Backup suspended for Clemson's bowl game
CLEMSON -- Clemson returned to practice Tuesday after a nine-day layoff with one notable player absent -- running back Mike Bellamy.
Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said following practice that Bellamy has been suspended for the Jan. 4 Orange Bowl and for the practices leading up to the game against West Virginia.
Bellamy, a highly regarded five-star prospect entering Clemson, was sent back to campus from Charlotte prior to the ACC title game earlier this month.
He was suspended indefinitely by Swinney, who said Bellamy had violated team rules.
Swinney said Bellamy has a chance to be reinstated next semester.
"He will not be at the bowl with us," Swinney said. "The expectation is he'll have an opportunity to come back in January, and if he does the right things, he'll have a chance to go through spring (practice). If he doesn't, he won't."
Bellamy is still on campus and is expected to complete fall semester courses next week.
He has blazing speed on the field, but has frustrated the coaching staff with his immaturity off the field in addition to his inability to grasp the playbook. Bellamy complained about playing time, struggled to be in the proper place at times on the field and has also had fumble issues.
Watkins expected to play
A Clemson official said the team expects star freshman receiver Sammy Watkins to be eligible for the Orange Bowl. Watkins' name appeared on a Christmas party flyer for a Florida restaurant, a violation of NCAA rules.
The NCAA prohibits student-athletes from endorsing or promoting off-campus businesses and events. Spokesperson Tim Bourret said the university's compliance office sent a cease-and-desist notice to the restaurant.
"We fully expect Sammy Watkins to play," Bourret said. "We asked them to take (the fliers) down, and they did. You wouldn't expect every restaurant in American to know it was a rules violation."
Marcus Price, a promoter involved with the ad, told Columbia TV station WLTX Watkins and the three other players gave him permission to use their names but that the players were not paid.
Orange Bowl tickets
Clemson has sold approximately half of its 17,500 ticket allotment for the Orange Bowl. Clemson has to purchase any remaining unsold tickets. Associate athletic director Katie Hill said since the game's kickoff is in the middle of the week and after the New Year's holiday, it might make tickets a tougher sell for some fans.
Clemson does not officially report to its team hotel for the Orange Bowl until Dec. 29, but Swinney said the team will arrive three days prior to check-in and hold three intense days of practices, what the Clemson coach dubbed a sort of "mini-camp." Swinney said most players will be on a team charter flight to Miami.