Originally created 12/29/96

Mike Berardino: Peach Bowl breeds more amnesia



ATLANTA - Tommy West says he doesn't remember much about his previous trip to the Peach Bowl.

Three years ago, coaching his first game in relief of the reviled Ken Hatfield, the new Clemson coach could barely keep all the names and numbers straight, much less memorize game details.

It was all a blur, that 14-13 win over Bill Curry's only bowl team at Kentucky.

Saturday night at the Georgia Dome, West returned to the Peach Bowl for the second time as a head coach. Selective amnesia might serve him well again.

He'll want to forget a number of strange sights and sounds that accompanied this prime-time showdown of mid-level felines.

Start with the pre-game blasting of Also Sprach Zarathustra. For some strange reason, the music practically patented by Clemson's hated rivals in Columbia accompanied the Tigers' arrival on the field.

Folks in orange booed. Then they saw their heroes racing out of the tunnel amid indoor fireworks. Some switched to cheers. Most kept booing. The music, not the players.

West will also want to forget the curious scene which took place on the field between the first and second quarters. You had Robert Dale Morgan, the Peach Bowl's ever-natty executive director, directing three guys in cow suits down on the 50-yard-line.

The guys in the cow suits seemed to follow orders well enough. They even held up their oversized placards so the paying customers could read the message: "Eat Mor Chikin."

After 29 years in this bowl business, the Peach Bowl is finally giving in to the corporate gods. Chik-fil-A has signed on as a title sponsor for next year's game, which means Morgan and his cronies have found their, uh, cash cow.

You might think the Clemson kids would have felt more comfortable with cows - or at least guys in cow suits - grazing on the plastic grass. Instead, they promptly let LSU roar down the field en route to a 10-7 halftime lead.

West will want to forget that part, too.

(Cow update. Cow update. At halftime, one of the guys in the cow suits was seen pressing the hooves in the press box. Asked for a prediction on the second half, the cow shrugged. Probably a Texas fan. OK, we'll stop milking this one.)

There were other sights West will want to forget.

Herb Tyler, LSU's gritty quarterback, picking out open receivers in the face of a nasty pass rush.

Raymond Priester, the record-setting tailback from Allendale, S.C., losing a rare fumble deep in LSU territory.

Down in Bayou Country, they still talk about the only previous meeting between LSU and Clemson. That came in the 1959 Sugar Bowl, when Paul Dietzel's Chinese Bandits shackled Clemson, 7-0, and pushed LSU to its last national football championship. The only touchdown came off the arm of a guy by the name of Billy Cannon.

It's doubtful Saturday's Peach Bowl will acquire a similar place in Cajun hearts in future years. Nor will it be the subject of much wistful reminiscence in the Upstate or in the West abode.

This shouldn't be the least bit surprising. History usually isn't made before guys in cow suits.