I’ve always liked Clemson; maybe it has something to do with the history of Auburn and Clemson being intertwined. The two schools have much in common from a small town atmosphere, to Samford and Tillman Halls, to Walter Riggs who was influential in bringing John Heisman to coach at both schools.
Track ‘Em Tigers Editor Jay Coulter wrote an excellent piece about Auburn and Clemson’s shared heritage before last year’s game titled, “History Surrounds Auburn Clemson Series.”
But for me it goes further than that. You see my dad’s family are all from upstate South Carolina and of course all my cousins are Clemson fans.
So today as I make my way to the land of my ancestors, I do so with a special game face on. For me the fight is about more than a common heritage; it’s about family, it’s about respect, and it’s about bragging rights at the next reunion. It’s about wrestling my cousin to the ground and pinning him until he cries “uncle.” I know I’m not going to blink and I expect my cousin has the same mindset as well.
Legendary Auburn coach Pat Dye used to say that the ties shared by Georgia and Auburn made the South’s oldest rivalry game like a fight between brothers. Well if that’s the case then the Auburn – Clemson series has to be like a fight between cousins.
Cousins are often people that we share a common heritage with but we don’t see that often. Since we don’t see them that often, we usually are on our best behavior. But football cousins are different. No place for niceties here. And for these two ‘cousin’ schools, we can expect another smash mouth hard hitting close game this Saturday, just like last year’s contest on the Plains.
The 2010 Clemson game was the hardest hitting game all year. Players were constantly being helped off the field. Offensive tackle AJ Green has only just returned to the lineup, after suffering a broken leg in that game nearly a year ago.
The final outcome came down to a field goal kick in overtime and the Cousin Clems left Jordan-Hare Stadium, with the collective breath knocked out of them. Since that night, Clemson has been spoiling for this moment … the time when they can get Auburn inside the confines of their famed Death Valley Stadium.
Yes Clemson fans really want this one. The school announced in the spring that the Auburn game was a sell out; yet right before the season opener they still had tickets available for all other home games including Florida State.
The sold out game and the sounds coming out of South Carolina this week, indicate they believe they are going to win. Of course Auburn will have something to say about that. I see Auburn taking another close victory in this clash of the tigers.
At any rate you can bet the stadium will be rocking when the Purple Tigers run down the hill Saturday morning. And I’ll be there with my South Carolina cousins, pumped and pulling for the Tigers …
The Auburn Tigers that is!
War Eagle, Beat Cousin Clem!