Credit: © Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: © Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson Fan Day and the Tweet That Started a War

A Blog by Marc Ryan

Offsides with Marc Ryan
August 15, 2019 - 5:14 pm
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I wasn’t expecting to be blown away on Sunday. Over the years, I’ve attended my fair share of Fan Days, and you come to paint a picture in your mind of what you think you’re going to see; team colors, lines for autographs, excitement for the coming season. I’ve been able to experience these at various universities stops in my career, and they’ve served as a fun day of observation. I’ve also come to view them as a point of comparison between schools, and on that note, I need to share this:

I’ve never seen anything like what I witnessed at Clemson last Sunday. On a 97 degree day that felt more like the surface of the sun, over 20,000 Clemson fans swarmed Death Valley for the hope of glimpsing, meeting their heroes. The lines stretched further than the eye could see, but there was no griping or complaining. Everyone was happy to be there.

Clemson University rolled out the red carpet for the event as well. All players were in uniform, the full cheerleading team was present, cool drinks were on hand, shaded pavilions, and more. From 2:30-5pm, Clemson’s football program, players, and head coach gave back to you.

Then, as I was heading to leave, I ran into a respected media member who offered some perspective. I’ll never reveal sources, but if you listen to “Offsides,” you know I’ll bring you behind the curtain whenever possible. This person shared with me the following: “At South Carolina, they do Fan Day for one hour and they give you a small poster. Here at Clemson, they go for a full 2.5 hours in the heat of day, and are handing out thousands of autograph books. They’re national champs. They don’t have to do this, but they do.”

As you can see, I tweeted the above, and the response, to my amazement, was swift and volatile. Make no mistake, I enjoy the passionate response, but it was surprising given that what I shared was seemingly innocuous, to me anyway. I was called a clown so many times that Stephen King has inquired about my availability to appear in his next “It movie, and far worse. A listener this week opined that if you wish to be entertained, “just visit Marc’s timeline and view the comments on his Clemson Fan Day tweets.”

Now having been here seven months, it’s patently obvious to me that Gamecock fans have reached a level of sensitivity Clemson fans possessed six years ago so when the verb “Clemsoning” was in full form. I suppose losing to a rival five consecutive seasons will do that to some people.

Still, the level of vitriol, the name calling, personal insults, etc. from a small percentage of Gamecock fans was confounding to me given that my “crime” was bringing you backstage (as I always do) to share with you an interesting opinion I was told.

None of that did a thing to damper the time I had at the event. I was blown away by many things; the organization, the wonderful afternoon fans were treated to, the friendliness of the players, the commitment and follow through to be there for 2.5 hours, being able to get your picture taken with the championship trophy, even getting to take a leisurely stroll through a relatively empty Death Valley, if you desired as I did.

Observing the line for Trevor Lawrence’s autograph, the commitment from fans in scorching heat without shade, was a site to behold. The commitment to excellence at Clemson University is a complete circle, from the administration to the athletic department, from the athletic department to the football coach, from the football coach to the football team, from the football team to you the fans, and from you the fans back to the program itself.

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