Larry Williams of Tigerillustrated.com takes you inside the helmet and inside the press box (minus the free food) to deliver the stories behind the stories. No screaming. No hot takes. No picks. Just honest insight and informed conversation.
Former Clemson star Terrence Oglesby rejoins the podcast to share the latest on his climb up the media ladder. Oglesby is a basketball analyst for The Field of 68, a college basketball podcast network that has already gained significant profile. Oglesby also gives his take on what to expect this season of Brad Brownell and Clemson as the Tigers try to overcome the loss of Aamir Simms. He also discusses why he decided to go away from the coaching route, and the importance of being there for his family as his children grow up.
Former Tiger Billy Davis makes a return visit to the podcast to reflect on what it was like to reconnect with his 1981 teammates as Clemson celebrated the 40th anniversary of its national title under Danny Ford. Davis shares what it's like for that accomplishment to be relegated to an "oh by the way" category in the shadow of the recent titles under Dabo Swinney in 2016 and 2018. He also gives his take on the jolting struggles of the 2021 team, which has produced a 3-2 record and a plummet from the Top 5 to unranked. What criticisms are justified in Davis' eyes? Which ones are excessive? Davis, a longtime subscriber and message-board poster on Tigerillustrated.com, gives his thoughts on social-media fan culture and the treatment of 18- to 22-year-old athletes who aren't performing as well as expected.
Scott Hamilton, current sports-radio host in Charleston, started his newspaper career in 1998. In the 23 years since he has: Worked for several different newspapers, including as the sports columnist for the Winston-Salem Journal; Worked as the lead news anchor for a TV station in West Virginia; Worked as a TV talk-show host in Wilmington; Worked as a radio sports-talk host in Winston-Salem; Worked for Golfweek magazine; Worked for the Sports Business Journal; Worked for Sports Illustrated covering the Carolina Panthers; Worked in sales for a minor-league baseball team; Worked for Shatterbox in client acqusitions. And to think: He went to college to become a history teacher. Hamilton joins the podcast to talk about his wild ride, becoming close with Paul Finebaum, and what to make of Clemson's current struggles during its 2-2 start. He also picks Ole Miss and Lane Kiffin to pull off the upset Saturday at Alabama.
Mickey Plyler of WCCP-FM joins the podcast to share what it's like when so much criticism is coming from fans through the airwaves in the midst of Clemson's offense scoring a total of 17 points in two games against Georgia and Georgia Tech. What's fair criticism and what's over the top? What's the answer for this offense, and are things going to get markedly better in the near future? Joe Giglio visits to reflect on his transition from a long career in newspapers to a radio talk-show host for WRAL. Giglio attended N.C. State and covered the Wolfpack for decades. He gives his take on Dave Doeren, who since taking over in 2013 has just one victory over a team that finished in the Top 25. Have the fans soured on him? Do they even care enough to run him out of town? Do the Wolfpack have the juice to knock off Clemson? Is this really Doeren's best team when State couldn't come close to beating Mississippi State a couple weeks ago? And what's the reaction in Raleigh to Will Shipley, who has all sorts of family ties to the Wolfpack, going to Clemson and becoming an instant sensation as a playmaker for the Tigers?
Andy Staples and Cole Cubelic join the podcast to give their takes on the state of Clemson football after the Tigers' 10-3 loss to Georgia last week. Does Dabo Swinney need to adapt to keep up with the Bulldogs, Alabama and Ohio State? And what of an offensive line that was overwhelmed in the opener? Will Clemson be good enough to get into the College Football Playoff for a seventh consecutive season? Brett McMurphy visits to chart his visionary course through various mediums over the course of his career -- from newspapers to web sites, to ESPN and now to The Action Network. McMurphy was the center of one of the most remarkable stories in media history after he was laid off by ESPN. As he continued to collect bi-weekly checks from the network, he got around a non-compete clause by merely posting his scoops on Facebook -- major scoops that ESPN then had to chase.
Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution remembers being intimidated at sharing press boxes with the likes of Lewis Grizzard, Furman Bisher, Dave Kindred and numerous other giants of the sportswriting industry. Bradley gradually developed a style all his own and is known as one of the best of his craft in sports column writing -- especially when facing murderous deadlines. What was it like to sit next to Grizzard and his old-school typewriter in a press box? What was it like doing a story on the holder for Kevin Butler's 60-yard field goal that beat Clemson in 1984? What's it like being told by Hawks coach Mike Fratello that he's done with you, that "you stabbed me in the heart?" What was it like, seven years ago, hearing that Steve Spurrier waged figurative war on him after Bradley wrote (accurately, as it turned out) that Spurrier might not last much longer at South Carolina? What's it like dealing with the vast modern-day restrictions on media access that make it much more difficult to develop relationships with the people you cover? Bradley is a trove of entertaining anecdotes from his decades spent telling the world what he thinks. He also gives his take on what he think will happen in Saturday night's mammoth showdown between Clemson and Georgia.
