Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Clempson Anecdotes - "Touch that Rock son!"

Okay, so I promised to clarify a little. But as I sat down to type this out I realized that there was more than one post here. So let's make it into a series. That's something I learned my second junior year of blogging school.

The year was 2003. Georgia had renewed its rivalry with Clemson and once again the Tigers had been disappointed; losing by a Billy Bennett field goal in 2002 and getting absolutely outclassed a year later. But even more importantly Georgia was creating some traditions under new coach Mark Richt. One of these was the Dawg Walk. With a renewed sense of energy in the tackle football program after an impressive SEC Championship run, the Dawg Walk (where the team is dropped off on Lumpkin adjacent to Clark Howell Hall and the Tate Plaza to enter the stadium amid thousands of fans, the Redcoats, Hairy Dawg and the cheerleaders) was starting to draw good numbers. Add to that the fact that South Carolina* was in town and the fact that it was a big time night game and the atmosphere was electrified tenfold.
Thomas Davis make Charlie go BOOM!! (via)

Mrs. Bernie and I had decided to take in the Dawg Walk prior to taking our seats in the stadium. New to this tradition we got there late and had to stand about six deep as we waited for the buses to arrive. While doing so there's really not much to do except people watch and listen to the band hammer out songs that enliven the crowd even more. A group of guys had gathered in front of us and in the middle one of them was wearing a Georgia helmet. At first I thought that he was quite the superstitious fan to wear headgear on such a hot day. But then again, this was well into an afternoon where many beverages had been consumed around campus. Judging from their behavior they had enjoyed their fair share. Perhaps even more.

Prior to the team coming through, a large group of recruits were escorted in and I kept hearing a familiar phrase. "TOUCH THAT ROCK SON!! You know you want to!" My ears had to be deceiving me. Why would a Georgia fan tell a recruit to touch Howard's Rock, the chunk of granite Clemson players grope as they enter the stadium? How drunk was this guy?

As the scene played out and I gathered more context from the friends around him I began to realize that this Georgia fan was actually a Clemson "grad" who had surely lost a bet in Death Valley two weeks before when Greene, Gibson and Pollack had dismantled the Tigers 30-0. He was now paying the price by being paraded around in Georgia gear for everyone to see and take pictures of with their brand new flip phone.

Or was he paying any price at all? He knew a lot of the recruits by name it seemed. And here he was not so subtly recruiting for a rival program, at least in terms of recruiting trails. The novelty of the sight grew to the point that some of these kids acknowledged him and smiled. Why were his buddies letting him get away with this?!?

On the other hand, we beat them 30-0. And it wasn't even that close. This clown probably should've taken Charlie Whitehurst's place. Wouldn't have done any worse.

*I think it was the Gamecocks. But my memory could be failing me there.