Clemson's the new hot topic, seeing as they just fired/resigned their head coach Tommy Bowden after a 3-3 start to a season that saw them ranked in the top ten in preseason polls. Many people have applauded this move, stating that with the kind of talent that Clemson has, his performance simply has not been good enough. Nine straight bowl eligible seasons and a 72-45 record in his time at Clemson.
My question is, what kind of talent do you really think Clemson has? Do people really think that Clemson has the kind of Talent to match up with major conference championship calibur teams?
Talent is really just a measure of potential. It does not always make a good player, but it does make a good draft pick. So recent draft picks is a good way of measuring what kind of talent a program has been working with in recent years.
Over the last four years, Clemson has had 13 players drafted. This puts them at Sixth in the ACC, behind Virginia Tech, Virginia, North Carolina State, Florida State, and Miami.
Let's look at some of the output of some of the perennial powerhouses. Oklahoma has had 24 players drafted in that same span. Texas has had 21. Michigan has had 19. Ohio State has had 23. USC has had 31. Florida has had 17. LSU has had 22.
What kind of teams have had a similar talent level over the last 4 years? Arkansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oregon, Stanford, and Louisville have all had 13 players drafted over the same span. Together, those 6 teams, in 24 attempts, have 1 conference championship between them. They are also a combined 22-16 this season, which basically averages out to 4-3. Also, with the exception of Oregon, all of these teams have stumbled recently with coaching changes. These are the talent peers of Clemson. This is no longer the 1980s.
Tommy Bowden was not a coach who was going to take Clemson to the BCS promised land. But I don't really think that was a place Clemson is capable of going to. He's pretty much a face value coach, give him a mediocre team, and you get mediocre results. But he was consistent. And in college football right now, consistency equals money. Those eight bowl appearances netted the ACC over a million dollars in prize money. With Tommy, you knew what you were getting. Now, Clemson has opted to roll the dice.
I don't like the move. Coaching changes after a successful season tend to faceplant. I would not be surprised if Clemson falls apart completely the next few seasons. Especially if they hire some retread coach, which, after the dismissal of Bowden, might be all they can get, as the hot names, like Bronco Mendenhal and Will Muschamp will be able to take their pick of the vacancies. Clemson's best bet, assuming that they can't get one of those two, might be an unorthodox one.
Gus Malzahn, the offensive coordinator of Tulsa. Orchestrator of the number 1 offense in college football, averaging 603 yards and 53 points per game. The first step to set the table for him is the benching of Cullen Harper, a senior, in favor of the more talented and less experienced freshman Willie Korn. Get him some experience. Also, do whatever it takes to keep CJ Spiller on campus. Those two, along with receiver Jacoby Ford, will provide the initial nucleus of a new offense Malzahn can build. Clemson has already decided to scrap this season. Don't be surprised if they drop out of bowl contention entirely, which would have been unlikely with Bowden. All Clemson can do beyond that, is pray.