies relish all the hollow victories while we build a team capable of squeezing the life out of an opponent. That’s what LSU did to us - they put us in the sleeper hold. In the long run, I’m convinced it’s better to build a boa constrictor than a jack rabbit.
Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. And many more bitter disappointments for our orange-clad neighbors.