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Strike Up The "Orange Bowl March”!

By Scott Rhymer

It’s finally time.

Game week is here.  Thank goodness for that.

And game week provides a true Tuesday press conference. Coach Dabo Swinney will sit down in front of a splendid backdrop picture of Death Valley with cameras and microphones peering at him. He answers questions, many of them dripping with clichés that in some cases have been asked of him 1,000 times prior. Dabo, the coach of the defending ACC Champion, will start a year on top.  Something no coach at Clemson had done prior to him in almost 20 years.

It’s finally time.

Speaking of the media, game week provides a first chance for something to actually happen on the field instead of in the keyboards of those (including myself) that cover Clemson.  I’m tired of hearing those that make a living pontificating with computers and I am ready to see helmets collide and collisions made.  The game of football was designed to be played on a field by men, not on the Internet by a bunch of wannabes. 

It’s finally time.

New faces and coaches will litter the storylines in the next 5 days.  Much talk has centered around Brent Venables and the impact he will have on Clemson’s defense.  And, up until now, it has been all talk.  Venables, on paper, was a great hire and I am fired up to see what he will bring to Clemson’s defensive mentality.  For a guy that wants to one day be a head coach at a major football program, much of the on field performance by this defense will determine the career path of a guy that looks the part of a head coach.

It’s finally time.

No longer do we have to languish over debates about what funky uniform or helmet Clemson will unveil this year. No sir. That is a debate for those long spring months after National Signing Day. What we have now is a debate about which uniform Clemson will actually wear on the field this Saturday. I know what you purists are saying. Uniform debates are as dumb now as the conversation about uniform combinations was in the Spring. I agree with you. A uniform debate, no offense to the uniform freaks, is weird to hear guys talk about. I am convinced that the same people that start uniform threads on message boards are the same people that invented the woo-hoo.  All that nonsense ends when the ball kicks off on a new football season.

It’s finally time.

Everybody better do a quick inventory of tailgating supplies before Saturday. You never know what piece of equipment is no longer usable since last year. (Hint…this is an excuse to go out and buy something new). I know of a guy that parks in one of those fancy parking lots where you have your own spot, indoor eating areas, and indoor restrooms. This guy, and I kid you not, goes to his tailgate spot the Saturday before the first home game with some buddies and has a dress rehearsal to work out all the kinks. They even bring old Clemson games burned on DVD to watch while they “practice” tailgating. This is obviously much more thorough than doing a simple inventory. Then again, guys getting together to park a car a week before the actual football game is a bit over the top, I suppose.  An added variable this year is the fact that tailgating has to be done in the South’s largest city, a concrete jungle that is about as much like Clemson as a owl is to a grizzly bear.  Best of luck to those of you that pride yourself on immaculate planning and organizing in your tailgates.  A first game plus a road games adds a level of difficulty to your task.

It’s finally time.

This may sound kooky. But there really is something appealing about walking through a game day parking lot with all of the sights, smells, and sounds. I love seeing the first Clemson flags flying on a car zooming down the interstate. I love seeing the early tailgate folks who are up and running as soon as the sun comes up.  I love wrapping up the Tiger Pregame Show and walking to my parking spot, smelling the burgers being grilled as I go. I love hearing those car horns fans have installed on their vehicles that blare the first few bars of Tiger Rag. And I love the C-L-E-M in cadence count cheer.

It’s finally time.

It is hard to surpass the feeling of putting on that new shirt and hat for the start of a football season. It’s about the only time in my life where I understand how my wife feels when she goes shopping. Normally, I’m in the store and out with little to no regard for what I bought. But my game day attire is another thing altogether. I labor over the purchases. Then I take it home and iron it real good. I put the attire on after the car is loaded on game day so not to build up any additional sweat. I feel good in my new gear. The only worry I have is what kind of mojo the new gear will give off. I’m a bit superstitious, and breaking in a new shirt is a really risky move for folks like me.   Last year’s shirt did its job, bringing us an ACC Championship.  But the losses to South Carolina and West Virginia ensured that last year’s shirt won’t get a 2nd try this year.   New shirt is ready to go.  It’s ready to bring home another ACC Championship in addition to a State Championship.

It’s finally time.

There is not a single game that I don’t think we can’t win. There is not a single team on our schedule that is better than us player for player. There is not a single fan base that is more ready for something special to happen.  There is not a single reason to believe that our issues (and we do have them) are greater than any other team in the ACC. 

We spent 20 years hoping for another ACC Championship.  It’s time now to start expecting it.

It’s finally time to stop talking about it and start proving it on the field.

The best part of the day, for me, will be hearing the “Orange Bowl March” crank up as Tiger Band gets into formation to have the Tigers run out of the tunnel at the Georgia Dome.

All of the off-season angst will fizzle away when the cannon sounds and Tiger Rag blares away. So I say, Tiger Band, strike up that “Orange Bowl March”!

I don’t really know how many words have been devoted to preparing for this football season. I would suspect the words are in the millions, and I myself have been guilty of adding to the mass. There comes a time, however, to shut up and play football.

It’s finally time. Thank goodness for that.

Spot the ball.

Scott Rhymer can be reached at

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“The Road To Charlotte Begins With The Tiger Pregame Show”

Article was adapted from previous article by Scott Rhymer in August of 2006 on 

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