Clemson-SC State brothers square off Saturday Print
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Thursday, 18 September 2008 22:12
NCAAF Headline News

 CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -Oh, brother, what a crazy week for two sets of siblings who'll face each other for the first time when No. 23 Clemson takes on South Carolina State.
Bulldogs run game coordinator Joe Blackwell will have to pick apart a Tiger defense trained in part by younger brother David, Clemson's linebacker coach. Tigers safety Michael Hamlin can't answer his cellphone this week without a smile, knowing its probably younger brothers Markee or Marquais running their mouths about the upset South Carolina State has planned.
``The only one I feel for is the mother,'' Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said. ``The brothers will have a lot of fun out of it.''
Clemson's Hamlin can't wait for his younger brothers to see the Tigers up close.
``This will probably be the talk for the rest of our lives,'' he said.
t by one side will be dejection endured by the other. ``It's different,'' David said. ``It's not something you enjoy a whole lot. Come Saturday, someone's having a bad weekend.''
Family gatherings are old hat for Clemson football; coach Tommy Bowden and father Bobby go through their annual ``Bowden Bowl'' games when the Tigers take on Atlantic Coast Conference rival Florida State.
So far, the Blackwells and Hamlins are taking things with a playful spirit.
David called his brother Tuesday around noon, Joe saying he was off to lunch. ``Oh, we're still here working and you're headed to lunch. You must have us all figured out,'' David said.
Clemson better hope that's not the case.
South Carolina State is a Championship Subdivision team not expected to give the ACC title favorites a hard time at Death Valley. Clemson gave the Bulldogs a $235,000 guarantee for the game and the 80,000-plus expected in Memorial Stadium are thinking blowout.
Because of all the familial and professional connections between the schools, South Carolina State coach Buddy Pough had some reservations about accepting the game.
``I was not really on board because the ties run so deep,'' Pough said.
Pough was brought back to college coaching by Clemson offensive line coach Brad Scott, and Tigers recruiting coordinator Billy Napier worked with Pough for a year at South Carolina State.
end, if we were to win a game like this, you don't want to see the fallout that they would feel,'' Pough said.
Joe Blackwell has been close to Clemson's program since growing up a Tiger fans in Greenville. He's worked football camps there for years and in recent seasons has talked football schemes with Clemson offensive coordinator Rob Spence.
The two found themselves doing the same this summer, Joe Blackwell remembered, when Spence suddenly stopped. ``We're playing you this fall, aren't we?''
``It's exciting for me to play against them, for our program to play against them,'' Joe said. ``Of course with him being there and for my family, that makes it special. But once the game starts, it's just a game.''
The Blackwells talk three to five times a week when they're not playing each other, typically one crafting a football scene they want the other to attack. ``I tried to get Joe to do that this time, but he didn't bite,'' David Blackwell said.
For the Hamlins, it's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to share the same college field.
The Hamlins grew up playing on the same sides throughout high school, all starring for Lamar High. Their father, Michael Sr., once had five interceptions in a game for Timmonsville High. His secondary skills have rubbed off. Clemson's Michael is an all-ACC safety who had three interceptions in the Tigers' win over The Citadel two games ago.
start at strong safety for the Bulldogs with freshman Marquais backing up at free safety.
``It's going to be a very fun experience,'' Marquais Hamlin said. ``I'm trying to get him to tell us what they're going to do on offense, but he wouldn't do it.''
Michael said his parents plan to wear a T-shirt with all the boys' names on it, sort of like when Tommy's mother Ann wore a sweater that was half Clemson-half Florida State for the first ``Bowden Bowl'' in 1999.
The Hamlin parents will sit on Clemson's side, Michael said. Mom is particularly diplomatic when it comes to their children. ``She'll say me while she's around me and when she's around them, she'll say them,'' Michael said.
There's more than a victory or family bragging rights on the line, too. Markee and Michael have agreed the loser will have to wear the winner's jersey around for a week. ``I don't want to wear his,'' Markee said with a laugh.
 

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