Reporter's Notebook: Clemson should be ranked No. 1

I'd assume many folks would take issue with that headline at first glance, especially if it were to be a reference to Saturday night's dramatic back-and-forth battle between the Cards and Tigers, but it is not.

In fact, it's not a reflection of my thoughts on the game at all.

Rather, it speaks to that term we hear so often: Southern Hospitality.

The city of Clemson, its University and  fan base have perfected hospitality. From the moment our crew arrived in Clemson on Thursday evening, we were met with plenty of love, mainly from Clemson fans.

They take pride in their beautiful campus and an even bigger stock in making sure visitors and their fans have an experience like no other.

We heard plenty of stories from U of L fans on how friendly and inviting Clemson fans were. One Clemson fan asked Sports Director Kent Spencer if he had ever been in an environment like Saturday night and wished Kent an amazing experience, which he definitely had.

Another Clemson fan, who was tailgating next to Joey Wagner and his fellow U of L fans, took them on his boat across the lake to the game because he didn't want them to walk.

If you saw my fan piece for the Cardinal Countdown special, you'll remember Gil, the guy in the custom-made orange suit and the BYOG chain. He made us smile not just with his eye-grabbing threads, but with his personality. He even took photos with a Cards fan in a rubber Cardinal mask.

Other Clemson fans in the same tailgating area made sure Heather Fountaine and I had everything we needed to get our job done and stay hydrated. They embraced the U of L fans who were set up right next to them, engaged in a chant battle, then invited us into their group photo.

After the game, one Clemson fan asked me how well we were received and I told him we had an amazing time because of the hospitality. He responded in turn, "I'm glad you did and I can't wait to come to Louisville next year."

I got a sense from the U of L fans I interviewed after the game it was the PEOPLE of Clemson that took the sting out of not winning such a close game. How often does that happen in sports?

I must say, being the son of a mom and dad who were born and raised in South Carolina along with much of my extended family, I'm not surprised by the folks in Clemson. The Palmetto State just has good people and Clemson University proved that.

At this point, in my experiences, I have yet to see anyone rank higher.

 


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