Tidbits - January 23, 2020

TIDBITS by RALPH SHEALY


THEY’LL BE BACK....

  Clemson lost the national championship game to LSU last Monday, but the Tigers are probably the only team you can almost guarantee will be in the Final Four next year.
  LSU was the better team, but that batch of Tigers loses many great players, including the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Joe Burrows.
  Not only will Clemson have their outstanding quarterback Trevor Lawrence back, but record breaking running back Travis Etienne stunned everyone when he said he would return for his senior year.
  When I heard that, I thought “ETN,” as Clemson fans call him, had made a stupid mistake. All I saw was Gamecock star running back Marcus Lattimore’s leg waving in the air like a helicopter blade in the Tennessee game his junior year.
  Chosen one of the SEC’s top running backs of the decade, Lattimore never played another down. Oh, he had a insurance policy that paid him over a million dollars if he couldn’t play in the NFL, but imagine what double digit millions salary he could be making if he hadn’t been injured.
  Unlike ETN,  Lattimore was not eligible to go pro. Travis has played his required three years, and could declare to be drafted.
  Maybe, ETN thought his draft stock would go up if he stayed one more, thus he could make more money. Every draft site I goggled had him picked to go in the first round this year. I just hope he doesn’t get hurt.
  The problem with the star Clemson players coming back for their senior years is not for the overall team, but for the players behind them that were expecting to step up into starting positions.
Clemson is one of the few teams that may have too many good players.
  Brice, the good backup quarterback, has entered the transfer portal, as has a defensive lineman.
  The Tigers have the top recruiting class in the country this year, including the top high school quarterback. What will he do if Trevor decides to come back for his senior year?
  Both Etienne and Lawrence were hurt by Clemson’s schedule this season. Both rarely played in the fourth quarter, because the Tigers were blowing people away. More impressive stats and both would have been in the Heisman hunt this year.
  I envision the same thing happening next year.
  The Tigers non-conference schedule will include Akron, The Citadel, Notre Dame and Carolina. The ACC schedule will include the regular division opponents, plus Virginia.
  Notre Dame at South Bend could be interesting, but even if Tigers lose to the Irish (which they won’t), I don’t see another team on the schedule that can beat them.
  Clemson fans, start making your travel plans for 2020. The semifinals will be played in LA and New Orleans on New Year’s Day and the championship will be played in Miami.
  In the first quarter of the championship game, I thought Clemson was going to win. LSU had terrible field position in the period, and once that batch of Tigers got going, it was over.
  LSU quarterback Joe Burrows had a phenomenal season. He only threw 16 touchdown passes last year. This year he threw 60.
  Someone pointed out Carolina’s school record for touchdown passes in a career is 61, and Burrows threw for 60 in one season!
  Saluda fans can correlate Burrow’s season with that of Noah Bell. Noah went where no Saluda quarterback has gone before, passing for over 4000 yards, and 49 touchdowns in 15 games.
  Burrows rushed for 368 yards and five touchdowns. Noah rushed for 549 yards and 16 touchdowns. So, Burrows accounted for 65 touchdowns, and  so did Noah. Both led their Tiger teams to championships.
  Prior to Noah coming on the scene, the Tiger passing and total offense records belonged to Ryan Nichols. In 2006 Ryan threw for a record  1707 yards and 20 touchdowns. He set the total offense record by also leading the team in rushing with 253 yards and six touchdowns.
  Compare Ryan’s 1707 yards passing, 20 touchdown passes, 253 yards rushing, six touchdowns, 1960 total offense, 26  touchdown responsibility, to Noah’s this year: 4029 yards passing, 49 touchdowns, 549 yards rushing, 16 touchdowns, 4578 total offense, 65 touchdown responsibility, and you see what a remarkable season Noah had.
  As a person who has kept stats since 1977, I knew Saluda’s historic passing allergy. So, when Ryan had that remarkable season in 2006, I thought it would never been broken. Noah broke Ryan’s passing yardage record three season’s in a row!
  I saw Ryan Nichols on the field at Hite Stadium after Saluda beat Abbeville for the Upper State title, and said, “Noah broke all you records.”
  “Yes,” he said, “but he’s a man!”
  A lot of team found that out this year.
  Oh, by the way, Noah set the Border Bowl passing record, by throwing for 256 yards. If you could count his three touchdowns passes in the game to his year’s stats he would BEAT Burrows with 68 touchdown responsibility!
  Burrows has gotten a lot of social media coverage, not because of great season, but because people think he looks like McCauley Culkin in “Home Alone.”  Actually, he looks more like McCauley then, than McCauley looks now.
  One meme had the scene from “Home Alone 2” when “Kevin” asks directions from Donald Trump in The Plaza. Beside that, it has Joe shaking hands with President Trump at the White House last week.
  Back to the LSU-Clemson game, the Tigers (Clemson) entered the game with a 29 game winning streak.
  After the loss, Tim Bourret, former Clemson Sports Information Director, tweeted. “But the jinx of the #29 strikes again. Won 29 in a row versus Virginia in FB. Won 29 straight in Littlejohn, 29 straight home baseball, 29 match winning streak Pender Murphy tennis, 29 straight baseball vs. Furman. Then lost going for  30 all six times.”
  Many are calling LSU the best team ever, because during the course of the season, the Tigers beat seven teams ranked in the Top Ten at the time they played. Five of those teams, Clemson, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Oklahoma,  finished in the top ten.
 Carolina’s began this year having to play the top three teams in the polls, Clemson, Alabama and Georgia, and I believed they finished the season with one of the toughest schedules in the country. That’s Carolina’s luck when on of their ”buy” games, Appalachian State, finished 13-1 and number 19 in the country.
  Don’t get too happy that this season is over, Gamecock fans. According to the final poll, next year Carolina will play No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Clemson. No. 4 Georgia, and No. 6 Florida. No, we’re not playing the top three next year. We’re playing four of the top six!

