Clemson Football: One Quick Thing – Ground Control to Paul Finebaum?

Jan 6, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; ESPN broadcaster Paul Finebaum during media day at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 6, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; ESPN broadcaster Paul Finebaum during media day at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

Clemson Football is a little over two months away from the start of the 2023 season. This off-season has been eventful. Starting with the transfer of incumbent starter DJ Uiagalelei, it quickly transitioned into the hire of new offensive coordinator Garrett Riley. Followed by an interesting spring and another successful Official Visit weekend at the beginning of June, there has been a lot to talk about in Tiger Nation.

Yet, something feels off. Something is missing. For a while, I couldn’t put my finger on it. Suddenly it occurred to me:

Where in the world is Paul Finebaum?

Usually, by this point in the summer, Finebaum has had something unflattering to say about Clemson, Dabo Swinney, or Tiger fans. Often by this point, there have been a few statements that get under the skin of Clemson supporters. So far this offseason: crickets.

Finebaum has had plenty to say. It just isn’t about the Tigers. Finebaum was recently asked what team was most likely to underachieve this season. His answer was Florida State, the offseason darlings of college football.

He’s recently participated in a sports talk slap fight with Tim Brando, who called Finebaum out for the perceived SEC bias that, well, everyone else has called him out for also.

He’s also predicted the doom of the PAC-12 and expressed his apathy for the NCAA and their rules, but not a hint of Clemson bashing. There is, of course, a good reason for this.

If I were to call in on his show and ask Finebaum:

“Why aren’t you talking about Clemson, Pawl?”

I’m pretty sure his answer would be:

“Well, what is there to talk about? They’re irrelevant to the upcoming season. They haven’t been in the playoff discussion since 2020. They are now half a decade removed from their last national championship. They aren’t even the favorites in their own conference in the eyes of most people, and their conference is a joke. Nobody cares about Clemson in 2023, so why would I talk about them?”

If you haven’t already, read back through that and imagine Finebaum saying that in your head, and it will feel like the good old days again.

Clemson Football isn’t on Paul Finebaum’s mind because they aren’t on his target market’s mind

Keep in mind that I say that sarcastically. There are sports pundits who think Clemson will be relevant in 2023, most notably Phil Steele, who thinks Clemson will be in the playoffs.

When it comes to Finebaum, however, the truth is that the message above isn’t too far off-base, and it has more to do with business than anything personal against Clemson Nation.

Finebaum has long been known for pulling the right strings and pushing the right buttons to get a response, especially with his primary target market: Alabama fans.

Clemson once enflamed the Tide fanbase. Now? Not so much. Their attention has turned to LSU, Tennessee, and the two-time defending champion Georgia Bulldogs. Oh, and Jimbo Fisher. It doesn’t matter how badly the Aggies stink, they will always hate him.

So while what I said a minute ago when I put words in Finebaum’s mouth was sarcasm, I think it isn’t far from the truth. Clemson’s profile has receded among Finebaum’s target market recently, so the Tigers haven’t found themselves in his crosshairs lately.

Then again, the summer isn’t over….

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