December 29, 2008

Konica Minolta Gator Bowl -- Nebraska (8-4) vs. Clemson (7-5) (Jacksonville Municipal Stadium Jacksonville, Florida January 1, 2009 1pm

Tie Ins: ACC #3 vs. Big 12/Big East/Notre Dame

Dan: Nebraska +2.5

I thought for sure Clemson had packed it in mid-season, but they won their final 3 to make it to 7-5. While that is obviously a huge disappointment considering early season expectations, it is better than that expected on November 1. However, other than the blow-out against Oklahoma, Nebraska won the rest of its last 6 games. Bo has started to turn thinks around in Lincoln. I think the long delay will not do Clemson any favors.

Nebraska 21 Clemson 20

Matt: Nebraska +2.5

I know nothing about this Dabo Swinney guy, but I do know that when schools make sentimental choices for interim coaches, it rarely works out. Bill Stewart is a huge question mark running the West Virginia program, as anyone who watched his postgame interview after the bowl game could tell you. The sideline reporter was literally laughing in his face after he went on some rant about how his players are good fathers and husbands and God bless ESPN and tons more of totally off the wall stuff.

As for the game, I wouldn’t be shocked if Clemson wins. They’ve been playing well down the stretch. But even though Tommy Bowden is gone, I don’t trust a Clemson team that has any expectations on it. Everyone is expecting them to win, but I think Nebraska and the Big Red Nation will descend upon Atlanta and throw the ball all over Clemson.

Nebraska 42 Clemson 35

Mike: Clemson –2.5

This is a tough one to pick, but I must give some credit to Dabo Swinney for holding Clemson together after their early season turmoil.

Clemson 21 Nebraska 17

Doug: Nebraska +2.5

A couple bowl notes. First, I had no idea this game was on CBS now. Was this game on CBS last year?? I thought the Gator Bowl was an NBC staple. Does that put the NBC bowl game count at ZERO now?? NBC Sports!! Why do they even call themselves a sports division?? NBC Sports has become an absolute disgrace. In our youth, they were a juggernaut of the sports tv world. They used to be the home of AFC football, the NBA, ND football, and they were good for some bowl games and other major events (Olympics, tennis, US Open golf). Now they are down to ND football, one NFL game on Sunday night that I’ll admit that I forget to watch more often than not, the Olympics, tennis/golf, and that’s it. And NBC wonder why no one watches their programming during the week.

Second, who is going to bring more fans to J-Ville?? I honestly am not sure. We all know about Nebraska’s reputation for travel. They will bring hordes of fans just about anywhere. But Clemson fans are no joke!! When I went to that Wake-Clemson game earlier this year, Winston-Salem turned into Death Valley North. There was orange everywhere, and the SEC haircuts were flowing at the local bars. I think the city of Jacksonville stumbled upon a pretty lucky matchup to get these two fanbases. Should be some entertaining action going on down at “The Landing” this weekend. If there are any Husker or Tiger fans reading this blog, I recommend Legends!

As for the game, I like the Huskers here. I like what Bo Pelini is doing at Nebraska, and the Huskers are starting to hit their stride a little bit. They haven’t really beaten anyone of note, but they’ve won five out of their last six games. Pelini is going to have some work to do on the defensive side of the ball, but I really think the Huskers could be the team to beat in the Big 12 North next year. And if Pelini can recruit well, they could eventually get into the conversation again with the big boys in the Big 12.

Now, Clemson, here we go. I don’t want to knock this Dabo Swinney guy since I know nothing about him, but let me just go on record and say that I think Clemson fans will be grumbling about this hire in the very near future.

Dear college football athletic directors,

For the love of god, stop hiring interim coaches based on how they look over a 2-3 game period!! A lot of times the players are going all out for the interim coach, but these emotional runs are not sustainable. You need to make sure the coach is ready to be a long term fit at your school. Can he recruit?? Does he have a leadership plan for the ups and downs? Does he have an idea how to implement a program??

We saw it with Bill Stewart, we've seen it guys like Mike Davis and Brian Ellerbe. How many of these "interim" hires actually work out?? Maybe Swinney is a rising star in the coaching profession who would have been hired anyway, but I'd be shocked if he was the best guy out there for this program. I had never even heard of this guy until he got hired. It wasn't like he was some hot coordinator. Obviously, there are "no-names" out there on coaching staffs who may have the goods to be a good head coach. Urban Meyer was a WR coach at ND when he got hired for his first head coaching job, so it is possible. I just think Clemson took a huge risk with Swinney, and I don't think he'll be the long term answer at Clemson.

Clemson is a good job. They could have hired a good young coach if they had done their homework. To just hire the interim coach who ran off some wins at the end of the year is asking for trouble. Maybe Swinney will work out, but I'll take a guess that he doesn't.

Nebraska 35 Clemson 31

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