Clemson's first brewery has been a long time coming, and a long time working for the two co-owners who continue to juggle demanding full-time jobs in addition to getting Kite Hill Brewing Company off the ground after opening their doors in early July. The Clemson Dubcast goes on-site to interview the key players, including master brewer Mike Fuller. An avid Clemson fan and longtime Tigerillustrated.com subscriber, Fuller spent time out west and then the better part of nine years in Asheville. As he worked his way up the brewing ranks, he had a dream to return to Clemson and give the city its first brewery. Last December he answered an ad posted by co-owners Bobby Congdon and Bryon Leggett. Congdon is the assistant director of Clemson's Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics. He's also married with two children. "I'm making it work now, working through some annual leave," Congdon said. "And I have a forgiving boss that likes beer. So that helps." Leggett has a background in chemical engineering and works in business development for a Wisconsin-based contract manufacturer, a job that consumes 50 hours a week by itself. He said he's worked 90 to 100 hours a week the last few months. He's married with a 9-month-old infant at home. Leggett and Congdon met as students while working for Clemson's student radio station. They both graduated in 1998. "Our vision is to have a community gathering space with something for everybody," Leggett said. "So it's not just about the beer." Congdon started home-brewing in 2005 inside an apartment not far from Kite Hill's present location in Patrick Square. "By the third batch we started talking about how cool it would be to open a brewery in Clemson," Congdon said. "That persisted for years and years, but common sense said 'Don't do that. That's insane.' But about four years ago I sent an e-mail to Bryon. I had been drinking beer, and I got the idea: 'We should actually do this!'"
David Paschall has covered Georgia football for decades at the Chattanooga Times-Free Press. He joins the podcast to reflect on just how much sports media has changed over the years, and the media's own role in a demise that includes dramatically reduced access to the teams and players they cover. Paschall also gives his take on the mammoth Sept. 4 matchup in Charlotte between Clemson and Georgia. He remembers traveling to Death Valley in 2003 and watching the Bulldogs romp 30-0. A lot has changed since, with the Tigers now one of the supreme beings in college football and Georgia trying to ascend to the perch Clemson has enjoyed. Dayne Young works for Rivals site UGASports.com and the PR department for Georgia's school of journalism. Young once worked as a TV sports anchor but got out of the business when he realized how few people watch the evening newscasts anymore. He adapted to new ideas and now is a major part of his site's expanded digital presence, which includes regular video podcasts with former Georgia coach Jim Donnan. Young reacts to the latest wave of attrition that has affected the Bulldogs with Darnell Washington and Tykee Smith having undergone surgery. He has some doubts about JT Daniels' ability to guide Georgia's injury-addled offense to enough points to win the showdown in Charlotte, but he thinks the Bulldogs' defensive front might be the most talented and deepest in the country.
Former Clemson University president Jim Barker joins the podcast to share what he's been up to since leaving the high-pressure world of running a university. Barker had a fascinating window into Dabo Swinney long before many other people thought the coach had what it took to run a successful football program, let alone a perennially dominant one. Barker still teaches a course at Clemson called "The Architecture of Leadership," and Swinney's name comes up often in the class' conversations about great leaders. Barker, who was one of the main architects of NCAA reform years ago, acknowledges that those reforms failed and says the system is broken. Barker was a key figure in the ACC's courting of Notre Dame before the Irish joined the conference as a part-time member. As the ACC and everyone else grapples with the recent seismic development of Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC, Barker said he hopes the ACC is thinking boldly and not conventionally. "I'm amazed that we don't use these moments in time to open up possibilities that are not just baby steps, but huge steps," he said.
Christopher Lambert, also known as The Dude of WV on social media, became a phenomenon a decade ago during the last realignment craze in college athletics. An avid fan of West Virginia who's not in the media business, Lambert caused a stir when he began producing news items from conversations he was having with influential people. Lambert basically learned some journalism on the fly, realizing that sometimes people were giving him information to advance their own interests and it resulted in some mistakes in his reporting. Now that realignment is back on the front burner with Texas and Oklahoma headed to the SEC, The Dude is back in action as he tries to develop informed opinion on what will happen next and whether West Virginia will be safe. For the record, The Dude believes the Mountaineers will end up in a conference they probably should have been a part of all along: The ACC, which is looking to solidify its future in a volatile, cutthroat world of big-time college athletics.
Martin Jenkins was a part of a class-action lawsuit that sued the NCAA and led to the recent harsh rebuke of the NCAA's model by two Supreme Court justices. Jenkins joins the podcast to reflect on what it all means and where college athletics could be headed with athletes now able to profit from their names, images and likenesses and, perhaps in the future, getting an actual cut of the monstrous revenues college football generates. When Jenkins played at Clemson from 2010 to 2014, NCAA rules limited schools from providing more than one meal per day to athletes. Now players at Clemson and elsewhere eat three meals a day at lavish dining facilities in addition to getting checks for cost of attendance. For Jenkins, the wheels for joining the lawsuit were set in motion after he wrote the song "We Too Deep" and was told NCAA rules prohibited him from capitalizing on the popularity of it (it has become a staple at Clemson home football games, and the official YouTube video Jenkins created currently has more than 6.5 million views). Jenkins also reflects on his deep level of love and admiration for Dabo Swinney. The two might have some philosophical differences on the topic of compensating college athletes, but he said it's never gotten in the way of their relationship. Jenkins, who lives in Atlanta and works in the insurance industry, is a regular at Clemson football games and marvels at how far Swinney has taken a program that hadn't won 10 games in two decades when Jenkins began playing for the Tigers.
