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Jim Phillips Answers Your ‘Ask The Tigers’ Questions

March 15, 2001

Below are Jim Phillips’ answers to the selected questions that you submitted this past week to “Ask The Tigers”. would like to thank you for all of your questions submitted. We would also like to thank Jim for his time and sincere effort with “Ask The Tigers”. _______________________________________________________________

Dear Mr. Phillips, Even though I am a big USC fan, I have always loved to here you call Clemson games, I was in Clemson when Bob Fulton retired. The class and respect that you and the fans showed for Bob was incredible. I can’t wait for your final trip to Columbia(hopefully not for a long time)because I will be the first one to stand and the last one to sit down on your victory lap. My question for you is this: How do you think the Clemson-USC rivalry compares to others in the country? Thank you and God bless.Michael Prewitt Columbia, SC

First of all I would like to say thanks for the compliments. And it’s great to have friends like Bob Fulton. The rivalry between Clemson and South Carolina is one that is unique. I came from Ohio and the Ohio State/Michigan rivalry was big there, but that was two different states. So this was the first one I had really been around that took into consideration the two major state supported universities. And I think it stands right up there with the best of them. I think, however in the 80s, the South Carolina/Clemson rivalry diminished a little bit when Clemson and Georgia got going there over a period of 11 games going 5-5-1, which is about as even as you can get. But the South Carolina/Clemson rivalry came back, as I knew it would. And it is out there right with the best of them. I think it is a lot like Alabama and Auburn. I don’t think it gets its due, nationally, which I think has to do with South Carolina being a small state. You don’t see the national television year in and year out, but it is a very important rivalry in this state, no doubt.

Jim, What is the most memorable “performance” by the FANS in Death Valley and on the road that you can recall?Derrell Ellis Greenwood, SC

I would say that the most memorable performance by the fans didn’t come at Death Valley and it didn’t come at a visiting school, it came at the Greenville/Spartanburg Jetport in 1978 after Clemson won the ACC Championship at Maryland. It was the first ACC Championship in sometime. It was estimated that some 20,000 fans met the team. Cars were parked along I-85. The airport was so crowded they had to turn off the escalator. I really felt so fortunate to be on that trip, to arrive back with that team, to see the generous outpouring by the Clemson fans, tears in their eyes, and welcoming their heroes back. You couldn’t see anything but faces and orange attire. So to me, that really tops all. There is just no comparison.

Jim, Who have been some of your favorite personalities you have had the opportunity to know?Robert Key Easley, SC

Well, when you look at that 1981 team, it was really a surprise to most. They started off playing Wofford. There is a little bit of irony here, because Villinova cancelled out on Clemson because they dropped football. And as a result, Clemson had to get someone on late notice and they picked up Wofford. You can relate that to 2001. A lot of people have complained about that, but I see a lot of irony here. Danny Ford was in his third year as coach of the Tigers and Tommy Bowden is going into his third year as coach of the Tigers. But back to the question, I think when it comes down to it, the 1978 team was the team that I really related closely with. The Steve Fullers, the Bostics, the Jerry Butlers, the Stuckeys. All of these guys that were really enjoying being Clemson Tigers. At that same time leading up to 1980, the basketball team had people like Tree Rollins, Wayne Croft, and later on Bobby Conrad who led the team to the Final Eight in the NCAAs with Larry Nance on that team. Baseball wise there have been some great players around Clemson that I have had a chance to relate with. Kris Benson, you could not ask for a better person than Kris Benson. I pull really hard for him and you just know it is going to happen for him in Pittsburgh. And then there was Billy Koch, he has the kind of personality that you love in that roll. He was cocky, yes, but he could afford to be because is very very good at what he does, and that is come in there and just fire at the plate. Also, the Fridge. What a great personality. But you know, if I were to have to sit here and name every athlete that came here through Clemson, I would have to get out the books. There have been some great ones.

Jim, In all of your years at Clemson, what do you consider to be the highest point in all of Clemson’s sports?John Caudle Columbia, SC

Well, being in Columbia, you have to remember in 1977 at Williams-Brice Stadium, Clemson winning over South Carolina. There were so many things involved in that game. It was the first time Clemson was going to a bowl game since 1959. They knew they were going, but the official invitation would not be extended until the game was over. Clemson led 24-0 at halftime, with 1:40 left in the game, South Carolina had taken the lead 28-24. I thought “OH MY”. I had set the whole thing up in the locker room where the Gator Bowl people would extend the invitation, and I thought “what am I going to do?”. Well Steve Fuller was the quarterback, another one of my favorite players, and he went out and led them down the field. He hit Dwight Clark with a pass, he hit a couple of other receivers, he then eventually hit Jerry Butler with a pass right at the goal line on an amazing throw and catch for Clemson to win the game. I recall one South Carolina fan looking into the press box when they went ahead and he smiled at me, not ugly or anything, just a happy Gamecock fan, and he should have been. Then Fuller led the team down the field for the touchdown and the Tigers won the game. He turned around after the game stuck his hand out and said “that’s one heck of a quarterback, you ought to be proud of him”. I was definitely, and so were all Clemson fans that day. That is a highlight that is hard to overlook, and you being from Columbia triggered that flashback.

Jim, Tiger basketball appears to be lacking a team leader this year and some previous years. You are closer to tiger athletics than I have been since my graduation in 1975. My question is in two parts. Does the basketball team have a leader, and who is it?James Dewitt Hartsville, SC

Well, first of all I think there was a reason for a sign of a lack of leadership the last couple of seasons, and that is because there was one senior the last couple of seasons, and they both spent the majority of their seasons injured. When you eliminate Adam from most of the conference games, that is really going to hurt your ball club from an inside standpoint. So Will Solomon tried to step up as a junior, but I think Will over-extended himself trying so hard trying to assume the leadership roll. As a result, he had far too many turnovers throughout the course of the season. But I think Will is a phenomenal player that is going to enjoy a great NBA career someday.

