From the time Clemson got off the plane Monday evening, it was obvious the Tigers aren’t going to have a typical bowl week.
Clemson was greeted by a mariachi band before taking part in the first of many media sessions over the next several days.
The media attention and distractions that come with playing in the College Football Playoff are unique, but Clemson believes it’s prepared to handle them, especially after dealing with them last season.
“This year, we’re just going in with a more experienced attitude. We know how it feels to be here,” senior safety Jadar Johnson said. “Last year, I feel like in a sense we were just happy to be there because we had never been there before on a big stage like that. We weren’t really used to all of the things that came with it. But now we know exactly what to expect.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge for Clemson is managing time.
Five defensive players and defensive coordinator Brent Venables met with the media Tuesday morning, and four offensive players as well as offensive coordinators Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott will meet with the media Wednesday.
Thursday, the entire team will be available to the media for an hour. In addition, Clemson players also spend time getting ready for the sessions and busing to and from the team’s hotel.
“It takes away from film. It takes away from our preparation. … Some guys, that’s an hour or two out of the day where we’re not watching film,” Boulware said of dealing with the media. “That’s no disrespect. … But I’d much rather be watching film than talking to y’all. I don’t mean that in a mean way. It is what it is. I have a job to take care of too, and I’m trying to play at a high level.”
Boulware added Clemson has a mature team that will handle its responsibilities.
“If you’ve got to wake up an hour and a half early to go watch film before you come here, then you’ve got to do that,” he said. Our time is that much more limited now with all the bowl festivities and media and this, that and the other that comes along with it.”
There’s an event Wednesday night with a comedian and a dinner Thursday that Clemson will take part in. There will also be shuttles running back and forth between the team hotel and downtown Scottsdale each night for players, according to a Clemson spokesperson.
It’s up to the players how much time they spend enjoying the area and how much time they spend focused on football. Johnson said the team will have no problem balancing time.
“We want to have fun, but at the same time we have to remember why we came down here, and that’s to handle business,” he said. “When it’s time for practice, when it’s time for film, we need to lock in and we’ll have fun later.”
Who: Clemson (12-1) vs. Ohio State (11-1)
When: 7 p.m., Saturday
Where: Glendale, Ariz.
Line: OSU by 3