Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Orange Bowl

Ever hear of Dabo Swinney? Me neither. But they sure have in Clemson, South Carolina. Swinney's the head football coach of the Clemson Tigers (has been since 2009), and right now they're feeling pretty good about their football in Clemson.

They just knocked off the Buckeyes of Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. Yep, those same Buckeyes that hadn't tasted defeated in almost two years have now get whupped two games in a row. Remember, Michigan State throttled OSU in the Big 10 championship game a few weeks ago.

At any rate, the Orange Bowl was quite a game. Lots of spectacular plays from both teams, on both sides of the ball.

Also, this was the first time Clemson had faced Ohio State since 1978 at the Gator Bowl. Thirty five years is a long time to wait for a rematch. Clemson won that game back when Jimmy Carter was President, the Shah was still running the show in Iran, the "miracle on ice" of the 1980 winter Olympic games wouldn't happen for two more years, and yours truly had 6-pack abs. Seems like a long time ago.....

The 1978 game remains notable because that's when one Wayne Woodrow (Woody) Hayes went berserk along the sidelines and clubbed a Clemson player running by on the field. Yep, old Woody lowered the lumber on that poor devil. But even back then -- a couple decades before what we now know as politically correct fever would sweep the nation -- this was not acceptable. Despite his well-deserved legendary status in the college football world, and being almost God-like in Columbus -- a fire storm ensued and the fiery Woody was fired himself by OSU. Even a legend has his limits -- and that was WAY over the line. It would be the last game Hayes ever coached. Woody would pass on to the eternal three yards and a cloud of dust kingdom in 1987.

OSU coaches have come and gone since the late Woody prowled the sidelines. Nowadays, there's a guy named Urban Meyer in charge. Urban has been very successful wherever he's coached. And I'm not sure, but I suspect he and his rumored godfather Oscar Meyer have made a killing selling bologna and wieners on the side for the last few decades as well.

But even though Urban's modern-day Buckeyes went down to defeat at the hands of the same Clemson Tigers -- at least he didn't club an opposing player like his long ago predecessor did. Perhaps the savages in Columbus have become a bit more civilized in the last 35 years. Either that, or they've become more adept at disguising their true nature. Hmmm. Food for thought....

On the other hand, even though his team eventually prevailed, Clemson's Dabo Swinney had every reason to club a player. One of his own. Namely his right offensive tackle. He might be big, he might be strong, he might even block well -- but evidently the dude's got the brains of a brick. False start. Another false start. Hands to the face for a penalty. Another false start.If Jim Schwartz hadn't already been fired, I'd say this guy was perfect draft material for the Detroit Lions. But hey, the Fords still own the team, so don't rule him out just yet. In the 35 years since Woody Hayes pulled a bone-headed move, the Lions have pulled hundreds of them.

Nevertheless, congrats to Dabo Swinney and his Clemson Tigers on winning the Orange Bowl over those dastardly Buckeyes. They likely feel on top of the world right now, and good for them. When they get back home to South Carolina, let them feel some serious love from their fans.

Just one thing. Being Orange Bowl champs is good. Hopefully it makes them forget about the horrific beating Florida State put on them in their own backyard earlier this year (51-14), and maybe that vague memory of a 31-17 drubbing at the hands of their in-state rival South Carolina Gamecocks has finally gone away.

Things are good in Clemson right now. Maybe even Wayne Woodrow Hayes has let bygones be bygones and is looking down, or up, whichever, to give his blessing.

Beats a whack to the throat....
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