SAPAKOFF COLUMN: Bowl results mean little going forward
There is this theory buzzing around such disparate places as Clemson fan hangouts and the New York Garment District, a notion that impoverished people somewhere in the world are about to get a fresh shipment of lightly-used orange Orange Bowl gear.
Looking back, maybe banished Tigers defensive coordinator Kevin Steele should have notified his accountant that a seven-figure check was on the way.
Looking forward, the 70-33 "beaten to a pulp" treatment smells quite a bit like Clemson's 55-15 loss to Texas Tech in 2002. Which could be good news for 2012.
That forgettable bowl outing in 2002 occurred at the Tangerine Bowl, where West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen was an assistant coach on Mike Leach's Texas Tech staff.
The 2003 season would finish much sweeter for the Tigers, just one example of bowl results that forecast contradictory performances the following season.
First-year starting quarterback Tajh Boyd labeled No. 22 Clemson's recent Orange Bowl unpleasantness "embarrassing."
Charlie Whitehurst suffered through the embarrassing bowl loss to Texas Tech in 2002 as a first-year starter, but closed 2003 with a 63-17 rout of South Carolina and a Peach Bowl victory over Tennessee.
South Carolina 1994
The No. 9 Gamecocks of the 2011 final ranking are the fourth South Carolina team to defeat Clemson and win a bowl game in the same season. Each of the previous three failed to achieve a winning record the next year, including 4-6-1 in 1995 the season after a 24-21 Carquest Bowl victory by head coach Brad Scott (of all people) at (of all places) Miami over (of all programs) West Virginia.
South Carolina 2001
Very nice conquest of Ohio State in the Outback Bowl after the lone Lou Holtz victory over Clemson in six tries as South Carolina head coach.
The 2002 Gamecocks went 5-7.
South Carolina 2006
Steve Spurrier's second South Carolina team edged Clemson (31-28 at Death Valley) and Houston (44-36 in the Liberty Bowl), only to finish 6-6 in 2007.
Five straight losses translated into no bowl invitation.
Spurrier's undefeated Gators were trampled by Nebraska, losing 62-24 in a Fiesta Bowl that decided the national championship. Florida bounced back the next year to zoom by Florida State, 52-20, to win the Sugar Bowl and a national title.
Crimson Tide players heard about a 31-17 Sugar Bowl loss to the Utah Utes every day they prepared for a 2009 season that started with a rout of Clemson at the Georgia Dome and ended with a victory over Texas in the BCS National Championship Game.
Already, winter bowl results are thawing as football spring arrives early. National Signing Day is just around the corner.
The Gamecocks and Tigers are ranked high in early top 25 projections for 2012, but usually behind Georgia and Florida State within their own respective conference divisions. Meanwhile, through Cornhusker-colored glasses, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini said, "Even after the game, we all felt like we were the better team."
Then again, Pelini's team didn't surrender five touchdowns.
In the second quarter.
The on-site Orange Bowl analysis from ESPN expert Lou Holtz: "You try to stop everything and end up stopping nothing."
Strangely, Holtz probably said the same thing the night he suffered a 63-17 loss to Clemson the season after the Tigers' most lopsided bowl loss.
Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or on Twitter at @sapakoff.