I’ve spent the past several days, like many of you, preparing for Christmas. Traveling to visit family, procuring all the food to prepare our family Christmas dinner and catching up on holidaymovies. All special times but now, unencumbered by little else, my focus is back on Clemson. There’s a big week ahead.
First, I’m a traditionalist, I’m an anachronism, like a dinosaur. I understand my opinions aren’t in step with many others, I accept and respect this fact. However, today, I’ll share mine.
I’ve read the stories of all the bowl game opt out’s by future wannabe NFL millionaires. In this wacky time in college football, where some superstar players have numerous opportunities to get rich in college, a scholarship is little more than a means to an end. A three-year hoop they must jump through.
Understanding this is the “me” Generation, the participation trophy generation, I’m sickened but it is what it is, I get it. Those that opt out have a commitment only to themselves, not their team or teammates. No, they mean little to the stars. For them, it’s only about stats, hype, money and “Me.” Thank god for those precious few places where the program’s culture is bigger than just a gifted few.
Clemson is one of those precious few, thankfully. This year, without playoff appearances, headed to “just anther meaningless” bowl, I cringed at the thought that Clemson, whose roster has been hard hit with injuries and escapes through the magic human vacuum, the portal, might become even more depleted with opt outs. However, character, team and sportsmanship aren’t just words at Clemson, they’re the foundations of Dabo Swinney’s culture. It what sets them apart, it makes Clemson special.
I’m excited to see the Cheez-It Bowl for many reasons. First, it’s the last game, and filled with all the excitement and angst that accompanies change. It should be very interesting. There’s a chance to have a 10-win season and to enter the long, offseason upbeat to morph this team into a team with a new energy, realistic expectations and a clean slate.
Then, the opportunity to play another opponent the team has never faced, Iowa State. The Cyclones, in a way, mirrors the Clemson of a decade ago. There seems to be something special about Matt Campbell and his Iowa State Cyclones. They are a worthy, talented foe. I really consider them, from all I’ve read, a team I’d be proud to call my second team. Like the Tigers, they aren’t in that “blue-blood” fraternity of college football. They too, have a ROY bus There’s is Garnet, Gold and Black.
Sure, the rest of the bowl games are out there everywhere. I’ll watch with only a passing interest but come Wednesday afternoon at 5:45, I’ll be parked in this armchair. Not only to watch the game but to get some small glimpse of this team’s future. The pieces are in place, hope runs deep and the culture, this splendid culture, that fosters team, sportsmanship brotherhood and commitment, is there. Even with all the change and struggles of 2021, it’s still an especially great time to be a Clemson Tiger.
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