Lots of Clemson fans will root for Arkansas today.
Lots of South Carolina fans will root for Boston College today.
Despite their bitter differences, both overzealous groups savor Die Schadenfreude (German for deriving pleasure from others’ misfortune) that comes with their archrivals’ losses.
As the old saying goes:
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Hey, didn’t most Americans pull for the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq against Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran?
Then again, if Arkansas upsets USC today, that would lower the Tigers’ strength-of-schedule rating — and raise the odds against them playing for a national title. USC faces the same hazard if Boston College upsets Clemson.
Too bad so many orange- and garnet-clad folks fall out of logic’s bounds.
So to set a more rational — and harmonious — example, this Clemson grad offers this advice to Gamecock defensive end Jadeveon Clowney:
Just say no to playing college football again.
Clowney did say no to playing last Saturday night in USC’s lackluster, 35-28 victory over lowly Kentucky. His self-imposed exile to the sideline was the dominant story of — and beyond — that game.
USC coach Steve Spurrier vented postgame irritation over getting late notice from Clowney that he wouldn’t play due to aching ribs.
“The Old Ball Coach” said of his brightest young star: “He may not be able to play next week, I don’t know. But we’re not going to worry about it, I can assure you that.”
Spurrier further explained Sunday: “It was just we didn’t know he wasn’t playing until right before the game. That is always a little frustrating.”
Asked Sunday if Clowney was committed to the Gamecocks, Spurrier replied: “You will have to ask him that.”
By Tuesday, though, 1966 Heisman Trophy winner Spurrier and no-longer 2013 Heisman candidate Clowney were calling the same positive-spin “muscle strain” signals.
Spurrier: “He was in pain. It was diagnosed later, and obviously we all handled it poorly.”
Clowney: “Am I fully committed? Always.”
On Thursday night, Spurrier told his weekly radio show audience of the flap: “Please don’t listen to the national media people.”
But Clowney should listen to this in-state media person and play his next down in an NFL uniform.
This isn’t a trick play to keep Clowney from re-traumatizing Tajh Boyd at Williams-Brice Stadium on Nov. 30 — as he did with 4½ sacks in last season’s 27-17 USC victory at Death Valley, the Gamecocks’ fourth straight over Clemson.
This is about sparing Clowney, expected to start today at Arkansas, additional — and potentially very expensive — pain.
Sure, an early Clowney exit could throw Clemson’s No. 1 hopes for a loss. The best case for the Tigers to make the national final would be a 13-0 record that includes a triumph over a highly ranked USC with Clowney on the field.
However, we Clemson types should block out that collective motive and ponder the immense personal stakes for the gifted 20-year-old from Rock Hill.
Entering this season, the 6-foot-6 pass rusher extraordinaire was supposedly a lock as the top overall pick in next spring’s NFL draft.
And most experts now say that Clowney’s pro stock has slipped only slightly, if at all, due to this year’s subpar performance and the past week’s melodrama.
Look out for No. 1
Still, Clowney said Tuesday of his final USC season: “I could’ve sat out. I’m not looking to sit out. I’m not that type of guy. I’m here for the team.”
So was teammate Marcus Lattimore last season when he tore up his knee, diminishing his draft worth by millions.
Yes, USC could still win the national championship. But that’s quite unlikely for a team yielding 25.8 points per game.
Clowney expressed frustration of his own after being constantly double- and even triple-teamed in a 41-30 loss at Georgia on Sept. 7: “I just can’t do it by myself. You have to depend on the other guys up front, and I depend on the other guys up front.”
And young South Carolinians depend on old South Carolinians with instructive pasts to counsel them on their futures.
So regardless of rooting interests, here’s my game plan for Clowney’s best interests:
He should quit college football now.
And he should tell USC quarterback Connor Shaw, who’s been playing with pains of his own, to quit too.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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