I’m going to preface this column with a statement, a disclosure, if you will, so that all of you know where I stand and know where I’m coming from before you read any further: I am a Tiger fan.
Having said that, let’s talk about that nasty opening weekend and how disappointed I am, not only in both of our major colleges’ performances on the field, but more by the behavior of everyone who happens to be a Gamecock fan or Clemson fan.
And chances are I’m going to give both group a piece of advice … for what that’s going to be worth.
I was born and raised in Anderson (reared for some of you) and have been a Tiger fan all of my life. For a long time I was one of those guys who would have pulled for the Russians or Communist Chinese against USC but somewhere along the way I figured out just how ignorant that really is.
All it took was working as a college sports broadcaster to realize that the success of one program is dependent on the success of the other … look across the country and you will see where there is a rivalry between consistently top ranked teams the recruiting for both is always better.
But, beyond that, I am getting to the point I am almost ashamed to be associated with many of the fans on both sides of this thing … and many of them are my friends, for now at least.
What was at one time a fun, rib-jabbing good time has turned into this nasty ugliness, verging on the personal and I have to admit I have had almost as much of it as I can stand. People I have always been close to all of a sudden become these strangers who are more than willing to cast aspersions and doubt on one’s family history in the name of football fandom.
What happened to you people?
When did the performance of an 18-22 year old man, or group of them, become the validating portion of your life? What did any of you do whatsoever to earn the right to claim any kind of victory or provide you with a platform to explain away a loss?
When was the last time you ran a single sprint, lifted a single weight, or endured a single three-a-day practice? When did you do anything other than buy a ticket or a jersey?
I suppose what I want to know is, what went wrong? Does no one else see how this is getting out of hand?
I won’t go so far as to say ALL of you, because there are some of us who do have lives and actually don’t need this validation, but most of you have become … and yes, I am going to say it … no better than soccer hooligans.
I know some of you who haven’t spoken to family or friends following this last weekend’s debacle of a start for Clemson and Carolina in 2014, all because, number one, Carolina fans couldn’t keep quiet headed into the season and had all but raised an SEC East banner only to be embarrassed by Texas A&M.
Tiger fans weren’t any smarter, immediately taking to social media and cell phones to crow long before Saturday night arrived. We didn’t do any better just in case you missed it.
Back when the bulk of these players came from the state, it mattered. Now they’re from all over the country and the fact is, most of the kids on the sideline, other than having the scholarship, have no loyalty to you or the school. They want to play on TV, win bowl games, and reach the NFL and, except for a few with local ties to the state, they could care less about the rivalry and only want to win.
Things have gotten way out of whack and I have to say it’s almost too much to even deal with anymore. It’s almost come to the point I don’t even enjoy it and that’s sad, for me at least.
In closing, if you’re a Gamecock fan and think I wrote this because Clemson lost, keep reading. If you’re a Tiger fan and disapprove, I don’t care.
Before the season started I told anyone who bothered to ask, Tiger or Gamecock, don’t get too excited, don’t run your mouth, and just wait … they’ll both be lucky to win nine games.
That’s when the lynch mobs began to form outside my home and that was in June. I can’t even imagine how unbearable you’re all going to be by November.