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A Valentine's Wish For: Tommy Bowden and Terry Don Phillips

Some ancient wisdom on education, societal standards and the success of the individual:

Recruits, too, ought to feel good about who they are, in mind as well as body. Not that Tommy Bowden or President James Baker is talking by any means about lowering academic expectations for recruits at Clemson after the Tigers were forced to drop two prospects last week because of "academic concerns." Far from it; Bowden has always said, just like his diddy, and always will say, without hesitation, "School comes first, football second." God may also come before football, probably also family or whatever else there is. So, you know, understand first that football's way down the list of priorities. Definitely below school. It's just that, you know, there's a lot of competition out there for these kids - and again, we're not talking about lowering expectations here - but isn't there some way to level the playing field for talent against all those other glorified farm league teams?:

I have confidence that the university administration understands the importance of recruiting on a level playing field and that we will be able to recruit on a level playing field in the future," Bowden said.

Bowden and his staff were upset with the process that forced them to stop recruiting players who signed with competitors such as North Carolina, Notre Dame and Georgia last week.

Coaches informed receiver Dwight Jones of Burlington, N.C., last Tuesday they would have to pass on him.

Without knowig the specifics of the rejection, the "different perspectives" in this matter  - the ones not being thrown around by the unwashed partisans of talk radio, at least - actually seem to exist primarily within the athletic department, between coaches and athletic director Terry Don Phillips. The latter said the Athletic Advisory Review Committee responsible for denying admission to Jones and running back Jo Jo Cox had not received "timely information" from the football staff. Hence, "review," of indeterminate initiation, duration, method or possible conclusion, or of any substantial conclusion at all. At least all parties agree of its need.

Using the most sophisticated gauge available - the "Academic" rating on NCAA Football 2007's "Dynasty" mode - Clemson is a respectable four-star academic school, which corresponds well with most of the rest of the ACC and its main SEC recruiting rivals, South Carolina and Georgia, and is also maintains graduation rates well above the national average for football players while spending more than the ACC average per male athlete and per male recruit. The only conference team not on the Tigers' "field" in recruiting is Georgia Tech, which spends more than twice as much per male recruit than any other ACC school, and Clemson rocked the Jackets 31-7 last October before entering a disastrous five-game closing stretch (the fourth time in six years, by the way, Clemson has endured a stretch in which at lost at least three out of four games). Those dollar figures are virtually identical to those of Notre Dame.

But SMQ reminds Clemson this is something every program has to struggle with eventually. The Irish bear the same burden. Just like the entire Big Ten. Damn standards warped playing fields. What's really important is that you work it out together.

It seems they're off to a good start. Phillips, at least, understanding the often political nature of compromise in any lasting relationship, is keeping this momentary quarrel in perspective:

"This is not a competition between academics and athletics: It's between Clemson and all the institutions who are recruiting the same students."

You've got your just kiss and make up, already, you two.