It was dubbed the best game of the college football season and it certainly did not disappoint. The (then) Number 3 Louisville Cardinals entered a Death Valley that takes no prisoners. While the game may not have ended in the Cardinals favor, the experience was one fans will never forget.
From tailgates to a perfect southern college town feel, the second you roll into Clemson, South Carolina, it is clear these folks don’t play when it comes to Tiger football. Orange and purple tents line the campus and the surrounding streets for miles. Almost every tailgate has a sign attached to the tent, “The so-and-so Family Tailgate.” At first I thought the family tailgate signs were only for decoration. But after spending a good 45 minutes trying to find friends in lot six, I realized the signs are not only adorable, but completely necessary.
Clemson fans spare no expense when it comes to tailgating. Every tailgate had a spread of food that would rival a Golden Corral buffet. Each table was lined with a Clemson tablecloth and had fancy football themed centerpieces with gorgeous fall flowers. Many tailgaters not only have amazing spreads, but they have extravagant party busses decorated in Clemson colors from floor to ceiling. I’m talking purple leather seats and Tiger paws painted on the ceiling. And Clemson fans don’t just bring one television to tailgate. Oh no, they bring multiple TVs to watch multiple games at one time. Louisville tailgates are awesome, but this was unlike anything I have ever seen.
Clemson gets an A+ in tailgating.
Anyone who went to Clemson two years ago for the first matchup between Louisville and Clemson at Death Valley came home raving about the southern hospitality provided by Clemson fans. Last year, Louisville fans were all but threatened to provide the same southern hospitality to Clemson fans as they experienced game day in Louisville.
Arriving in Clemson, I was a little skeptical. I couldn’t tell if the hospitality was genuine or fake. The past two years, Clemson fans did not see Louisville as a threat. But this year, the Louisville Cardinals stormed into Death Valley as the number three team in the nation, riding a huge wave of hype from national pundits and touting the Heisman frontrunner in quarterback Lamar Jackson. This year, Clemson fans were admittedly scared.
For the most part, Clemson fans were extremely courteous. The southern hospitality is real from the older fans. But as always, you have a few younger fans that are flat out rude. Special shout out to the college-aged guys who rolled through Red Rage Tailgate like they were celebrities and about knocked over the bar while talking major smack. Twice.
For the most part, the fans I experienced while tailgating were extremely hospitable. I was welcomed to Clemson at least 100 times. However, once inside the stadium, the bad fans came out. The nice southern gentleman sitting next to me was disgusted with the bad mouthing Clemson fans. He said he was a Clemson season ticket holder and the fans running their mouth were NEVER at the games. But they showed up in full force for Louisville. He apologized several times. From Bobby Petrino motorcycle jokes to booing Louisville’s hurt players, the group of fans sitting a few rows back from me was obnoxious. Special shout out to the college-aged guy in a purple sports coat that was ten sizes too big and an orange tie. Yes, Louisville fans know what’s about to, “hit us.” Louisville plays Clemson every year. Oh, and your motorcycle/neck brace jokes were not original or creative. We’ve heard them all before. We deal with UK fans on a daily basis.
While the majority of the Clemson fans were extremely respectful and nice, it was the few bad fans that put a bad taste in my mouth.
Unfortunately, I have to give the Clemson fans a C.