TOPPLING THE TOP

  In a matter of five days, Clemson and Carolina beat three of the most vaunted names in college basketball history.
  Clemson followed its first win ever over North Carolina in Chapel Hill last Saturday, with an upset over third ranked Duke at home on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Carolina upset 10th ranked Kentucky on a buzzer beater.
  I posted on Facebook and Twitter after Carolina won, “Clemson beat UNC and Duke, and Carolina just beat Kentucky. Do you hear the ice cracking in Hades.”
 Soon, my post was shared on Facebook by radio personality Jonathan Rush, who, of course, is a Saluda native.
  When I checked on Twitter, I saw my tweet have been retweeted by Hall of Fame wrestler Sgt. Slaughter! How about that!
  I had noticed on social media that Sgt. Slaughter was at the game. He was pictured with Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin.
  Speaking of the top, after Donnie Shell was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame, S.C. State released the following on social media, “S.C. State has more pro football Hall of Famers (4), than any other S.C. schools.”
  Well, I knew about Shell, Harry Carson and Deacon Jones, but I couldn’t think of the fourth, so naturally I looked it up.
  The fourth Hall of Famer was Marion Motley, who played in the 40s and 50s, and helped integrate the NFL. He played for the Brown and Steelers in his 13-year career.

TWO REDHEADS

 I was saddened at the passing two redheaded men last week.
  Sam Caughman taught at Saluda High School for 16 years. I would see him at Friday night home football games. He was one of the many faculty volunteers.
  Instead of a golf cart, he’d drive his little Chevy S-10 between ticket booths, and he always had something funny to say.
  Sam was also a talented graphic artist. He would make posters for each Carolina football game and emailed it to his Gamecock friends. I shared on Facebook the poster he made when Carolina’s baseball team won the National Championship in 2010.
  Many of Sam’s students shared on Facebook how much he meant to them.
  A few days after Sam died, another red haired educator, Red Jameson, died in Abbeville.
  Red was a Hall of Fame basketball coach at Abbeville High. The gym is named in his honor.
  I met him when my bother Jamie coached the girls basketball team at Ninety Six, and then I’d see him when Jamie coached the boys at Saluda.
    Like Sam, Red had a great sense of humor.
  How many lives did Sam and Red touch in their years as educators?
  Both will be greatly missed.