Clemson happy about its bowl assignment

Monday, December 23, 2002

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Sloshing through the snow in Idaho last year wasn't much fun for Clemson center Tommy Sharpe, even though the Tigers beat Louisiana Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl.

"We're Southern boys," he said. "We don't like to go up in the cold."

He won't have that problem this year. Clemson (7-5) plays Texas Tech (8-5) today in the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, where the forecast calls for a sunny sky and temperatures in the 70s.

Wide receiver Jackie Robinson, Sharpe's teammate, didn't want to be anywhere else. Before the Tigers defeated South Carolina 27-20 on Nov. 23 to end the regular season, Robinson explained to his teammates that they would go to either the Tangerine Bowl or the new Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.

Robinson said the difference between the two games was like sitting poolside on a warm day versus changing a flat tire on a cold December morning. When he found out Clemson was heading to Orlando, he was ecstatic.

"As soon as I got the news, I got on my phone and started calling all the players' numbers that I had," he said. "I was extremely happy, and they felt the same way."

Robinson can afford to feel that way, since he won't have to try to stop Red Raiders quarterback Kliff Kingsbury.

Kingsbury led Division I-A with 4,642 yards passing, and he threw 42 touchdown passes while running coach Mike Leach's wide-open offense.

It's a system Leach developed from watching other teams over the years, ranging from the Green Bay Packers to Valdosta High School in southern Georgia, when he was an assistant at nearby Division II Valdosta State.

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