Notebook: Wet weather can't subdue Clemson at home

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

CLEMSON, S.C. — Rain couldn’t wash away one of the biggest college football games in the country Saturday night.

The grass at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium soaked up record-setting rain with the help of a recently-installed drainage system.

“I’m not saying it’s as good as Augusta National (Golf Club), but it’s pretty good,” said Clemson sports information director Tim Bourret, a 1977 Notre Dame graduate.

Bourret said the school considered moving the kickoff of Saturday’s game against Notre Dame, but the decision was made to start the game at the originally planned 8:22 p.m. EDT.

“I wasn’t involved in the conversation, but our university administrators considered it,” Bourret said. “They looked at all the forecasts, and it was decided that we could keep it as is.”

The National Weather Service reported rainfall of 2.55 inches at the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, located within 50 miles of the Clemson campus, by 4:33 p.m. The total surpassed the daily record of .77 inches set in 1961.

Clemson’s field crew spent time pushing water off its natural playing surface before the game with squeegees. The crew went back to work on the field at halftime and forced the band to perform in the stands.

The rainy weather didn’t keep away a raucous Clemson crowd. The crowd started to rush in at 6 p.m. with the first fans finding seats in the student section and spots on the hill behind the east end zone. Some spots along the hill were claimed by fans wearing orange ponchos sliding into place.

Recruiting impact

Clemson had the opportunity to host prospects on campus Saturday, but the game held recruiting implications for both teams.

A win on a national stage can influence recruits in a number of ways. Mike Farrell, national recruiting director for Rivals, said many recruits have become more fickle. Big games can shift a program’s reputation in the eyes of a teenager.

“We live in a world of overreaction. Recruiting has mirrored that,” Farrell said. “If you asked me that question 10 years ago, I’d say one game is not going to make a huge difference in the minds of football recruits. Today it makes a huge difference. We’ve seen kids decommit after a horrible loss or a bad start for their team. We’ve seen kids commit to a program immediately after a huge win.”

Only bad weather hampered the setup for a big recruiting weekend for Clemson. The presence of ESPN’s “College GameDay” added to the national reach. But Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, who signed the No. 4 recruiting class in the country for the 2015 class according to Rivals, said the Tigers are pitching a bigger package than one day can capture.

“Recruits want to be at a place where they can compete at the highest level,” Swinney said. “You look at the draft picks out there, the type of graduates. All of that stuff matters. But having GameDay here, I don’t think that’s going to sway one way or the other. I think guys are going to come here because of the consistency in what we’ve done as a program.”

Conference talk

Swinney’s preseason comments about Notre Dame became a story once again earlier in the week. He told ESPN’s Brett McMurphy in July that Notre Dame needs to be in a conference or play 13 games in order to qualify for the College Football Playoff.

Asked again during the week, Swinney tried to soften his stance slightly. He said he only answered the question that was posed to him.

“I could care less what Notre Dame does,” Swinney said at a press conference Tuesday. “I really could care less. My concern is Clemson and the things that I control. I don’t care one iota what Notre Dame does. That’s their business.”

“But ask me the question or my opinion, yeah, I think they should have to play 13 games. I mean, to me, I feel, not just them, same thing with the Big 12. I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think it’s equitable. I can’t do anything about it, so I ain’t worried about it. I could care less.”

Fans cheer during warmups before the Notre Dame-Clemson NCAA football game on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, Memorial Stadium at Clemson University in Clemson, SC. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)