By Scott Rhymer
We are now less than one week until the start of the 2011 football season. This is a season that has come none too soon. A season that is needed to wash away the bad taste of a 6-7 football season that had more frustrating moments than satisfying moments. A season that was a step back. And a season that caused way too much internal strife in the Clemson Family.
I’m ready to wash away that bad taste. Bad football seasons at Clemson are rare. I’ve sat through only eight losing season in my lifetime. I’ve sat through back to back losses to South Carolina only twice in my lifetime. I think it is fair to say that I (along with many of you) simply are not equipped to handle losing football seasons very well because it is so rare. I am ready.
I’m ready to see Clemson flags flying from cars, trucks, and vans on my way to work on Friday. It is always exciting to watch people who are ready to go see the Tigers play even before a game day approaches. I am ready.
I’m ready to drive into Clemson on a Friday evening for dinner at Sardi’s with good friends and family. Nothing quite starts a Clemson home football weekend for me better than to have a traditional place to eat where the owners, waitresses, and patrons know your name and welcome you back. I am ready.
I’m ready for the First Friday Parade with the pageantry that only the fraternities, sororities, and the Kudzoo Kids can provide. We too often take for granted the unique aspects of Clemson University that so many other schools cannot replicate. The First Friday Parade is a must for any true Clemson fan that has a hard time sleeping before the first football game of the year. I am ready.
I’m ready to watch the sunset on Lake Hartwell with Death Valley in the distance knowing that when the sun comes up the next time it will be game day. I am ready.
I’m ready to wake up on game day to prepare for the Tiger Pregame Show. It is amazing to think we are about to broadcast our 102nd straight Clemson football pregame on location where the Tigers play. I am thankful to WCCP and the Clemson Athletic Department for allowing me to do what I love each week and I am pumped up for what we have in store this year on the show. I am ready.
I'm ready to put on my new game day Clemson shirt. One always hopes that the new shirt is going to bring just a little better luck than the last shirt. I am ready.I’m ready to park in Lot 2 in the same spot I have parked in for 20+ years and renew friendships with those that have been parking with us for many years and to make new friends with those that are new to the lot. I am ready.
I’m ready to smell the grilled meat, fried chicken, and fixings that are unmistakably Clemson. Being with family is something that we all take for granted sometimes. My children get to experience the same things that my mother and father allowed me to experience on a Clemson game day. Passing that Clemson Experience down a generation may be the most enjoyable part of raising a family. I am ready.
I’m ready to hear Tiger Band way off in the distance as they make their parade from the top of campus, around the East Endzone area, and under the North Stands before heading into Death Valley. The faint sounds of Tiger Rag alert me to move towards the North Stand overhang to watch Tiger Band and cheerleaders walk by and get the crowd fired up for the game. I am ready.
I’m ready to walk into Memorial Stadium for the first time of the year and to look down on field and smell the grass. It is the moment we look forward to from January up until that day, and I always enjoy soaking that moment in for just a second or two. I am ready.
I’m ready to see good friends that have sat near and around my lower deck seats in the North Stands for many years. The hand shakes, hellos, hugs, and smiles of familiar faces that we know only to Clemson and at football games creates a sense of continuity that, once again, is integral to a great game day experience. I am ready.
I’m ready to hear the first chords of “Orange Bowl March” as Tiger Band prepares to set up formation for the Tigers coming down the hill. The first roars C-L-E-M-S-OOOOOO-N of the year always bring a chill to my spine. I am ready.
I’m ready to watch our football team hop off the busses absolutely bursting at the seams ready to come down that Hill. From cagey old veterans that have done this many times before all the way down to the young pups who are getting their first chance to be a part of the “Most Exciting 25 Seconds In College Football”; seeing the players at the top of the hill having to be held back by Dabo Swinney and his staff is a chilling moment unlike anything in college football. I am ready.
I’m ready to watch this new offense, full of promise and pace with a bunch of new faces at just about every position minus the offensive line. Watching last year’s offense was frustrating on a good day and demoralizing on a bad day, so the idea of watching the running backs burst through holes and receivers catching deep passes is enough to get the blood pumping before they take the first snap. I am ready.
I’m ready to watch Clemson play a football game that makes us all walk out of the stadium with our chest stuck out with pride. No matter that Clemson is playing Troy or Wofford or Auburn. The sense of satisfaction of playing hard, with fight, and with a winning attitude and swagger can happen any week against any team. And that is what we want to see and feel from this team. I am ready.
I’m ready to shake this cloak of “potential” and “what if” and watch our football program do something that it is way overdue to do…win an ACC Title. This cloak has covered us for far too long (20 years) and we have all made way too many excuses and justifications for why it has not happened. We have a coach that we can all embrace and players that do everything that is asked of them off the field with character and academics. The single piece of the puzzle that has eluded us is that title, scarring an otherwise wonderful University and football program. We can rationalize it a million different ways, but the time is now and our coach deserves it based on everything he has done right since taking over. But, most importantly, we deserve it by remaining loyal (but restless) for that day when we hold a trophy up over our heads again. I am ready.
You can wrap up all of the offseason angst in a bottle and let it float out to sea. 2011 is another opportunity. Another chance. Another hope and dream.
2010 is now officially buried. 2011 is born.
I am ready.
Scott Rhymer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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