Jim I really enjoy your broadcasts. Do you have a favorite saying when you get excited about a particular play a Clemson player has made? I seem to recall “and he’s off to the races” when we played Maryland for the ACC football championship in 78 after Clark and Butler caught TD passes. Is there another favorite exciting phrase that you say? Thanks and keep up the great work that you do for the Fans and dear old Clemson.Ronald Abrams Whitmire, SC

Well, you’ll never know how much flack I got for “he’s off to the races”. That was the Dwight Clark catch, 80 yards or more. I described Fuller back to throw and he hits Clark across the middle and he was off to the races, and I shut up. And I caught flack from a lot of fans because I didn’t indicate that he scored. And they were right. But I was caught up in the moment. But I don’t have catch phrases that I carry around and say on a regular basis. I let the moment dictate to me what I am going to say. I used to say “OH MY” when I was back in Ohio in the early 60s doing high school and small college games, and I carried that until Dick Enberg became a big star, and I kept hearing him say “OH MY”, and I thought to myself, I better find something else to say, because nobody is going to believe that I didn’t copy that from Dick Enberg. That was really only thing that I can recall that I said on a regular basis. I tell you what though, I try not to listen to other broadcasters for that reason. I don’t want to get into a position where I use someone else’s catch phrase. I hear young announcers do that and I think they are making a big mistake. I think they need to just be themselves and let their personalities and the emotion of the moment dictate what is to be said. I have always felt that is the way to go.

Jim, Over all the years at Clemson, you have seen a lot of changes in college athletics. In your opinion, what are the positives and what are the negatives.Billy Hendricks Gastonia, NC

Well Billy, I hate to say it but I think there are more bad things happening to college sports than good things. I think the NCAA is at a cross-road. They have to do something. They have allowed corporate sponsorships to rule the game. I know money is important, and it is difficult for programs to survive without money. But I think the NCAA has sold out for money. There are TV timeouts at sporting events now that ruin the way the game is played, team gain a little momentum, they have things going well, and the next thing you know, there is a three minute timeout. It takes away the continuity from the game itself. It is also not good that the NCAA seems fit to punish some schools for lesser violations than they punish others for serious violations. I don’t understand how this can occur, but it does. I think we have some cases out there right now, I won’t go into who they are, but if there are not some very stiff penalties, it will just be a travesty. The NCAA seems to see that these schools have a big TV market and they just don’t want to sacrifice those schools. They are going to continue to let them be in the forefront. I also think that it is wrong that a Notre Dame can have a network to broadcast their games exclusively. They have a contract with NBC. No other school has that. I think it is detrimental to all other schools for one school to have a contract like that, because they are on nationally ever week, where every other broadcast is usually regional. There are just too many things the NCAA does that hurts the game. The positives are that the athletes that we see today are better athletes than we saw before on a constant basis. They are so well trained, they grow so solid and so strong with better diets and work-outs. And the over-all context of the game is better because of the athletes. And one thing that is a big plus for Clemson and it is known nationally and that is Vickery. Bill D’Andrea and his staff do a great job. Every athlete at Clemson, no matter what sport, loves the learning center. I know many athletes, and so many of them when they get out of Clemson, their first words are “thanks for Vickery”. So things like Vickery sure are positives.

Jim, Excluding Death Valley, which school that you have done a broadcast from has the best football atmosphere?Daniel Babcock Spartanburg, SC

Well, Carolina has a great football atmosphere. You know you read so much about the tough years that Carolina has had, and there fans were always there. They always get out and participate. I also think that Georgia, although the fans can get a bit ugly there at times, it is very rah-rah, you can’t help but getting caught up. It is nice to go in there and win, because you take some of that rah-rah out of them. But it is true wherever you go and they have a deep allegiance to football. But Carolina and Georgia are two great places to go play, and better yet when you win at those places.

Jim, Knowing that you are very passionate about the Tigers, how are you able to keep calm when Clemson gets a bad call or messes up to lose a big game? Do you have to make a conscious effort or is it just years of practice?Alan Easterling Georgetown, SC

I didn’t think I remained calm. But that’s good to hear. I would like to think I am objective when it comes to Clemson. But if I think the officials are doing a lousy job out there, I will be the first one to talk about it. But I will also be the first one to say when the officials make a bad call against the opponent. I am finishing up 33 years of following Clemson sports, and it is hard to go out and be around something that long without being passionate about it. But I am glad that someone thinks I am objective, sometimes I think I am not. But that’s OK, because deep down inside I am a fan too. I can help but be a fan.

Jim, You have been doing this for so many years and we sure do enjoy it, how much longer can we look forward to hearing your voice on the radio as the voice of the tigers?Bobby Rettew Clemson, SC

I have no plans to retire at this moment. I think that I will know when I am no longer capable of doing it. However, if Clemson University hears from the fans that they are not satisfied with my work, and Clemson University informs me of that, I can take that. Because I know that I have had a lot of good years, and I have met a lot of good people, and I have made a lot of good friends as a result of the job that I have, that is really not like a job. It is more like an exhilarating moment in life that lasts over the years. So as long as Clemson is satisfied and the Clemson fans are satisfied, and I am healthy, I will continue. But I’ll know when, and I hope that it comes down that. I hope that I know when, and I am smart enough to pull out on my own. But I hope I’ve got a lot of years left, I’ll tell you that.

Thanks everyone. I always enjoy talking Clemson with fans. Go Tigers! Jim Phillips

Next week’s guest on “Ask The Tigers” will be the Sports Information Director for Clemson, Tim Bourret.