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Dialed into Death Valley

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There are times when coaches go through and answer a question in the right way while not necessarily providing much excitement for what they’re saying.

That often comes when they are asked about how tough an opposing venue is to go into.

That wasn’t exactly the sort of question Ralph Friedgen received today. But he gave a different answer than the norm when describing Clemson’s Memorial Stadium.

“It’s really great,” Friedgen said. “I’ve played there so many times in my career. It’s what college football is all about. It’s exciting, it’s loud, it’s a tough place to play. But I really like playing there. It gets the juices flowing. It’s a tremendous environment. The Clemson fans are really great fans. I just think of all the games I’ve played there, and it’s just one of the unique places to play in the country.”

That got me thinking. Has Friedgen been ultra-successful down there, or is his cheeriness tied in more to atmosphere.

As a result, I culled all the games a team he played or coached in played in Death Valley. Here’s the full list:

* 1967: Clemson 28, Maryland 7 (player)

* 1969: Clemson 40, Maryland 0 (grad assistant)
* 1971: Clemson 20, Maryland 14 (grad assistant)

* 1973: Clemson 14, The Citadel 12 (defensive line coach)
* 1976: Clemson 10, The Citadel 7 (defensive line coach)
* 1978: Clemson 58, The Citadel 3 (offensive coordinator)

* 1983: Clemson 52, Maryland 27 (offensive coordinator)
* 1985: Maryland 34, Clemson 31 (offensive coordinator)

* 1987: Clemson 33, Georgia Tech 12 (offensive coordinator)
* 1989: Georgia Tech 30, Clemson 14 (offensive coordinator)
* 1991: Clemson 9, Georgia Tech 7 (offensive coordinator)

* 1998: Georgia Tech 24, Clemson 21 (offensive coordinator)
* 2000: Georgia Tech 31, Clemson 28 (offensive coordinator)

* 2002: Maryland 30, Clemson 12 (head coach)
* 2004: Clemson 10, Maryland 7 (head coach)
* 2006: Maryland 13, Clemson 12 (head coach)

Well, that’s pretty good of late. Four wins in the last five trips (with the loss abetted by a controversial penalty call); five in the last seven. That was after a 1-8 start, but it’s important to remember those Maryland teams Friedgen played and coached didn’t beat too many people.

So that’s a 6-10 lifetime record, which is better than a lot of folks manage. But it’s fair to say the success over the last decade isn’t the only reason Ralph likes the place.

Patrick Stevens

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