A Lost Clemson Ring Misses ACC Championship Game
By Scott Rhymer
Panic is an overused word. We often say football players panic when the game is on the line. I feel pretty safe in saying that a football player’s version of panic is not equal to someone on the front line of Normandy Beach in June of 1944.
So when a lifelong Clemson fan described this past Saturday afternoon’s experience as “panic”, you have to place that in perspective to the big picture. Then again, those of you that have worn your Clemson class ring since the day you walked across the stage to get your degree may relate to the panic of losing that ring being more like D-Day than that of a football player in the last moments of a game. At Clemson, we take our class rings very personally.
Last Saturday started very similar to most Saturday game days for many Clemson fans, including the man that would lose his Clemson ring later in the day. An early rise from bed, mainly because of anticipation, and a hurried morning of gathering items for the tailgate, last minute errands, and a quick departure from home timed almost down to the minute for desired arrival in Charlotte.
The Clemson class ring that was wrapped on the finger of this long time Clemson fan was in route to Charlotte with its owner for a busy day that would hopefully end a 20 year drought of ACC Championship futility for our Clemson Tigers. This ring was one of thousands of Clemson rings on thousands of fingers of Tiger Alumni traveling from all corners of the southeast that would converge on Charlotte and perch inside Bank of America Stadium as a witness to Clemson playing for an ACC Championship. Clemson fans, and their Clemson rings, had seen many things over the years.
But as this one Tiger fan walked into Bank of America Stadium, he felt naked. As the Tigers entered the field to the thunderous roar of C-L-E-M-S-O…..N at the end of Tiger Rag, he still felt something was wrong. As the 1st half ended, the excitement of the game was muted by a feeling of something simply not being right.
He couldn’t put his finger on what he was missing or why he had this empty feeling.
Then, it dawned on this long time Clemson fan what had nagged him for several hours leading up to the game. This Clemson fan was indeed (in non-literal terms) naked. Standing in Bank Of America Stadium watching Clemson explode in the 3rd quarter this Tiger Alumni stared down at his right hand and realized that his Clemson ring was gone. A quick check of pockets proved futile. A frantic search of the area under his seat and surrounding seats turned up nothing but cups, nacho cheese carriers, and an orange pom-pom.
The Clemson ring, officially, was gone. Lost. The how or why was irrelevant at this point because the ring was no longer on the finger. After all of the years, the memories, the life changing moments, the great Clemson games, and the awful Clemson games…the ring was gone.
So as the seconds ticked off the clock in Charlotte the joy of victory had just a bit of remorse. That ring had been a part of so many Clemson battles and to think it was lost forever was a sobering moment. The ring that many Clemson alums can attest is more of a part of them than the diploma from Clemson that hangs on the wall was gone from his finger.
For those of you that do not own a Clemson class ring, you probably tuned off this blog long ago. You may think of a Clemson ring as an object…a hunk of gold. For most of you that have a Clemson ring and wear it every day, you can understand my panic last Saturday when I realized that my ring was gone.
My ring had been through so many ups and downs it would take days to recall all of the places the ring has been with me. Just this past summer, the ring was on my finger when it was recognized in Munich, Germany by a fellow Clemson alum.
But this Saturday evening, still basking in the afterglow of an ACC Championship, my thoughts were not only about the satisfaction of our team winning a title, but also about all the Clemson events that me and my ring had seen along the way.
For three days following the game on Saturday, I scrambled. I called Bank of America Stadium. I looked painstakingly in my truck to see if somehow the ring had slipped into a crevice. I called WFNZ to see if anyone had seen the ring at The Doghouse where we broadcasted the Tiger Pregame Show. I called the Charlotte Police Department to see if someone had turned it in.
Because my name was inscribed inside the ring, I kept hope that someone would find the ring and try to locate me. I called the Clemson Athletic Department hoping that a good Clemson fan found the ring in Charlotte and reached out to Clemson to help locate me.
Tuesday passed, no ring was found. No leads. No hope.
So, when I answered the phone from my good friend and co-host Will Vandervort Wednesday evening, my Clemson class ring was a distant memory mainly because I had already buried the hope that it would be found and returned to me.
I answered the phone.
“Scott, this is Will. Are you missing something very valuable to you?”
All of my angst about losing the ring and those memories that the ring had with me in my life and in Clemson games was now washed away. Will Vandervort was the hero. As Will would explain during the phone call, he opened up the radio equipment case on Tuesday evening to set up for a remote he was hosting for WCCP. At the bottom of the case, my Clemson ring sat.
I suppose I was in a hurry after the show last Saturday and rushed to put the equipment away. The ring must have slid off my finger and, by a great stroke of fortune, landed inside a case that would house WCCP equipment that would eventually be used by my co-host.
Relief about my ring being found is selling the moment short.
So now I have a new problem. I have always had a bit of superstition inside of me. If we start losing a football game, I change seats. If we are winning, I try to repeat the same pattern in pregame as I did the previous week. If we lose a game, I change what I wear and my game day routine as much as I possibly can. Yes…I am superstitious.
So, for the first time in 20 years, we won a game that crowned us champion. And my Clemson class ring was not on my finger when it happened, instead sitting at the bottom of an equipment case about 500 yards from Bank of America Stadium. I must admit, I wondered to myself if the ring being off of my hand during the game for the first time in forever had something to do with us breaking through last Saturday.
Did my lost ring play a factor? Common sense says no….but my superstitions wonder out loud.
All I can tell you for fact is I lost my ring Saturday and I am thankful for Will Vandervort finding it. I can also tell you that the one game I did not have my Clemson class ring on, we did something that eluded us for twenty years.
My Clemson class ring sat in a case outside of Bank of America Stadium last Saturday while the crowd cheered and our Tigers prevailed. The ring that had been with me for so many games throughout so many years was not with me the one game that we won an ACC Championship.
Panic is now gone, thanks to Will Vandervort. Superstition now reigns.
Scott Rhymer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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