Gator Bowl Will Invite Clemson; FSU Fans Are Miffed as the 7-5 Tigers Are Chosen by the Committee

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Byline: GARRY SMITS

The Konica Minolta Gator Bowl will invite Clemson as its Atlantic Coast Conference team today at the school, with the formal invitation to Nebraska delayed until Sunday.

Ronnie Fussell, the chairman of the Tourist Development Council and a member of the Gator Bowl selection committee, told the Times-Union that Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett, selection committee chairperson Kelly Madden and James Noberto, manager of public relations for Konica Minolta, will be at Clemson for a news conference today to invite the Tigers for a record ninth time to the New Year's Day bowl.

Clemson (7-5) had been tied with Florida for the most Gator Bowl appearances with eight. The Tigers will be the first five-loss team to play in the game.

"We're very excited at the prospect of inviting Clemson, and matching them against Nebraska [on] Sunday," Fussell said. "Clemson's fans have always brought a lot of excitement and energy to this game, and we all know what kind of numbers they come in. To have two such legendary football programs in this game will be tremendous for the Jacksonville area, both from an economic standpoint and as a great game."

The decision already has created controversy at Florida State.

FSU was considered the ACC front-runner for the Gator Bowl until the selection committee met Monday and voted to invite Clemson.

The Seminoles finished 8-4, one game better than Clemson, and beat the Tigers during the regular season.

Florida State now is likely to wind up at the Champs Sports Bowl (Orlando), the Music City Bowl (Nashville, Tenn.) or the Mieneke Car Care Bowl (Charlotte, N.C.).

Internet message boards involving FSU, such as Warchant.com, quickly filled with harsh criticism of the Gator Bowl when rumors that Clemson would be invited over the Seminoles began swirling Tuesday afternoon. …