CLEMSON - Clemson's loss to Georgia Tech in the ACC title game not only cost the Tigers a BCS bowl, it put them on the road for Christmas.
The Tigers conducted their final on-campus practice Tuesday before leaving for Nashville; Georgia Tech will spend New Year's in South Beach.
"It's a business trip," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "It's something we talk about, you'd rather be home on Christmas but that's not the way it is."
Swinney said he will make the most of the stay in Nashville, using the trip as bonding experience, noting "this is family, too." He also plans to take the team to the NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers on Christmas at LP Field, where the Tigers will play Kentucky on Sunday in the Music City Bowl. The lesson: the game, pro like college, requires sacrifice.
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Clemson will hold practices each day in Nashville through the Dec. 26.
"The night of the 24th, we'll have a big Christmas Eve dinner and I think some of the seniors are going to perform," Swinney said. "We're going to have a nice, festive evening. It'll be a special night.
"The Opryland Hotel is a beautiful place. We could be at a lot worse places. You just remind these guys that they are fortunate to be able to do what they do."
Waiting game. Many Clemson fans are anxious to hear junior safety DeAndre McDaniel's decision on whether to forego his senior year for the NFL.
McDaniel has submitted his paperwork to the NFL's advisory board, which will give him a draft grade. McDaniel has until Jan. 15 to make a decision.
McDaniel has said he will leave early only if he has a first-round grade.
Still, the prospect of a rookie salary slotting system - and less money - awaits the class of 2011 should it be included in the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement.
McDaniel is the biggest threat to leave among Clemson juniors, though left tackle Chris Hairston had a solid season at a premium position. NFL Draftscout.com rates Hairston as a seventh-round prospect. Defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins is ranked as the seventh best defensive tackle among juniors.
What can Brown do for Clemson? A number of playmakers depart the Clemson offense following the bowl game, but Swinney is excited to see what Jaron Brown can do with more playing time.
Swinney acknowledged Brown fell out of the picture after Xavier Dye emerged as a steadier option. Still, the staff says Brown's run-after-the-catch touchdown against Coastal Carolina is the kind of play that is typical of Brown in practice.