Tiger fans are not really like any other
What is it about Clemson Football that makes it so different from others?
In going through the history of Clemson Football over the years, there is one thing that stands out to me above anything else. It is Clemson’s passionate fan base.
I know some people might argue Clemson fans are no different than any other group of fans in college football. Alabama fans are passionate. Ohio State fans are passionate, and you can go on and on. However, the difference between Clemson’s fans and those other schools is the size of its alumni.
Let’s not forget, Clemson was an all-male military school until 1955. When my stepfather went to school there after the second Great War, there was less than 2,000 students at the time.
Of course, Clemson’s enrollment has grown through the years, especially after it became a university in 1964. However, Clemson’s living alumni may not totally fill up Memorial Stadium today. Also, Clemson University is not known for having thousands and thousands of alumni that are doctors and lawyers, yet IPTAY, Clemson’s athletic fundraising organization, is one of the biggest in the country.
So, small alumni base and one that is relatively not considered a rich one, yet IPTAY is one of the nation’s best. Why? Because of Clemson’s fan base.
I think, it has something still do with Clemson’s strong military heritage. Even today, 65 years since it no longer classified itself as a military school, Clemson still relishes and promotes its military heritage. If you don’t believe me, walk around campus and tell me if you don’t see its influence.
When I was growing up, my stepfather did a great job teaching me about Clemson’s military past and how important Clemson was to him because of it. That love and passion for the university has been passed down from generation to generation and now, even, with students coming from different states and backgrounds, Clemson makes it a point to teach them to understand Clemson’s rich history and past.
The Clemson Ring is one way its alumni connect with one another.
The other is through their passion for Clemson Football. When the Tigers travel, you see the influence. Clemson people travel well, especially to bowl games.
George Bennett’s $2 bill tradition is a great way of recognizing that. The Tigers’ faithful literally stamp their presence with $2 bills stamped with Tiger Paws floating all through the bowl city’s economy.
In San Francisco, who hosted the 2019 College Football Playoff Championship Game, Clemson fans outnumbered Alabama’s. They did the same in Tampa, too. Chris Fowler evened pointed that out in the 2017 CFP Championship broadcast when he said, “It sounds like Death Valley in here.”
Though LSU fans severely outnumbered Clemson in last year’s title game, because Baton Rouge is a 90-minute drive to New Orleans and the entire state of Louisiana pulls for LSU, the 25,000 or so Clemson fans that did make it into the Superdome were very loud and made their presence known.
Clemson fans are loyal, and they are loyal as anyone in the country. Clemson is not an easy place to get to. It’s not like Columbia, S.C., which is centrally located in the state and is no more than two hours from any point. Also, Columbia has close to a million people living in its metropolitan area.
Clemson is a small town, just a little more than 17,000 residents. Greenville is a 45-mile drive, and Columbia is a two-hour drive. However, those coming from the Charleston and Pee Dee areas have to drive at least three and a half hours to make it to Clemson for game day. And they do.
On football game days, Clemson will have more than 100,000 fans in town for the game. It swells to be the third largest city in South Carolina on game days. Even in the down years of the 1990s, they still packed 65,000-75,000 fans into Death Valley on a regular basis.
So, it is the Clemson fans that make Clemson different than most places. And they make Clemson a destination all college football fans want to experience at least once.
Clemson fans, now is the time to support the local businesses.
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