Five Clemson assistant coaches sit down for in-depth discussions on their position groups. Earlier this week, Dabo Swinney opened up his football operations building to the media and allowed his coaches to spend hours mingling with those who cover Clemson on a regular basis. Streeter is quarterbacks coach for the Tigers. Grisham coaches receivers. Caldwell oversees offensive line, Conn safeties and Bates defensive tackles. Clemson begins preseason camp on Aug. 6.
Andrew Miller, 57, has been at The Post and Courier of Charleston for decades. Because of pandemic-related budget cuts, Miller had to move from his love of sports to the business section where he's had to start from scratch in some ways as a reporter. Miller goes back a long way to the days of Tommy West and Tommy Bowden, and he's full of stories from his time covering Clemson on a full-time basis. In the summer of 2003 at Bowden's media golf outing, Miller was planning to be in the featured group with the head coach. He was irritated when sports information director Tim Bourret asked him for a huge favor: "Can you play not with Tommy but with our new receivers coach instead?" That coach was Dabo Swinney. "I didn't get in five words the entire round," Miller said of getting to know the man who'd be the Tigers' head coach five years later. Miller reflects on how the changing nature of media access has made it harder for reporters to develop relationships with the people they cover. He also looks back to close, personal relationships he's had with various figures including Bowden, Reggie Herring, Willie Simmons, Monte Lee and others.
Josh Needelman joins the podcast to discuss why he chose to leave his job as Clemson beat reporter for The Post and Courier after a two-year stint in the Upstate. Josh is from New York, and a year of being away from his family because of the pandemic reinforced to him the importance of being close to loved ones -- particularly his twin brother Scott, who is autistic and nonverbal. Having joined the Clemson beat after covering UVA, Josh saw in full color the immensity of big-time college football -- and the always entertaining, sometimes controversial Dabo Swinney. Josh gives his thoughts on how Swinney is portrayed in the national media and also shares his philosophy on how much or how little time is necessary to spend on social media when you're trying to cover a team and establish a brand.
The story of Justin Foster's past year has been well chronicled: a year ago he tested positive for COVID and then dealt with complications that left him not remotely fit to play football for Clemson during the 2020 season. Foster announced he was giving up football after the season, but then a vaccine shot markedly improved his COVID long-hauler symptoms. And then visits to doctors at Duke University gave him renewed confidence that he could safely return to playing football. In May he announced his return, and now he's in Clemson preparing for the 2021 season. Justin's mother, Teresa Padgett, joins the podcast to reflect on what this has all been like for her.
Clemson radio personality William Qualkinbush joins the show to talk the swirl of change in college athletics, most notably the move to Name, Image and Likeness. Qualkinbush's views on NIL have evolved as he learns more about what the new landscape might look like, but he's firmly against a pay-for-play model that some say is a virtual certainty after the Supreme Court's scathing rebuke of the NCAA earlier this week. Qualkinbush also talks about his career, which often brings a logjam of responsibilities including radio play-by-play for Clemson sports in addition to 15 hours a week on his WCCP-FM radio show that runs from noon to 3.
Joe Person has spent a long time covering the Carolina Panthers, and before that he spent a long time covering South Carolina football. Person has vast experience dealing with powerful personalities including Cam Newton, Steve Spurrier and Lou Holtz. Person shares what it was like to break out of his comfort zone by moving from college football to the NFL, how he goes about doing his job amid a changing media landscape that includes competition with the team he covers, and what he learned from the late Rick Bonnell who recently passed away unexpectedly. Person had some unforgettable experiences covering Spurrier, including regular 7 AM phone calls from the Gamecocks coach when he didn't like something Person wrote for The State newspaper. Person was present at Death Valley for the infamous 2004 brawl between the Gamecocks and Tigers in Holtz's final college game.
It's been quite a ride for Bob Thomas over the last 15 years. A longtime newspaper guy and distinguished chronicler of Florida State football during the Bobby Bowden dynasty, Thomas was laid off by the Florida Times-Union in 2008. He then took a job with Florida State as the head sports information director for football and found himself navigating the tumult of 2009 when FSU's administration told Bowden it was time to go. When Jimbo Fisher arrived, the coach had other ideas about the football team's communications and Thomas was pushed to a different department. Just a year ago, Thomas found himself a victim of pandemic-related job cuts within FSU's athletics department. He's now adjusting to his new job as media specialist for FSU's College of Medicine. Thomas is a trove of knowledge and stories about FSU's incredible run under Bowden, and he explores the similarities of that era with the current Clemson-dominated ACC world. Thomas also gives his thoughts on how long it'll be before the Seminoles can contend with the Clemson monster.
