Pick Yourself Up And Play Clemson Football
By Scott Rhymer
This is the greatest rivalry in college sports. Don’t tell me otherwise. There is no other rivalry in this universe that impacts you and me as much as Clemson vs. South Carolina.
Others will tell you that games in other parts of the country are more respected than Clemson and South Carolina, but I am not hearing any of that nonsense. Alabama and Auburn mean nothing to me. Michigan and Ohio State mean nothing to me. Florida and Florida State mean nothing to me.
I care only about Clemson University. And the only team that is on our schedule that occupies 365 days of my year is the University of South Carolina. When media members write that this rivalry means nothing they obviously write that from the same position as I would write about Auburn/Alabama. That position is called ambivalence.
Clemson vs. South Carolina to you and to me is far from ambivalent.
So we stand this week as a program that has a bloody nose. Keep in mind; we earned that bloody nose by walking into the sliding glass door as if we did not know the door was shut. We got that bloody nose by playing soft and whimpy in Raleigh to a team that had more pride in what they were doing than we did.
Some Clemson fans feel like they are walking through déjà vu under the Tommy Bowden era. Some Clemson fans have temporarily jumped off the boat. Some Clemson fans, rightfully so, are sick at the way our football team played last week in Raleigh.
I can’t change Raleigh. Dabo Swinney can’t change Raleigh. And our players can’t change Raleigh. I can only hope that Dabo Swinney and our football players recognize what a dreadful display of Clemson football was put forth last Saturday night. As they watched the film from the game, I’m sure it was obvious.
But, in all honesty, we are not going to know for sure if we have that pride until we see what type of mentality our team puts forth in Columbia. The players can say whatever they want in the press conference today, but the proof will be on the field in Williams Brice Saturday night.
Football is not complex, regardless of the fancy names of the plays, the crazy hand signals, the coach’s headsets, the vast amount of time watching film, and the in-game adjustments that are made. All of that is window dressing to what football really comes down to at its root.
Football is a simple game of who is tougher. Who is more of a man. And who wants it more.
It really is that simple. And the NC State Wolfpack were tougher and wanted it more than Clemson last Saturday night. And the result was the bloody nose that we received that is leaving a funk over Rivalry Week as we get ready to hit the road again.
Our coaches can’t coach any harder. Our fans can’t scream any louder at the games. Our donors can’t give any more money to IPTAY. Our administration can’t pay our coaches any more. None of those things will help us when we walk into Williams Brice Stadium.
The only thing that can make the trip to Columbia a better experience than the trip to Raleigh is the Clemson football players making a decision to man up and play football.
And when I say man up, I mean the complete opposite of what you did in Raleigh. It is easy for me to sit here behind a keyboard and tell our players to man up. I was not blessed with the size or the strength that it takes to excel in football. So my job, and the job of our fans, is relatively easy compared to the young men that put on those uniforms every Saturday. They have to lay the blood and sweat on the field while we sit in the stands or in our homes in front of the TV watching without working.
So I clearly recognize that the hard part of football is walking out on that field and laying it on the line like a good football player does. And I also realize Clemson can’t win every game. To be honest, I don’t mind losing a football game when I know we show up like men and play football like a Clemson program should. But that ain’t what happened in Raleigh and that ain’t going to work in Columbia, either.
Legends are made in rivalry games. Legends are made because we remember games like this. People won’t remember what you did against NC State but will never forget what you do against South Carolina.
And trust me when I say our players don’t want to be remembered for getting whipped physically against South Carolina. As embarrassing as last week was, you could multiply it by 10 if you lay that kind of egg in Columbia.
So do you want some good news? The good news is that our players are better and tougher than what we saw in Raleigh. I know it because I have seen it. Not last week in Raleigh. But it is there. That pride is there…trust me.
So I am asking that this Clemson football team pick itself up off the mat and play Clemson football on Saturday night in Columbia. If playing like a man is not enough for us to win Saturday night, I’ll walk away with head held high giving credit to South Carolina. From there, I can only hope to win the next week in Charlotte for a conference championship. Very few in Clemson Nation will criticize any football team that lays everything on the line and comes up short because they ran into a better team or a team that caught a couple of good breaks during the game.
But what is not acceptable is playing like we did in Raleigh. That is not only an affront to our manhood as a football program; it is not what Clemson football is about. Perfect we are not. But we are better than what we showed in Raleigh. Much better.
Young men in orange, pick yourself up and play Clemson football this Saturday night. If you do that, you will earn the respect of Clemson Nation. If you don’t, you will lose in Columbia and be forever remembered in a way that you don’t want to be remembered. Our fans were with you after the great wins vs. Auburn and FSU at home. Our fans were there to welcome you back from Blacksburg and from College Park. Our fans were there not just because you won the football game. But because you gave everything you had and laid it all out on the field like a Clemson football team should.
Believe me when I say Clemson Nation is still behind you. The wounds from Raleigh will heal when the turkey from Thanksgiving enters our belly. Our fans will roll down I-26 cautious, but fired up. When you look up into the stands Saturday night you will see a bunch of orange ready to do our small part to help you win the game against our greatest rival.
I believe (as many other Clemson fans do) that we are more like the team that beat Virginia Tech in Blacksburg than the team that lost to NC State in Raleigh.
And we are about to find out on Saturday night.
Broadcast time in Columbia will be 1:45-4:45. If you have not done so, download the free Tune In App for your Droid or Ipad phone so you can stream WCCP during the season on your phones. You can also search for the new WCCP 104.9 FM App on the Droid/IPAD market place on those systems. The App is free and allows you to stream WCCP on your phone.
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