Parker, Tigers may rue decisions

Staff WriterNovember 5, 2010 

Kyle Parker's midsummer decision to play college football this season was very popular with Clemson fans, less popular with the Colorado Rockies.

Eight games into the season and entering a crucial game against N.C. State on Saturday, the decision isn't working out very well for Parker or Clemson.

The Tigers are 4-4 overall, with remaining games against Florida State, Wake Forest and South Carolina after the Wolfpack.

Dabo Swinney, after just 29 games as Clemson's head coach, is already in hot water with fans, and now there's reason to think Parker could lose his starting job.

Backup quarterback Tajh Boyd, a redshirt freshman from Hampton, Va., said earlier this week that he expects to play against the Pack.

"I think you'll see me on the field this weekend," Boyd told The State newspaper of Columbia, S.C. "I don't know how much, but when I do [play], I have to take advantage of my opportunities. ... Coach told me he doesn't know how much or what type of setting, but he said I will [play]."

Parker has thrown eight touchdown passes this season but has also thrown six interceptions. Two of those interceptions contributed to Clemson's 16-10 loss at Boston College on Saturday.

"I take the blame," Parker said after the game.

But Swinney and offensive coordinator Billy Napier are taking the real heat. So too is Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips, who made the decision to hire Swinney after he went 4-3 in relief of the fired Tommy Bowden midway through the 2008 season.

The decision to promote Swinney, who played and coached at Alabama before joining the staff at Clemson, was generally popular at the time.

The Bama root system has worked well for Clemson before. Danny Ford once played for the Tide. So did the late Frank Howard. And Charley Pell. Those three won 279 games for the Tigers.

With Parker's return, the preseason assumption was that Clemson could match or even exceed last season's win total of nine. Now it's possible Swinney won't get out of the season with a winning record.

Parker's situation is in stark contrast to that of N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson, also a Colorado baseball pick who came back to play football. N.C. State, expected by many media members to have a losing season, is already bowl eligible at 6-2 overall and has a shot at making the ACC championship game Swinney's team reached last season.

But that's been the general theme of ACC football the past few seasons. Teams that look good on paper in August routinely feel the real heat in November, while long shots - the Pack and Maryland qualify at the moment - often deliver.

caulton.tudor@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8946

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