Brett Jensen, formerly a Clemson beat reporter and currently a news reporter for Charlotte radio station WBT, gives his perspective on his tense exchange with North Carolina governor Roy Cooper this week. Jensen, who said his station has not been called on to ask a question over the last 14 months at routine press briefings from the governor and his staffers, said other outlets are also being frozen out. Jensen reflects on the need for accountability from all public officials regardless of political affiliation, and then draws parallels to his former profession as a scrutinizer of highly-paid football and basketball coaches. Another topic covered is how media access has changed overall over the years, both in sports and in general news.
Former Georgia and NFL punter Drew Butler joins the podcast to talk Clemson-Georgia, and also his role in helping college athletes navigate the coming age of Name, Image and Likeness. Butler works for Icon Source, which connects both pro and college athletes to businesses that are interested in sponsoring them. Butler is also the creator and host of Punt And Pass podcast, which he co-hosts with former Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray. When he was with the Arizona Cardinals, Butler became good friends with former Tiger Chandler Catanzaro and said Catanzaro helped give him a deep appreciation for what Dabo Swinney has built at Clemson.
On the weekend of Dabo Swinney's All-In Ball, Brian Boone and Clay Lowder join the podcast to talk philanthropy and helping others. In late December, Lowder decided he was going to fully fund a trip to the Sugar Bowl for a Clemson family that had gone through struggle. He sent the family of Ken Kelly, who spent the previous year battling liver cancer and COVID. Months later, Boone was similarly inspired when he decided to give up his six-seat table at the All-In Ball to a Clemson family who would be positively impacted from the experience. Saturday night, Joey Millwood and his family will attend the All-In Ball, listen to guest speaker Jon Gruden, and receive a full tour of the Reeves Center. Joey and his wife Erin lost their 10-year-old daughter Eliza Cait to leukemia in 2018. They began a ministry in her honor, Bright Light Dance Ministry, to send dancers across the world to spread the gospel because Eliza Cait loved Jesus and loved to dance. Boone lost his wife, Kathy Boone, in May of 2018. Five months earlier, Clemson's football staff opened its doors and its hearts to the Boone family in a story documented by Tigerillustrated.com. Boone and Lowder reflect on how much giving to others can help not only the recipient but the person giving.
Jacksonville radio personality and longtime college football writer Matt Hayes joins the podcast to give a sense of what it's like in Jaguars Land in response to Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne joining the franchise. Hayes said the locals are giddy over not just what Lawrence can do on the field, but the leader he promises to be in the community. Hayes recently recently interviewed Stanford coach David Shaw, who said Lawrence is going to be one of the NFL greats. Also, Hayes reflects on a media climate that creates hysteria over someone such as Lawrence merely mentioning that there's more to his life than football. Hayes also shares his take on the college football hierarchy. Despite Georgia's presence, and despite Ohio State's romp over Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, Hayes says: "I think it's still an Alabama and Clemson world."
Kyle Young, associate AD for administration at Clemson, joins The Dubcast to reflect on the remarkable coaching job by men's soccer coach Mike Noonan over the past year. Noonan and the Tigers withstood major attrition from last year's team and are a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Young also explores the Academic Common Market and provides insight on how it affects Clemson's baseball and soccer teams. In February of 2008, Young was working for Terry Don Phillips when receivers coach Dabo Swinney asked for Phillips advice on pursing the head-coaching job at South Alabama. Swinney was a finalist for the job. "I remember talking to Terry Don at that time," Young recalled. "Terry Don said to me: 'I just told him he didn't need to take that job.' That was Terry Don telling me he saw bigger and better things for Dabo." Less than a year later, Swinney was Clemson's head coach.
Cole Cubelic of ESPN joins the podcast to give his reflections of Georgia after spending last weekend in Athens covering the Bulldogs' spring game. Cubelic says Kirby Smart's team is among the more physically imposing he can recall in recent college football history, and he raves about JT Daniels' progress and presence as Georgia's quarterback. Pete Yanity, who covered the Danny Ford era as a young TV reporter in Florence, gives his memories of those days after reading some of the Tigerillustrated.com series on Ford's Clemson tenure, and compares those glory days to the current run of brilliance under Dabo Swinney.
Former Clemson Tiger Billy Davis rejoins the podcast to reflect on the ongoing Tigerillustated.com series on the Danny Ford era at Clemson. Even for someone who was present for much of that era, Davis finds his own eyes opened by all the tumult that occurred during the 1980s -- from probation, to the revelations of steroid use, to regular clashes between Ford and his administration. Davis, whose long punt return in the 1981 Orange Bowl helped set up a score that gave Clemson breathing room in a championship victory over Nebraska, looks back on those days and views all the baggage as yet another affirmation of Dabo Swinney's greatness. One of Davis' daughters is a freshman swimmer at Kentucky, and he goes into deep reflections on parenting a child in athletics through elementary school, middle school and beyond. Last fall, as Kentucky's swimming team was preparing for a crucial meet against Tennessee, Dabo Swinney spent 45 minutes on a Zoom call with the Wildcats' team. This was the week of Clemson's game against Boston College, and the week the Tigers lost Trevor Lawrence to a positive COVID test. Davis is an avid reader of Tigerillustrated.com and a regular poster on the WEZ message board.
Former Clemson basketball player John Newman discusses the reasoning behind his transfer from the Tigers' program, and his decision to join UNC Greensboro. Newman also gives his perspective on the growing anguish and alarm over the proliferation of transfers in college athletics.
