Clemson Pulls ‘The Mother of All Clemsons’
By Jim Weber
Don’t be fooled by people telling you Clemson didn’t “pull a Clemson” against Florida State on Saturday night because the Tigers weren’t favored: This was The Mother of all Clemsons. The Clemson to end all Clemsons. Clemsongeddon, if you will.
Because while Tiger fans will tell you this loss was different, Saturday night’s 51-14 drubbing at the hands of Florida State that wasn’t even as close as the score indicates - if that’s even possible - is the very definition (informally, at least) of “pulling a Clemson”:
I personally consider “pulling a Clemson” to simply be losing in highly embarrassing fashion after getting people to believe the Tigers had changed.
And in terms of embarrassing losses, this was worse than the 70-33 beat down in the 2012 Orange Bowl, the 2004 loss to a one-win Duke team (considered by many as “The Godfather of “Clemsoning”) and the 2007 Georgia Tech loss for another Clemson team with national title dreams. Why? Because this year’s squad had said so many times since the Chick-fil-A Bowl win over LSU that this was a “new Clemson” and fooled so many people into believing it after the season-opening win over Georgia.
I worried at the time that the Tigers were just setting us all up for an epic failure and they did just that on Saturday night in the worst performance from a top five team at home that I can recall aside Michigan’s 2007 loss to FCS Appalachian State.
The defense was beaten to a pulp. Clemson’s offense turned the ball over four times, including a fumble on the first play of the game. Senior quarterback and leader Tajh Boyd played the worst game of his college career. Yes, the whole thing was like a bad horror movie.
Players and coaches come and go but the real ones tortured by “pulling a Clemson” are the fans that keep enduring the same pain and cheap jokes over and over. For all those Tiger fans for whom that phrase is like fingernails on a chalkboard, brace yourselves - because Saturday night’s loss will haunt you for years to come.
After college football fans and the media mistakenly bought into the “new Clemson” talk this fall, every time Clemson seems to have put the past behind it and finally turned over a new leaf, people will be quick to say, “Remember 2013?” At this point, it could take nothing short of playing in the four-team college football playoff or even winning a national title for people to actually believe the program has put “Clemsoning” behind it.
It might be awhile until the Tigers are even in that position again with Boyd graduating and wide receiver Sammy Watkins and offensive coordinator Chad Morris likely to leave in the offseason for greener pastures as well. But when that day comes, the most tortured fanbase in college football will have to endure all the jokes about its program again and keep their fingers crossed that this year, finally, will be different.
If history is any indication, it won’t be.
Top photo: Joshua S. Kelly/USA Today Sports; “Clemsoning” photo courtesy of @jenniferrivers