By William Qualkinbush.
By William Qualkinbush
Clemson’s 38-35 victory over Georgia was a chance for the university to present itself to the nation at-large. In every way, shape, and form, Clemson responded.
The hype certainly did not begin on Saturday. In fact, based on the stakes, Clemson was the epicenter of the college football universe for months leading up to the weekend’s contest. But the campus was put on full display all week, and the response of Clemson’s people—both inside and outside the program—could pay big dividends down the line for Tiger football.
“We’ve gotten phone calls from all over the country from recruits that say we’re now in their top list,” Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. “That’s great to know and great to see, and that’s the way it should be. This is a very special place.”
A national television audience got to see many of the key features of the campus. Gems like Bowman Field—the site of “ESPN College Gameday” for an unprecedented four-hour broadcast on Saturday morning—and the Botanical Gardens were prominently displayed. The tailgating atmosphere was uniquely captured throughout the day and even during the game.
But the main event was the in-depth look at the process by which the Tigers get to and run down the hill. Complete with a back-story told by sideline reporter Heather Cox, Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit narrated the trek from the locker room to the busses and around the stadium to the top of the hill.
Morris was on that bus trip and says he watched the whole shebang afterward. He said the emotion of the experience must have made an impact if people at home could feel what he—along with the coaches and players—felt awaiting the sound of the cannon.
“I’ve come down the hill last year and the year before, so I’ve done the experience, but obviously not with a crowd that crazy,” Morris said. “I was amazed as well when I came down the hill.”
During the game, the Memorial Stadium crowd was in a frenzy. Morris said that helped the team during the game, and he also said it seemed to impact the thoughts of recruits all across the nation.
“You knew it on the sidelines. You felt it on the sidelines,” Morris said. “To see our crowd and our student section, that was special. That was really special. Our guys really appreciated that. They’re just glad they did their part to get going.”
Morris noted that the players played with an extra-sharp edge because they wanted to reward the crowd. He applauded the fans for being actively engaged in the victory.
“We’re glad that we could hold up our end of the bargain,” Morris said. “The crowd did their part. From the time we got off the bus until the time we got home at about 4:00 in the morning, they did their part. Their efforts and their energy did not go unnoticed.”
Morris says he expects the crowd to provide the same type of advantage for this week’s game against South Carolina State. Tiger Nation has a pretty big act to follow for that to come to fruition.