George Sluppick, professional drummer, has played with such acts as Albert King, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, JJ Grey and Mofro, Luther Dickinson, Robert Walter, Charlie Hunter, Melvin Sparks and numerous other music luminaries. Sluppick joins the podcast to talk life on the road, including several visits to Clemson when Mofro played a popular music venue called The Joint. He shares details on the tumultuous, volatile nature of life on the road with Chris Robinson and what he learned from that experience. He also recalls as a 19-year-old playing for Albert King and regularly being cussed out on stage by the legendary bluesman. Musicians everywhere have had their worlds rocked by the pandemic over the past year, and Sluppick shares how he's adapted to continue making a living doing what he loves. Sluppick is a widely respected soul/funk drummer known for honoring the song and providing a thick, groovy backbone. Noted music critic Ben Ratliff once wrote: “George Sluppick puts a lot of funk into a medium tempo, and recalls the kings of heavy foot: musicians like John Bonham and Gregg Errico from Sly and the Family Stone, who drove their bass-drum beats into your spine.” George and his Memphis-based organ trio, The City Champs, recently released their third album: "Luna 68."
Jonathan Gantt, Clemson's associate AD for creative solutions, joins the podcast to reflect on what the last year has been like for Clemson's social-media presence as well as for the athletics department as a whole. "There was a time over the summer when it looked like football wasn't going to happen, and we were looking at each other and saying: 'Are we going to have jobs next week?'" Gantt said. Gantt was a major part of Clemson's burgeoning, pioneering social-media presence in 2014 and beyond as the Tigers' exquisite, unique branding dovetailed with their rise to sustained prominence on the football field. Gantt gives insight into how much trends have changed in digital branding, and how Clemson has pivoted in reaction to those changes. When you have set the standard for social-media presentation, how do you remain cutting-edge and innovative when everyone else is mimicking your innovations so much that they are commonplace? Also: What is the era of Name, Image and Likeness going to look like with athletes -- not just the ones from the high-profile sports, but also ones from non-revenue sports -- allowed to monetize their brands? Gantt is playing a key role in Clemson's preparations for NIL, and he says the athletics department is well positioned to be at the forefront of whatever the landscape looks like.
Chip Towers has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for the better part of 25 years for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Chip joins the podcast to talk his relationship with Kirby Smart (or lack thereof), Smart's strict controls on media access (early in his tenure Smart blocked Chip's attempts to interview Bulldog signees when they were still in high school), and why the Bulldogs haven't yet risen to the level of perennial championship contender under Smart. Chip also gives his thoughts on the recent allegations by Valdosta high school coach Rush Propst. And finally, he recounts the bizarre story of Cade Mays' father losing his pinky finger while accompanying his son on a recruiting visit to Athens -- and then using that episode as the reason for Mays' abrupt transfer to Tennessee.
Former Clemson defensive end Justin Foster goes in-depth on his decision to give up football, and what it was like trying to battle back amid the effects of COVID-19. Foster had dealt with asthma and allergies his whole life, and COVID exacerbated those conditions while leaving him with a long list of complications including shortness of breath, vocal-cord disfunction, and difficulty swallowing. Foster, who graduated in December with a degree in Construction Science and Management, is looking forward to starting a career in small business and using his mechanical mind. From an early age, Foster loved learning how things worked by taking apart lawnmowers and car engines and putting them back together. He tells stories of fixing the cars of assorted Clemson teammates, including Jackson Carman when Carman was stranded near Atlanta after his engine seized up.
Former Clemson player and staffer Xavier Brewer joins the podcast to talk his new role as cornerbacks coach at Louisiana-Monroe under Terry Bowden. Bowden hired several former Clemson staffers including Zac Alley, Maverick Morris, Roderick McDowell, and a blast from the past in defensive line coach Ron "Big Daddy" West. In addition, former Clemson offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez is running the offense for Bowden. Brewer reflects on his recruitment to Clemson, and a revelation Dabo Swinney shared with him only a couple years ago: When Brewer called to commit to Clemson, there was strong disagreement between Swinney (who offered Brewer) and the defensive staff led by Vic Koenning. The defensive staff wanted to rescind the offer for another player. Tommy Bowden ended up ruling in Swinney's favor, and Clemson accepted the commitment. Brewer ended up starting 34 career game and playing in 53. Brewer shares the life lessons he learned after going through a tumultuous and unforgettable summer of 2020 with Clemson's football program, and how hard it was for a team to go through a season filled with COVID protocols and disruptions to the normal way of life. Brewer's job on Clemson's staff was advance scouting of opponents, and he shares his thoughts on Ohio State's 49-point barrage in the Sugar Bowl and how it happened. Brewer also reflects on what it's like to coach defense in the days of supersonic offenses flush with elite talent and rules that favor moving the ball and scoring points.
Paul Strelow, one of the foremost recruiting analysts and reporters in the country, sits down to share what it's like to cover recruiting while raising a family and taking part in his children's many activities. Paul also shares his thoughts on the extension of the recruiting dead period, his gut feeling on whether Ty Simpson will choose Alabama or Clemson, and the general perception of Dabo Swinney as Clemson's program has risen to perennial juggernaut status. Also: What is college football going to look like in the age of athletes profiting off their name, image and likeness?
