on September 3, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Clemson coach calls on Saban, others for advice

CLEMSON — It’s no surprise one of the first people Clemson coach Tommy Bowden called after the Tigers’ 34-10 loss to Alabama last Saturday was his father, Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden.

Tommy usually calls his father anyway each week to talk about church, politics and of course football, but this time he wanted to ask his dad’s thoughts following the debacle, which saw No. 13 Alabama dominate then No. 9 Clemson in just about every phase of the game.

His dad, of course, offered a few scenarios and reminded his second-oldest son of his 1988 Florida State team, which like Tommy’s Clemson team entered that season with a lot of hype. In fact, that year the Seminoles were the Associated Press’ preseason No. 1 team, and like Tommy’s 2008 team, they too started the season with a thud.

That year, Florida State opened with an embarrassing 31-0 loss to archrival Miami. The Hurricanes, like Alabama did Clemson in the Georgia Dome, physically whipped Florida State up front on both sides of the ball. So what did the elder Bowden say to his team following that humbling defeat.

“In bouncing back, you have no options,” Tommy recalled Tuesday. “The biggest thing is how do you approach the team mentally and how do you approach the team in practice.”

Bobby’s 1988 team bounced back and then some. Following the Miami loss, those Seminoles thumped Southern Mississippi the next week 49-13, and then a week later came to Death Valley and used the “punt-rooskie” late in the fourth quarter to beat No. 3 Clemson 24-21. Florida State rolled after that, finishing the year with an 11-1 record, including a 13-7 victory over Auburn in The Sugar Bowl.

Tommy Bowden used that example, as well as Virginia Tech’s turn around a year ago after getting pounded by LSU 48-7 on national television when talking with his team Monday afternoon. He also pointed out how South Carolina beat Georgia early last season before the Bulldogs rallied to earn an at-large berth in the Sugar Bowl.

After he got off the phone with his father, Bowden proceeded to call Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer, Georgia’s Mark Richt and in a surprise, the reasoning behind the calls in the first place, he called Alabama’s Nick Saban.

“As I talked to Coach Saban, I said, ‘I’m not one to think I have enough pride where I got all the answers. You had six months to study me, a guy like you, give me a what did you see,’” Bowden said. “After talking to all of those guys, and of course they all had different answers on why their team performed the way they did and then some ideas on bouncing back.

“I think we have a good plan in practice, and I think we have a good plan in talking with the seniors yesterday and from a mental approach. Bouncing back, you have no options and those are examples of teams that did it and were all resilient.”

Now the question is, is this Clemson team resilient enough?

“We have to make sure we come back to work and make sure we practice on being more physical and really know what you are supposed to do,” Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper said. “You kind of have to learn from last week and make sure we just continue to get better.”

The Tigers (0-1) should have a chance to get better against Football Championship Sub-Division opponent The Citadel this Saturday in Death Valley and then the next week against an N.C. State squad that’s banged up and coming off a 34-0 loss to South Carolina.

Then there is also S.C. State and Maryland, plus keep in mind all four games are at home.

“We have to put it (the Alabama game) behind us and try to learn from our mistakes and carry that through the season,” Harper said. “We have a ton of football left. Teams like Georgia and Virginia Tech got beat early in the season last year and went on to great seasons, so there is still a lot left on the table for us.”