In a day where things like strength of schedule, rankings and perception creeps into our conversations, some may wonder why Clemson schedules these smaller teams?
These smaller schools, particularly, South Carolina State, need games like this. The large pay out basically funds a large portion of their Athletic Department. However, there’s are a few things of even more importance.
First, there was a day when Clemson was in their “cleats.” A small but proud “lesser” team that played with heart. Through luck, perseverance, sheer will and determination, Clemson has risen from their small beginnings to heights unimaginable all those years ago.
I have several dear friends that attended SC State and know they are as proud of their University and their Bulldogs as the Clemson faithful are of their Tigers. There’s an almost sacred bond we fans share with “our”teams and each other, it’s almost like a brotherhood of sorts.
Secondly, these young men from SC State relish and enjoy the chance to play in the type of environment that Clemson’s Death Valley offers. It’s not to say they don’t want to win, but they accept certain realities and just derive joy from the experience. Their competitiveness is balanced with the benefits of the greater good in playing in such a huge game.
With the Tigers, big games are commonplace, and fans tend to just take those type of games for granted. However, not these young men, they know their chances to be in such a match up is rare. It’s like buying a lottery ticket, the anticipation, the excitement of the possibilities, the dreams of “what if’s” despite impossible odds…it’s fun.
Tomorrow, two teams will play in Death Valley in front of 83,000 fans but only one will be the victor and most know who that will most likely be. However, there will be two teams playing, each for difference reasons but both will play the game in that competitive spirit that makes College Football special. In short, in a game like this, nobody loses and everybody wins.
Bubby Pugh, his staff, and especially his team deserves and has earned the respect of Tiger fans everywhere. Contrary to some folks beliefs, these aren’t “wasted games” they aren’t “patsies.” It is an example of the beauty of College Football. Regardless the outcome, It’s going to be a great Saturday in Death Valley.
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