By Liam Smith | College of Charleston
If you consider yourself a fan of college football, you are most likely familiar with The Palmetto Bowl. The Palmetto Bowl is the annual matchup (war) between the University of South Carolina Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers. Having lived in South Carolina all of my life, I can tell you for a fact that this matchup is not a matter of losing, but a matter of life and death. With death in mind, let’s focus on former Clemson kicker Jad Dean, whose football career was truly murdered by one single play in the 2006 Palmetto Bowl. Coming into this game, Clemson was busting at the seams with confidence. Clemson had come out of the past four rivalry games victorious and were 7-2 in the previous 9 years against the Gamecocks. Before this 2006 game, Dean had posted a more than stellar college career. Playing with the Tigers, Dean was named Clemson’s special teams player of the year, established the single-season record for field goals with 24, was a runner-up for the Lou Groza award, and received multiple ACC special teams player-of-the-week honors.
Good ole’ Jad really did seem to have a promising career going for him. That is, until what Clemson/Carolina fans call, “The Kick,” happened. With 13 seconds left in regulation of the 2006 Palmetto Bowl, Dean was called upon to kick a game-tying 39-yard field goal. In most likely the worst moment of poor Jad’s life, his kick sailed wide left, returning possession to the Gamecocks and allowing them to kneel out the clock for the win. You might think hey, it’s just a game of football, but that is most likely because you aren’t a fan of either or these two teams. Within 24 hours, Dean was sent death threats and being publicly ridiculed. While he definitely had the potential to be an NFL-caliber player, that miss severely hindered his scouting report, as well as his own attitude towards football. After graduating, Dean took his talents to the “elite” world of indoor football. He received a starting spot on the Greenville Force, a former team of the Southern Indoor Football League that was located just 30 minutes north of Clemson, SC. Dean played with the Force for two years until the team disbanded in late 2010. After a brief stint with an indoor team in Concord, Dean officially ended his football career. He has now turned to a life of Christ (I don’t blame him) and works with the New Spring Church organization. If you feel like hearing the story from Jad Dean’s own mouth, check out this link, but be warned, it is truly depressing to see the shell of a man he has become. He claims “Wide Left” saved his life, but sounds like a classic case of loser denial to me.
Other Fun Facts:
-Blake Mitchell, the Gamecock QB in the 2006 Palmetto Bowl was Jad Dean’s Teammate on the Greenville Force indoor team.
-Ryan Succop, the Gamecock Kicker in 2006 went on to have a great NFL career and currently plays for the Titans.
-Beyonce “To the left, to the left” references will always be funny when talking about Jad Dean.