On Tuesday, I shared a list of 13 memories I will always have of 2013. You can read it here.
2014 has already been memorable, but before we get too far into it, here are some wishes and wants for the year ahead…
1. Clemson is competitive in the Orange Bowl, at the very least. Sure, a win would be nice for Tiger Nation. But merely being competitive down to the last second against a highly respected Ohio State team with a highly respected coach would go a long way toward replacing the memory of 70-33 with good vibes. Plus, it would demonstrate the progress made by Dabo Swinney in building his program at Clemson as a brand new contract rolls off the presses.
2. The upcoming quarterback battle in Tigertown extends into the fall. I have a hunch this is going to happen. Chad Kelly’s rumored unhappiness (since debunked) could easily re-emerge if either Cole Stoudt or Deshaun Watson is announced the starter at the end of spring practice. All three could be part of the plan heading into 2014, and another hunch I have says there could be a tandem situation with a capable third hand in the fold. But this needs to be a lengthy battle for control of the Clemson offense.
3. Clemson basketball needs to win half of its conference games. This has nothing to do with job security or an ultimatum for progress. It has everything to do with proof that the Tigers are in good hands. There are a bunch of winnable games away from home—including Saturday’s opener at Boston College—and we know how tough Clemson can be in Littlejohn Coliseum. My official prediction is 8-10 in the ACC, but an extra win or two could certainly emerge due to the weakness of the competition at the bottom of the league.
4. A new NBA Draft is approved by owners and put into place within the next five years. It’s the “wheel concept” and it’s outlined here in a Grantland piece from just before Christmas. Personally, I agree with this, but I understand the objections raised. It’s worth a look, at the very least, in an effort to curtail tanking. Other professional sports leagues may choose to take notice if tanking becomes a problem like it has in the NBA.
5. Baseball’s expanded instant replay fails and falls flat with fans. I hate the idea of replay coming to baseball. It doesn’t even fulfill its mission to get every call right in sports where it is prevalent. Correct calls are overturned too often, and the correct call is too often still a matter of perspective—which is what replay was intended to avoid in the first place. It slows every game down, and for a sport routinely chastised for lack of pace anyway, this is a really bad idea.
6. The Pacers win the Eastern Conference. This would be a great day for the handful of Pacer fans in this neck of the woods. But more than that, it would dethrone the Miami Heat dynasty set up by a thick bankroll for an undeserving lousy fan base to claim as its own in the worst sports town in the United States. Winning the NBA Finals would be nice, but it’s not necessary this year.
7. Clemson sees a good, healthy snowstorm. This is not a prayer for ice to derail all business for days. This is not an invitation to landlock all land-owning citizens. I just want some snow on the ground. That’s all.
8. New York does not see a good, healthy snowstorm on February 2. This is Super Bowl Sunday, and the doom-and-gloom forecasts of months ago have largely subsided, leaving only a minor threat of snow. Still, as much as I love to see bad ideas like outdoor Super Bowls in the north go down in flames (or a blizzard), I think the world’s biggest football game is too much collateral damage for my tastes.
9. All levels of football change their targeting rules so they make sense. Right now, targeting is an absolute joke. Head injuries are stagnant in the NFL, and college football has seen targeting ejections overturned on replay left and right. Offensive players are not held accountable, which is regrettable, and quarterbacks are now treated with kid gloves to the detriment of the game. I just want it all to go away.
10. Littlejohn Coliseum sees an actual sellout crowd for a non-Duke or North Carolina game. Seriously, it’s embarrassing how little Clemson fans support basketball while demanding results. It’s like tax evaders calling for the government to fund more programs. The student problem is beyond fixing, so this is up to alumni and the community.
11. Sanity is restored to out-of-control coaching contracts. Rumors of a 10-year, $100 million offer out to Nick Saban by some prominent Texas boosters circulated as recently as a few weeks ago. We live in an age of escalation where an arms race plagues collegiate athletics and has aided in changing its culture into a virtual copy of the professional ranks. I know it’s not much, but keeping coach salaries under $10 million annually is a good thing. Let’s hope it remains that way.
12. Those who cheat the game—whichever game it is—face poetic justice. This group might include anyone who wastes talent by avoiding effort, repeatedly exhibits bad behavior, or generally acts like a buffoon during competition. This is a lengthy list. I’ll let you use your imagination.
13. No injuries and no suspensions. As long as those two things are absent, it could be a successful 2014 for Clemson athletics.
14. My hope is that Robert, Will, Ed, and the TCI family experience health and happiness over the next year. I’m grateful to be a part of this endeavor and look forward to many more posts like this one in 2014.