Tuesday, September 11, 2007

That's what friends are for

Mike LaPlante doesn’t like it. Jimmy Tillette doesn’t like it. Like most coaches, Jack Crowe doesn’t like to play his friends, either, and he considers Memphis coach Tommy West a friend.

They worked together for three years at Clemson — “three good years,” as Crowe recalls. Three years with rings. Atlantic Coast Conference championship rings.

So highly did Crowe think of West, he tried to hire him as a defensive assistant when he got the Arkansas job. Unsure whether it would be a coordinator’s job or just an assistant’s post, West took a job as running backs coach at Tennessee.

“I don’t like playing friends, no,” Crowe said earlier this week. “You’d like to have a certain type of emotion to go compete and there’s no way I’m going to have anything but a smile when I see Tommy.”

After all, you tend to develop a bond when you create NCAA legislation together.

Or, if you listen to the story, you’re the subject of NCAA legislation being created.
To hear Crowe tell it, he and West were at the root of the NCAA putting in the 48-hour dead period in recruiting.

“That’s a fairly bold statement,” Crowe agreed. “Tommy and I pulled off a recruiting coup in the State of Georgia … that the only way (the University of) Georgia could stop us was to create an NCAA rule. That’s not a want-to-think-big-about-yourself (statement). That’s a fact.”

Clemson and Georgia were running neck and neck for a linebacker named John Johnson. It was one of those deals Georgia fans would show up at Johnson’s basketball games wearing the red-and-black just to remind him of his state “loyalties.”

Johnson committed to UGA on the Monday of signing week, then when it came time to put pen to paper, signed with Clemson on Wednesday. He went on to become one of the Tigers’ finest players.

The Bulldog Nation was livid.

“When John committed to Georgia on Monday and signed with Clemson on Wednesday, coach (Vince) Dooley made danged sure the 48-hour dead period would be enacted; it was in about a month,” Crowe recalled. “I guess you could say we were a couple of legislators.”

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