It’s the end of an era at Clemson

It’s the end of an era at Clemson


It’s the end of an era at Clemson


I have a lot of great memories from working with Tim Bourret and Sam Blackman the last 15 years

At the end of business today an era in Clemson Athletics will come to an end.

After a combined 76 years of service, Tim Bourret and Sam Blackman will have worked their last day at Clemson as full-time employees.

Tim has been working at Clemson since 1978 when he came from Notre Dame. What he thought would be a two-year tenure, turned into 40 years of service where he is forever a Clemson Tiger more than he is a Fighting Irish.

Sammy started working for Clemson’s Sports Information office in January of 1982. His first assignment was cutting out all of the newspaper stories from the 1981 National Championship season and putting them in a scrapbook to preserve the magical year.

As I documented on this same platform already, Tim and Sammy have so many great stories and memories from their days at Clemson. However, this column is of my memories of two of the best the sports information business has ever known.

I grew up reading Tim’s game notes. As I have written about many times, Tim and Bob Bradley played a big role in why I became a sportswriter. I read those game notes every week and I studied them almost religiously.

So when I started covering Clemson in 2004, it was honor for me to be working with one of my heroes. I know people can use that word loosely sometimes, but Tim is one of my heroes. He influenced me even when he had no idea he was doing it. Trust me there are others in my business who share my story as well.

However, my fondest memories of Tim will be the three years I worked with him at Clemson. As a member of IPTAY Media, I got to ride along on plane and bus rides with him and my friend Phil Sikes on basketball trips and of course the football games.

Getting to sit next to Tim in the press box on road trips was a treat for me because he always had these stats he would pull out of his head and he would tell me before he told anyone else. From time to time, I might throw one out that I remembered from studying all of those game notes and Tim would look it up to verify and he always let me know I was right by saying, “You are correct!” I did not always do it often, but I always loved it when I could contribute to a game note.

Even when I went back into the mainstream media, I would still approach Tim about a stat I found or thought of that could be helpful in the game notes and when he used it, I was always so proud. It was always cool to hear Dabo Swinney use some of them in his press conferences the following week.

My best Tim moment came a few years back just before a Swinney press conference. I was talking to Tim, when former TCI staffer Hale McGranahan approached me about a stat. When Tim isn’t around, some of the media guys learned I have this sick knowledge for knowing Clemson football history off the top of my head.

I guess Hale did not see Tim sitting there so he asked me a question about Clemson football. I replied by pointing to Tim and saying, “Why are you asking me when Clemson Google is sitting right here?”

Tim just smiled and said to me, “Don’t worry, Will. You know your stuff.”

‘Wow!’ I thought to myself, ‘Tim just gave me the best compliment I ever had.’ I will never forget that moment.

I have all kinds of memories with Sammy, who has become one of my dearest friends. Sammy befriended me back in my Newberry days when an old student worker of his, Foster Senn, told me I needed to reach out to Sammy so I can get on Clemson’s media list as it pertained to getting more Clemson sports in the local newspaper I was at.

Sammy was Sammy. He was very gracious and he went out of his way to help me. When I called Sammy, we would talk for hours about Clemson sports. I always appreciated those phone calls.

When I started covering Clemson, Sammy went out of his way to help me. He introduced me to so many people that I am still friends with now. Sammy got my foot in the door at Clemson and I am forever grateful for his help.

Sammy and I have shared so many memories just hanging out joking and laughing. We have had lunch at Goobers, the Esso, Sardis and pretty much everywhere in Clemson. We have traveled to Atlanta together, with his sister Karen, countless times as well as to Charlotte, Greensboro and the Raleigh-Durham area. I have great memories of all of those trips.

However, the best memory I have of Sammy is when he asked me to help him write the updated version of Clemson: Where the Tigers Play. It was honor that of all the people he knows, Sammy asked me to help. I will never forget that day.

I am still humbled when I look at my bookshelf every day and I see our book. I look at the spine of the book cover and my name sits there alongside Clemson legends Chuck Kriese and Bob Bradley, and the best Clemson historian of them all, Sam Blackman.

The good news, this is not goodbye. I’ll get to see Tim and Sammy in the press box and around Clemson as they both plan to hang around and help the new guys out with football, basketball and things of that nature. It will only be in a part-time basis, of course, but I’ll be able to add some more memories nonetheless.


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