December 16, 2017

How Dabo & the Tigers improved my wardrobe

I’ll never be confused with someone with fashion sense and I’m OK with that. Back in the Tommy Bowden days at Clemson I never gave much thought to what shirt I wore during Clemson football games. Being a non-GQ type, it was generally whatever was semi-clean, not ripped and wasn’t balled up in the corner. After all, it was likely going to be stained, ripped, or lost (oh what a night!) during the outing. Sure, I had some favorites, but those were based on comfort with no consideration given to fashion or the lack thereof.

As Clemson began to get better under Dabo, I found myself drifting more and more toward the dark science of superstition. This disease took hold of me and eventually became chronic. As near as I recall, I was medically diagnosed immediately after what has become to be known as National 4th and 16 Day as Chandler Catanzaro’s field goal split the uprights on the final day of 2012.

There were certain shirts that needed to be worn on game day. Period. Eventually as a loss happened here or there I was down to a shirt, singular, that needed to be ready each fall Saturday and sometimes into January. Don’t even get me started on hats.

I recall being upset when THE shirt wasn’t clean. “How will the Tigers win with this?” I’d frown at my wife, ignore her eye rolls, trudge to the washer and throw it in, even by itself, or, on occasion, when time or motivation was lacking, wear it dirty because, well, if you’ve gotten this far you understand.

For the most part this worked as Swinney built the Tigers into a national power. I happily wore THE shirt, cheered the Tigers as Clemson continued their ascent and excused the occasional loss while gleefully calculating THE shirt’s astronomical winning percentage.

I wore THE shirt as Clemson took on Alabama in the 2015 title game and THE shirt nearly won the National Championship. I couldn’t wait to put it safely away, resting until the 2016 season started and finally be proven that THIS is THE shirt. National Championship material, as it were.

But a funny thing happened along the way. One Saturday last fall (2016) I didn’t put the shirt on. I don’t know why. The Tigers won. Tempting fate, while simultaneously not tempting the worse fate of changing back to the original and the Tigers losing, I neglected THE shirt the next week. Tigers won.

Doubt sometimes slipped into my mind when the score was close, but I stood firm, stayed out of the closet where THE shirt resided and eventually rolled the ultimate dice last January 9. And the Tigers won. The National Championship. Without THE shirt seeing any action.

These days THE shirt is happily retired, I wear whatever I want and don’t give it a second thought. Sure, it’s always orange and/or purple and generally has Clemson and/or Tigers on it, but that’s by choice and not out of necessity or superstition.

Those guys on the field are so good and coached so well they don’t need me to wear THE shirt. Funny how that worked out – the better they got, the less they needed THE shirt.

They might still need yours though.

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