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Swinney: Rift with Parker over, QB will start bowl
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker is back in good standings with his coaches and will start in the Meineke Bowl later this month.
Parker spent the rest of the game on the sidelines by himself, fueling speculation he might leave before the bowl game and start concentrating on baseball. But Parker decided last week to return for the bowl, saying “I’m not a quitter” and Swinney said his quarterback handled his disappointment well enough to keep his starting job.
“You take competitive people and you put them in that environment, and you have moments,” said Swinney, who wouldn’t detail exactly what was said on the sidelines.
Swinney said he is starting Parker over redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd, who will likely take over the team next season, because Parker gives Clemson the best chance to beat South Florida in the Dec. 31 bowl game in Charlotte, N.C.
“The best way to prepare for next year is winning this game,” Swinney said.
Parker was picked in the first round of this year’s baseball draft, but the sophomore gave up $800,000 to return to Clemson and play football. Instead of a triumphant return, Parker has thrown for eight fewer touchdowns, 447 fewer yards and two more interceptions as the Tigers have gone 6-6.
“Take your disappointment and multiply it by a million and that’s how I feel. And that’s how our team feels,” Swinney said.
After the South Carolina loss, Swinney wouldn’t guarantee Parker was going to start in the bowl game. Last week, Parker said he spent a couple of days weighing the options of leaving to start his baseball career immediately versus the damage that might do to his reputation at Clemson. Then he talked to Swinney, and the two patched up their differences.
“Let’s see if we can grow up a little bit and take another step toward manhood,” Swinney said recalling their conversation.
Swinney also said Monday he doesn’t expect to make any changes in his coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Billy Napier interviewed last week for the head coaching job at his alma mater Furman, and Swinney expects the matter to be resolved soon.
“If I felt like there have to be changes to be made, I’ll make them. It’s that simple,” Swinney said. “But I’m not going to make a change just to make one.”
Swinney said he spent several frustrating days after the South Carolina loss going over the whole season in his mind. All but two of Clemson’s six losses came by less than a touchdown, and the Tigers took No. 1 Auburn to overtime before losing on a missed field goal.
Clemson’s kicking game has let the Tigers down all year. They are 12-of-21 on field goals, with seven of the misses coming from inside 40 yards.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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