For more than 16 years, Yusef Kelly has been known largely for a moment -- a moment that occurred when he was in college, and before he knew better. Kelly, who is now a police officer in Easley and married with two kids, reflects on his part in the infamous 2004 brawl between Clemson and South Carolina. A perfect storm of events and timing led to a picture of him serving as the face of an ugly moment in time, but in the end Kelly was just a typical college kid whose missteps were magnified in an atypical way. Kelly said the brawl wasn't viewed as a big deal among the participants in the immediate aftermath: He was among a large group of Tigers and Gamecocks players who went out that night in downtown Clemson and had a good time.
Former Clemson defensive lineman DeShawn Williams joins the podcast to share misgivings that he, DeAndre Hopkins, Shaq Lawson and Jarvis Jenkins have about not being properly recognized by their high school alma mater, Daniel High. All four are in the NFL, an almost astounding achievement for players from one high school during the same time period. Daniel has policies for its Hall of Fame inductions and doesn't typically retire jerseys, but Williams said he and his three former teammates strongly believe something more can be done to honor their achievements. Williams also shares personal details of how hard it has been to go through the emotional rollercoaster of being cut by NFL teams time and again. When he spent a year away from football awaiting calls from teams, he worked as an Amazon delivery driver in Denver and he believes that was a big part of his ascent to a starting role for the Broncos this past season.
Mickey Plyler of WCCP joins the podcast to reflect on the mess at Tennessee, and how close Tony Elliott came to saying yes to the Volunteers. We also discuss the rapidly changing landscape of college football and how well Clemson is positioned to adjusting to the realities of increased player mobility. Will it make more sense for college coaches to jump to the NFL where they won't have to spend all year recruiting not just prospective players but their own players?
Terrence Oglesby gave up coaching and is now pouring everything he has into his dream of becoming a national TV color basketball analyst. He started from scratch and taught himself how to produce his own weekly video show. He came up with his own ACC Basketball preview magazine last summer. And he's honing his chops on radio and TV broadcasts of basketball games, including some recent Clemson games. Basically, he's grinding away just like he did when he was a cold-blooded shooter in high school and then for Clemson's high-achieving basketball teams under Oliver Purnell before he went overseas to play professionally. Oglesby lives in Clemson with his wife and two children. He recounts some vivid stories of the Purnell days, including some of the huge wins, the NCAA Tournament flameouts, and Purnell's abrupt departure for DePaul. Oglesby, now 33, also recalls Purnell hanging up the phone on him when he told his coach he was turning pro early. They didn't talk again until 10 years later.
Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com joins the podcast to talk a wide array of topics: -- Why he voted Clemson No. 1 in his Way Too Early Top 25 for 2021. -- How much of an accomplishment it was for college football to reach the finish line in a pandemic. -- His take on the recent craziness at South Carolina, Auburn and Tennessee. -- His take on why some national voices are calling Dabo Swinney one of the most polarizing figures in the sport. -- Growing up near South Bend as a die-hard Notre Dame fan, then moving to Atlanta when the Georgia Bulldogs were in their heyday. -- As a rookie writer for the student newspaper at the University of Georgia, writing an opinion column saying the basketball coach needed to be fired. And then being summoned to Hugh Durham's office to be told by the coach: "You don't know (excrement)." -- As an 18-year-old, being hired at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to cover the Bulldogs. -- His recollections of the early days following Widespread Panic, the Athens-based band that would go on to become one of the most successful touring acts in the industry.
Filmmaker Dustin Laemmlen was behind DJ Uiagalelei's splendid commitment announcement video in May of 2019. Laemmlen also happens to be DJ's cousin, giving him rare access to the superstar as he became one of the most sought-after prospects in the country. Laemmlen's production company recently produced "Into the Spotlight," a documentary on DJ's senior year at St. John Bosco High School. Laemmlen shares stories about DJ's childhood, and goes into how the commitment video took shape -- and how they kept DJ's commitment a secret despite it happening in the middle of the Death Valley football field the day before the spring game (DJ announced his commitment a month later, on his mother's birthday). Steven Lo, the offensive coordinator at Bosco, remembers when DJ broke the coach's hand when the two were going through a routine throwing drill during DJ's junior year. When Lo came from the Bay Area to interview for Bosco's vacant offensive coordinator position, DJ was the first player he met. And the hour-long conversation left a lasting impression.
Meet Dave Coggin, who calls himself "Clemson's secret weapon on the West Coast." Coggin's story is remarkable in itself, as he signed with Clemson in 1995 and planned to be a two-sport star for Tommy West and Jack Leggett before he was drafted in the first round by the Phillies and made the gut-wrenching decision to go the professional route. Coggin always wanted to make up for leaving Clemson hanging, and then he met a sixth-grader named DJ Uiagalelei. Coggin shares more about his work with DJ in Upland, Calif., and his role in DJ taking an early liking to the team in orange and purple on the other side of the country. Pete Thamel of Yahoo has distinguished himself not only for being on top of college football breaking news, but for using his relationships with coaches to get excellent insight into big-stage playoff matchups. Thamel also shares more about the reporting that went into this week's article on Clemson's alleged sign stealing under Brent Venables. "It's really the ultimate compliment that so many teams including Ohio State are so bothered by it," Thamel said, "because it's abundantly clear that Clemson is totally in their heads."
