“I kind of feel his pain.”

What to do if you’re Tommy Bowden and you’ve got more scholarship players than the NCAA allows?

Well, you could always hope for just the right amount of attrition, a la Nick Saban. Or you could simply get a little more proactive with matters.

Ray Ray McElrathbey is done with football at Clemson, and a teammate said it’s because the Tigers’ coaching staff decided not to renew his scholarship for the 2008-09 academic year.

Clemson announced Saturday that McElrathbey, a reserve tailback who gained national fame for taking custody of his younger brother, is no longer with the team. Team spokesman Tim Bourret said McElrathbey, who has two years of football eligibility remaining, will graduate in August and plans to attend graduate school or transfer and play elsewhere.

James Davis, a senior tailback for the Tigers, said McElrathbey told him he didn’t have a choice.

“He said something about how they weren’t going to renew his scholarship,” said Davis, who has been friends with McElrathbey since their high school days in Atlanta. “It really surprised me. But there’s a lot of stuff you can’t say. It’s something I guess everybody has to learn to live with.”

It sounds like nobody can say. According to Davis, McElrathbey ain’t talking because he “doesn’t want them to badmouth his name if he wants to play football somewhere else.” And Tommy’s hiding behind the veil of plausible deniability.

After Clemson wrapped up its first practice of the spring Saturday, which Ray Ray did not participate in, Coach Tommy Bowden did not confirm or deny that he initiated McElrathbey’s departure to free up a scholarship.

Will there be a backlash? Davis seems to think that’s a possibility.

Davis wonders whether all this will have negative recruiting repercussions for the Tigers.

“There’s a lot of guys they recruit in Atlanta,” he said. “People are going to ask: ‘What happened to Ray Ray?’ His high school (Mays High), they’ve got a lot of talented guys coming out of there.”

By “people”, I assume he means “coaches from other schools competing for Clemmins recruits”.

It’s probably a good thing for Bowden that Davis is a senior. I bet he’d be a helluva host for some of next year’s recruits.


UPDATE: The Wiz has some more thoughts on this.


UPDATE #2:  Orson at EDSBS has some good follow up on the story.  As he says, your mileage may vary.



Filed under It's Just Bidness, Tommy Bowden: Male Model

9 responses to ““I kind of feel his pain.”

  1. JG

    1st of all, love the blog.

    2nd of all, what a piece of sh*t. Of all the players on Clemmins, he “cuts” Ray Ray. That is absolutely unbelievable. The guy has lived a rough life and EARNED the scholarship.

    I hope there is significant media backlash!


  2. Tenn_Dawg

    Amen JG!!! I love how Clemmins milks this guy two years ago for all the pub they could get and cut him loose when them need to find a spot for Dwyane Allen. Ray Ray’s story is a great story. I hope he and his brother go on to lead very successful lives.


  3. clemsonfaninnyc

    He has an over $100,000 fund set up by clemson, clemson fans, and alumni. And he’s getting to go to college free, graduate in 3 years. What’s the worry here?


  4. Mike

    lol, the spin begins. I can’t wait til ESPN starts running with this. Should be fun.


  5. JG, thanks for the praise.

    clemsonfan – I admire the hell out of Tiger fans and alumni stepping up to help the kid out. But Bowden is looking at a potentially huge black eye if this plays out the way Davis suggests it happened. It’s too good a story for the media to ignore.


  6. dean

    Reason # 2,896 to be thankful we have a man like Mark Richt as our head coach.


  7. Pingback: » Clemson Hero Ray Ray McElrathbey Is Out of a Scholarship

  8. drmambo

    Its not like he would ever get to play behind Davis and Spiller anyway. The only reason we know who this guy is is because of his brother. If no one made a story about that, he would just be a fourth string tailback who no one knew about.


  9. If he has a 100,000 trust fund or whatever from clemson, then he will not have a problem transferring anywhere.

    Valdosta State could use a good running back. Wait a minute. Did this guy ever even play? During all those ESPN “he saved his brother” moments, wasn’t he always on the sideline? Yeah, thought so. Go to Delta State. Leave the blazers alone.