Tajh Boyd’s Progress and Clemson’s Success Should Be Given More Credit

Despite Clemson and Tajh Boyd’s Respective Success, Neither Get the Respect They Deserve

Clemson’s offensive resurgence over the past two years is due to the influence of Chad Morris, the highest-paid coordinator in college football for a reason. But Morris has an impressive set of tools to work with, and none has been more essential than quarterback Tajh Boyd.

Although he came to Clemson as a highly-touted recruit, Boyd’s redshirt year was followed by an unimpressive showing in garbage time in 2010 (33 of 63, four touchdowns, three interceptions) capped by a disastrous appearance in the final minutes of the Meineke Car Care Bowl to replace graduating starter Kyle Parker.

Benefiting from Morris’s tutelage and system, Boyd grew into one of the nation’s best in 2011. Even with the Tigers’ late-season implosion, he finished 20th in passing yards per game at 273.4. Boyd is on track for an even better finish this year; he’s currently 14th at 292 yards per game, above big names like Landry Jones, Matt Barkley and Johnny “Football” Manziel. His passer rating of 163.92 is good for tenth in the nation.

Most people could look like a decent quarterback with Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins catching their passes, but Boyd truly is one of the best. His development from last year has been very encouraging, and he’s making better decisions. There have been a few moments that looked uncomfortably like this pick against Florida State, or his attempted throw out of bounds against Virginia Tech that went backwards and was only saved when the officials ruled his knee down. But for the most part he’s kept a good head on his shoulders.

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Clemson and Its Perception Among College Football’s Elite

Clemson Appears to be More Than Just a Regional Football Power, So Where’s the Public Disconnect?

Several years ago, Stewart Mandel’s separation of college football’s major programs into tiers from Kings to Peasants provoked a fierce backlash from Georgia fans who resented their school’s placement in the Baron tier rather than among the Kings alongside SEC brethren Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee. When Mandel revisited his rankings this summer, Georgia remained among the Barons. Whether or not Bulldog fans have a right to gripe, the rankings are interesting for the light they shed on the ACC. Even with lackluster decades, Florida State and Miami remain among the Kings, while Clemson and Virginia Tech are included with the Barons.

Despite Mandel’s ranking, Clemson is rarely mentioned in the same breath as the other programs of the Baron tier. Possessing “SEC-type” fans, whatever that means, one of the most loyal donor bases in the country, a beautiful campus, and a rich tradition, including a national title and more ACC championships than any other program, Clemson seems built to be a King. But although often described as “Auburn with a lake,” the Tigers of South Carolina generally receive much less hype than those of Alabama. The ACC is seen as belonging to Florida State and Virginia Tech; only when extremely talented skill players return, as in 2008 or 2012, does Clemson get any substantial preseason hype, generally the best indicator of a program’s respectability. In last summer’s Conference Re-Draft, Clemson was picked 37th, the last of Mandel’s Barons tier to go off the board and well behind #14 Virginia Tech and #26 Auburn despite owning a generally more successful basketball program and a vastly more prominent baseball program.

In the public relations battle which dominates conference realignment and determinations of a program’s relative value, Clemson has clearly been on the losing side. Notorious for winning games they should lose and and losing even more games they should win, the Tigers haven’t truly been a national presence since Danny Ford left in 1990.  I live in Illinois; when I tell people around me that Clemson is my alma mater, I’m usually greeted with a blank stare, surely an even worse reaction than Mandel’s failure of a hypothetical Montanan to recognize a football helmet. Continue reading

Conference Realignment: A Clemson Fan’s Rant

Should Clemson Leave the ACC for the Big 12? One Tigers Fan is Unsure

Rumors of the imminent departure of Florida State and Clemson for the Big 12 have reached a fever pitch in the last few days, and this embarrassed Clemson fan will admit to Googling “Clemson Big 12” every hour to check the latest message board rumors or statements by university officials taken out of context. While it seems unlikely that anything will happen until late June, when the playoff format has been decided, new Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby has taken office, and West Virginia and TCU get full voting rights, Tiger fans all over the country have been salivating over the chance to join the “big boys” and leave the ACC behind.

Clemson has had a love-hate relationship with the ACC since its foundation. Although the Tigers were a charter member, they’ve always felt out of place in a basketball league. By most standards, Clemson would fit better in the SEC than the ACC. But association with prestigious schools like Georgia Tech, Duke, and North Carolina is a boon to the university’s continuing quest to become a top-20 public school, the primary goal of president Jim Barker’s tenure. Continue reading

The ACC’s Tobacco Road Favoritism

Has Tobacco Road Favoritism Been Detrimental to the ACC? Clemson (and Florida State) Would Say Yes

Last September, the ACC’s addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh was met with a collective “meh” from the league’s football schools. But despite the seemingly lackluster performances of the conference’s new members, their joining was generally interpreted as a sign that the ACC was stable and strong. While the Big East and the Big 12 were facing threats to their very existence, the ACC’s place was secure. It was a conference that people wanted to join, not one threatened by exodus.

Less than a year later, a fresh round of rumors would have us believe that the conference’s collapse is imminent. The football-first schools are supposedly on their way to the Big 12, setting the scene for four power conferences which would line up nicely with the impending four-team playoff. The Big Ten and the SEC might pick up some of the detritus, leaving the league’s weaker schools to fend for themselves.

The culprit is Tobacco Road, or at least the idea of Tobacco Road. The Big 12’s loss of Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and especially Texas A&M was driven by resentment at Texas’ dominance of the league. In a similar way, some ACC schools, especially Clemson and Florida State, begrudge the conference’s domination by the four North Carolina schools, especially Duke and UNC.

It’s no secret that Tobacco Road’s influence in ACC decision-making is disproportionate to the Carolina schools’ numbers. The ACC is a basketball-first conference, after all, and with flagship programs like Duke and North Carolina, numbers three and four on the all-time wins list, it’s understandable that their voices would be louder. ACC football has been an afterthought for most of the conference’s history, apart from brief national runs by Maryland in the 1950s and Clemson in the 1980s, and Florida State’s roughshod run over all competition during the 1990s. Continue reading