Tonya McElrathbey, mother of Ray Ray and Fahmarr McElrathbey, joins The Dubcast to reflect on the wild ride that led to her sons' celebrity -- and her sobriety. Disney has produced a movie based on Ray Ray's decision to take custody of his younger brother in 2006 when Ray Ray was a member of Clemson's football team. This quickly became a national story. Oprah Winfrey traveled to Clemson. The NCAA even waived its rule against extra benefits to allow for the establishment of a trust fund for Ray Ray and Fahmarr (it generated $100,000). On the other side of that uplifting story is Tonya's story of drug addiction. Tonya said she didn't learn until years later how much her depression contributed to her yearning for drugs, and she says she has been sober for three years and has a full-time job. Tonya and her children remain close: She, Ray Ray and his 7-year-old son recently watched a director's cut of the movie. "It was crazy," she said. "We laughed. And we cried. We would just hit pause and try to soak it in. It was emotional." The movie "Safety" is scheduled for release Friday.
Matt Connolly recalls the long drive to Tallahassee -- and then the long drive back the next day after the Clemson-FSU game was cancelled. Connolly shares what it was like to go through that surreal experience, and gives his opinion on the torrent of media criticism toward Dabo Swinney over the next week. Connolly also shares what he learned recently in reporting a profile of Billy Napier, the former Clemson assistant who now appears to be a strong candidate at South Carolina. Connolly spoke with Tommy Bowden for the article, and Bowden gave Napier glowing reviews. Norm Wood, who covers Virginia Tech for the Daily Press of Newport News, gives his take on whether Justin Fuente will get fired after this season. He also delves into the sentiment in Blacksburg about Shane Beamer, and just how much push there is for the Hokies to make a pre-emptive move to bring Beamer home before South Carolina can get him.
David Hale of ESPN.com shares behind-the-scenes details on how he and Andrea Adelson conceived and executed an extraordinarily in-depth article on Florida State's free-fall from the top of the college football world over the last seven years. Hale and Adelson began reporting on the story a year ago and spoke with more than 50 sources to present the most authoritative account yet on what led Jimbo Fisher to Texas A&M, and why Willie Taggart's short tenure was such a mess. Hale and Adelson also highlight the dichotomy between FSU and Clemson over the years in the realm of spending for facilities and coaches, dating to 2013 when Fisher sensed the Tigers were taking their football commitment to a higher level with Dabo Swinney leading the program. Corey Clark of Warchant.com joins the podcast to discuss the state of affairs in Mike Norvell's first season. Are the Seminoles even interested in playing Saturday against Clemson? How are fans processing yet another debacle of a season? Are they blaming Norvell or is there a grace period in the wake of all the craziness that preceded him and the noxious culture he inherited? And what's it like to cover this wreck for a living?
Former Clemson basketball great Terrell McIntyre reflects on what called him to return to Clemson to help current basketball players find their way and prepare for life after basketball. McIntyre also details a remarkable life story of growing up early, helping raise his younger brother when he was in elementary school, and dealing with the devastation of losing his stepfather when he was a senior in high school. Terrell's mother gave birth to him when she was 15, but she was the rock in his life and always had high standards for him. McIntyre remembers being in Clemson not very long as a freshman and deciding he was quitting the team. After he arrived home in Raeford, N.C., his mother told him: "Go ahead and get to bed. At 7:30 tomorrow morning you're going to be on the road back to Clemson." McIntyre also shares stories of how Larry Shyatt and Rick Barnes recruited him to Clemson and secured his signing without him having ever stepped foot onto campus. He recalls the hurt feelings that came when Barnes left for Texas, and the despair he felt when the NBA Draft came and went without his name being called. McIntyre had an illustrious 12-year basketball career in Europe before returning to Clemson to complete his degree in 2015.
The reason legendary Clemson sports information director Tim Bourret ended up at Clemson in the first place was because Al Adams got a wild idea to start a Clemson-themed newsletter. Adams, a Clemson grad, was working for Bob Bradley in the sports-information office when he stumbled on an idea. Why not capitalize on the growing fervor for Clemson football in the late 1970s by producing a weekly newspaper? Thus the Orange and White was born, and thus Bradley brought in a young Bourret from Notre Dame to replace Adams. Adams, who for years has been a fixture as the press-box PA announcer at Memorial Stadium, tells some great stories about the old days -- including when Danny Ford flipped out on him for reporting something he didn't want out during the 1980 season. Adams' sidekick at the Orange and White, Steve Ellis, went on to cover most of Bobby Bowden's tenure at Florida State for The Tallahassee Democrat newspaper.
