Observations After Attending the Clemson Game

  • I have no basis to make the comparison, but the thing that comes to mind in describing Clemson is like getting called up from Triple-A to the major leagues. The environment at Clemson is the real deal (and much different than road trips to UConn or South Florida, for example).
  • As I’m sure was obvious on TV, the weather was perfect. Sunny and a not-a-cloud-in-the-sky 80 degrees. Perfect.
  • Clemson has a really awesome tailgate scene. It was clear that the tailgating had been honed and perfected over the course of several decades. There were numerous lots all around the stadium – many of them were actually on grass where cars would park and tables/tents would be set up. Our tailgate location was adjacent to Clemson’s basketball arena (Littlejohn Coliseum) and about a 3-5 minute walk to the front gate of the football stadium.
  • A Clemson fan told me that Littlejohn will be undergoing a renovation in 2015-2016 and that they’ll be playing their basketball games in Greenville that year in the former Bi-Lo Center.
  • The Clemson fans were nice. Like really nice. I would estimate that 25 different folks went out of their way and came up to us at some point during the day with comments/questions like, "Welcome to Clemson," "We’re glad you’re here," "Are you having a good time?" "How do you like it?" and other similar comments. At one point, I actually was thinking that they must be being fake-nice. However, I really think they’re simply trying to execute a plan of having visiting fans leave thinking "wow, Clemson is the toughest place to play in the country AND they have the nicest fans." If that was the goal, they succeeded.
  • Clemson has a very interesting elite booster club called IPTAY (which I understand originally stood for "I Pay Ten (thousand) A Year"). There were lots of signs for special IPTAY parking and other special accesses and amenities. It was sort of like having status on an airline. Not a huge deal, but pretty interesting.
  • The stadium itself was rather basic (ie, way less "fancy" than Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium) but had some very cool features. The Hill was awesome and the student section essentially filled the endzone and wrapped around the first part of the Clemson bench side. The Clemson entrance was awesome with all of the players getting off of the bus behind the Hill. In particular, once the players all came down the Hill, folks were rolling up the red carpet and it was cool to see the students literally shadowing the carpet rollers down the Hill in order to get the best seats in the front row middle of the endzone.
  • OK, so this place was LOUD. Like unbelievably loud. It was a very interesting dynamic though. When UofL had the ball, the Clemson fans ALL stood and yelled loudly before every single snap all game long (and, if there was any doubt from the TV coverage, this was VERY loud the entire game). However, when Clemson had the ball, everyone sits and makes absolutely no noise. Silence. Honestly, it seemed like an opera or a symphony when Clemson had the ball. On offense, Clemson fans would only really cheer after a good play – otherwise silence. I feel like PJCS often has the crowd cheering pretty loudly when UofL has the ball to pump the players up.
  • Clemson had a variety of "go to" cheers and the student section did a ton of synchronized stuff during the game (eg, Jump Around, "I Believe That We Will Win" chants, etc.). In other words, UofL needs to develop some more cheers to supplement the C-A-R-D-S stand-by.
  • Clemson fans were very cordial at the end of the game and multiple fans approached us to shake hands. I’m really curious to see how folks would have acted if UofL scores at the end and wins. I’m confident fans would have been cordial – but I would have just liked to have seen it to prove it.
  • We stayed in Clemson for a while after the game, but there was crippling traffic around the town. Apparently, it takes 2 hours to get out of the stadium area if you leave by car right after the game.
  • It’s hard to describe why, but I feel like UofL and Clemson will develop a natural rivalry. Again, it’s just a feeling but I’m expecting some very intense basketball games at Clemson and a good football and baseball rivalry. Not a perfect comparison, but sort of like how Rutgers became a surprising and unexpected rival to UofL in the Big East.
  • Numerous Clemson fans commented that they were planning to make the trip to Louisville for next year’s game and were looking forward to it.
  • Without hesitation, I would put this in the "Must Attend" category for all UofL fans in 2016. It was awesome. Like I said earlier, the Clemson scene is the "real deal." Honestly, I’d score it a 10/10 for (a) hospitality, (b) scene/experience and (c) intensity during the game.