And, then there was the ruckus Saturday at the Clemson/South Carolina game. Clemson’s coach, Tommy Bowden, while not using it as an outright excuse, does seem to suggest the brawl the night before contributed to the incident Saturday.
The incident would have been embarrassing enough for both schools and for college football, but it happened to come fewer than 24 hours after the astonishing Pacers-Pistons incident in Detroit, turning the Gamecocks and Tigers into a national poster for sportsmanship gone awry. Network newscasts aired the two incidents back-to-back Saturday night, and Clemson coach Tommy Bowden, while not exactly using it as an excuse, mentioned the NBA fight directly. “For 24 hours, they’ve watched that basketball fiasco on TV. That’s all they’ve watched,” he said. “On every major news [broadcast] that thing was covered, and they sat there and watched it and watched it and watched it.”
At least the schools have seen fit to levy more than token suspensions. Both schools have announced that they will decline bowl invitations as a result. This may not seem like much, but I think it sends a very clear signal to the players that this kind of behavior–whatever the circumstances–is completely unacceptable. Both teams have lost the right to play in what amounts to a reward game for a winning season. Both schools (and/or conferences) will miss out on extra revenue that would have been generated by a bowl game. And the players will not be able to practice in December, a month long extra stretch of extra practice time, which is an increasingly important component in successful college football programs.