Former Clemson linebacker J.D. Davis, son of Clemson legend Jeff Davis, reflects on the impact of the PAW Journey on his life and the lives of many other Clemson football players. When Jeff Davis worked in the football office under Tommy Bowden while also doubling as a fundraiser for IPTAY, he could only dream of what has unfolded as PAW Journey has become a pioneer in preparing athletes for life after football. One of Swinney's first decisions upon getting the head-coaching job was putting Jeff Davis in full charge of preparing his players for the real world. J.D. recalls the day in 2003 when he first met Swinney. The Swinney family was building a house next door to the Davises, and in walked Will and Drew Swinney. "We've been best friends ever since," J.D. says. J.D., who closed his football career by helping Clemson win the 2018 national championship, now works for Adobe. An internship with Adobe while he was at Clemson was vital in his securing of a full-time job with the multinational computer software company.
Brette Simmons is a former longtime assistant coach at N.C. State under Dick Sheridan and Mike O'Cain. Simmons, who coached with Robbie Caldwell and remains close with the Tigers' offensive line coach, tells some priceless stories about what it was like to work with Caldwell. Simmons recounts how close Sheridan was to taking the Georgia job after Vince Dooley hung up his whistle (Sheridan, in fact, had accepted the job but pulled out when the news leaked). He also shares insight into N.C. State's casual attitude toward facilities improvements during the tenures of Sheridan and O'Cain, followed by a major emphasis once Chuck Amato took over following O'Cain's firing. Simmons has vivid memories of what it was like to battle Clemson on the recruiting trail when Danny Ford and his staff made North Carolina a large part of their talent procurement. He also recalls the surreal day in 1987 when an N.C. State team that would finish 4-7 went to Clemson and was up 30-0 at halftime and barely survived a rare passing assault by Rodney Williams in a 30-28 Wolfpack victory. Sheridan's teams won three straight over Clemson in 1986, 1987 and 1988. Simmons has written a book on legendary South Carolina high school coach Doug Bennett, who coached Swansea High from 1954 to 1989 and had the courage to stand up and battle massive resistance to public-school integration in the late 1960s and 1970s. Bennett is a recipient of the Order of the Palmetto, the state's highest civilian honor. He is one of six brothers who served WWII, and remarkably all six survived. Simmons' book about Bennett's remarkable life is titled "Man in the Gap."
Kelly Quinlan, publisher of the Georgia Tech Rivals site and several others in the Rivals network including Mississippi State, South Florida, Wake Forest and Cincinnati, shares what it's like to juggle so many sites serving so many different fan bases. Quinlan also reflects on what it was like to develop a close relationship with Paul Johnson, close enough that Johnson would share some rather memorable off-the-record thoughts -- including being angry when Dabo Swinney parted ways with Kevin Steele ("I own that guy," Johnson told Quinlan). Quinlan was also close with Dan Radakovich when he was AD at Georgia Tech. He shares insight into what made Radakovich jump at the chance to take the Clemson job. And finally, Quinlan gives his take on second-year Tech coach Geoff Collins and the momentum he's built as a starkly different leader than his predecessor.
Jerry McGee was a college football referee from 1972-2009. He was also a university president. He developed countless relationships with coaches and players during that time, including some of the game's most decorated figures. McGee recently co-authored a book with his two sons entitled: "Sidelines and Bloodlines: A Father, His Sons, and Our Life in College Football." McGee often took his sons Ryan and Sam on road trips in the ACC and beyond. Ryan became a sportswriter and is now a distinguished writer and personality at ESPN. Jerry McGee knew Danny Ford and his assistants well and witnessed firsthand the transformation of Clemson's football program in the late 1970s. He also has a great appreciation for not just Dabo Swinney's reviving of the glory days, but how he's done it. Dr. McGee gives his thoughts on the best team he ever saw, the best player, the loudest stadium and -- yes, the nastiest fans.
Keith Jennings calls from the road as he scouts college football players for the Buffalo Bills (He's in Alabama but won't say who he's scouting). The former Tiger receiver and NFL veteran looks back at the Danny Ford days of Clemson football, his recruitment to Clemson (he was going to Florida State until Seminoles assistant Art Baker took the head job at East Carolina), his relationship with Deion Sanders and the rivalry with South Carolina. Jennings, who worked on Dabo Swinney's staff in 2015 and 2016, recounts what he learned from being on the inside of an ascending college football powerhouse. He also shares news of a health scare recently when he learned he has an enlarged heart. He believes it's from COVID and says he now has a defibrillator at age 54. Jennings also gives his take on how Swinney has handled turbulent times over the past few months.
When he was about to leave for Clemson, Woody Dantzler sat down for a talk with his father. "Don't go up there and just be a football player," his father told him. Dantzler lived out that command not just as a student, but in his post-football life. He was a force of nature on the field, and now he seeks to be a force of change off it as he works with Greenville County schools to better accommodate the needs and talents of teachers and students alike. Dantzler also is a motivational speaker and a mentor to current Clemson football players. He is also pursuing a master's degree. And on top of all that, he has a full-time job as a pharmaceutical sales rep. Dantzler, who lives in Greenville with his wife and two girls, gives his ideas for making the world a better place. He also shares his thoughts on how Dabo Swinney and Clemson have handled a turbulent spring and summer.