Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, October 24, 2019, 8:53 a.m.
Clemson football fans feel unduly pressured because, somehow, in spite of winning every game to date by an average of 28 points, the Tigers have recently dropped from No. 1 to 4 in the Football Bowl Subdivision rankings.
A narrow victory at North Carolina – the Tar Heels had a chance to win but failed on a late two-point conversion – set off the mild decline. The other three teams ranked in the top four – four is a crucial number in FBS since it is the number of playoff slots – have all won every game convincingly.
Clemson hasn’t lost and can’t afford to do so. Alabama, LSU and Ohio State are ahead of the Tigers, and all are undefeated, and so is Oklahoma, which looms fifth and “only” won by seven against Texas. The Crimson Tide and Tigers, LSU variety, must play each other.
The pressure to win – and not just win, but win big – is oppressive.
If the Tigers continue to win, they’ll be fine, but the fans bristle at the notion that the reigning national champions have fallen in the rankings without losing.
I sympathize. Running up the score is rewarded.
On the other hand, I’m confident Clemson fans would make the same contentions made on behalf of the other three teams were the roles reversed.
That’s the way fans are. It’s absolutely necessary to be fueled by both love and hate. The contentiousness is inherent in sports. Everyone must have some justification for complaint.
Just keep on winning, Tigers, and everything will be fine.
Upsets are much likelier in the National Football League.
For instance, how in the hell did the Dallas Cowboys lose to the New York Jets a while back?
It was an anomaly. If Ohio State, which defeated Northwestern, 52-3, last week, had lost to the Wildcats, it would have been roughly equivalent to the Jets beating the Cowboys.
In the pros, it happens every week, even though they’s supposed to be … pros.
I have no idea who is going to win the NASCAR Monster Cup championship. Denny Hamlin is being trumpeted as the likely champion again, and it’s because he happens to have won the most recent race in Kansas.
That’s the way it’s supposed to be. The format is designed for excitement at the expense of fairness.
In the final race, in Homestead, Fla., four drivers will have an equal chance at the championship. One might be a driver with far less on his result sheet than others.
Who’s most likely to pull off the far-fetched upset? Why, Kyle Larson, of course.
At least right now.
In a way, it’s all the same, whether it’s the Clemson Tigers, the New England Patriots or Denny Hamlin.
Just win, baby.
Finally, there’s the World Series, where the Washington Nationals lead the favored Houston Astros, 2-0, in the best-of-seven.
I’ve half-watched the two games, partly because inevitably I have work to do and partly because the Boston Red Sox did not make the postseason this year. I’m as interested in what the Red Sox do in the offseason as which team actually succeeds them as world champions.
I have no particular rooting interest. I’ve found myself tilting toward the Nats because, all else being equal, I usually find my sentiments drifting in the direction of the underdogs.
Monte Dutton photo
Wednesday was a busy day. Complications at home left me feeling behind all day with advance stories of local football games and editing releases and stories provided us at GoLaurens/GoClinton.
The assignments themselves are less enjoyable than the conversations they provide.
Yesterday, after taking photos, I found myself chatting with three Clinton High football players as the girls’ tennis team steamrolled Indian Land – I wonder if changing it to Indigenous Land has been contemplated – in the first round of the playoffs.
Today I’ve got a Touchdown Club meeting, an interview with a young drag racer, and a trivia contest at the county museum about which to monitor, photograph, and write. My drag race is going to be getting the obituaries and arrest report done in the gap between assignments. It might not be a bad idea to take my laptop with me to the TD Club and work on the story and the aforementioned daily work in a coffee shop on the Laurens square.
This week’s YouTube video contains songs performed 10 years ago by me and Kyle Petty.
Those were the days.
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