Friday, January 20, 2017

Best. Game. EVER.

Can you guess what this post is about? Here's a clue...
In case you haven't heard, Clemson won the National Championship in the most dramatic fashion. And it was insanely awesome. I've been scouring the world wide web and I'm almost at the end; I've been reading every article and blog that mentions Clemson or any of our coaches and players, reading every Facebook post, looking at all the pictures and just reliving that incredible time over and over again. I never, ever want to forget this time. I'm on Cloud 9 and have been since last Monday night. I'm never coming down.

To be honest, I have been struggling with writing this post. It's a bit overwhelming. How can I possibly put into words the experience of the single most important sporting event of my life? Here goes nothing.

For those of you reading this that aren't sports fans, and aren't aware of how passionate we are about Clemson football, here's a comparison - it's like we just won the Academy Award for Best Picture, or won a Nobel Peace Prize or something really monumental along those lines. This is a BIG DEAL to the Clemson Family and Tiger Nation. We are the NATIONAL CHAMPIONS! It's been 35 years (before I was born) since we could say that. It's been a long time coming and now that the Tiger Paw is figuratively "on top of the mountain" it feels great. 

Being there in person at the game was indescribable. Nothing compares. I have no words. All I can think to say is....That. Just. Happened. 

To a rabid Clemson Tiger fan, this game was just so emotional. I started crying when there was :06 seconds left on the clock. Emotions were hitting me because we were either about to walk away with the mass disappointment of a failed epic comeback, or we were going to experience complete euphoria of the most epic comeback. I'm so glad that play went for a touchdown. The stadium erupted! What a feeling. What a night. 

Let's start at the beginning. Prepare yourself for a long post and a lot of pictures. I'm putting in such specific details and even people's names that we saw and ran into there. I want to go back and be able to read this post and remember stuff like I'm still there. That's how I roll.

The game was Monday night. We had tickets (face value!!! Thanks, IPTAY) and a place to stay in Tampa, where my Aunt Trish has a house. We had Fifi, Jerry and MaSha on tap to be at our house to take care of the boys for us. Our plan was to drive down to Tampa on Saturday, spend Sunday sight-seeing and checking out all the activities surrounding the big game and then tailgate/go to the game on Monday with a return trip home planned for Tuesday. Our plans got slightly revised during the week leading up to the game. Greenville meteorologists were calling for snow starting Friday and into Saturday. I think all the Clemson fans in Greenville started getting worried about getting snowed in, or having issues getting out of town with ice and snow and we were scared that we would somehow not be able to get to Tampa safely. Our new plan involved Thomas's BFF Joey driving down to Greenville on Thursday night from Virginia, where he was trying to outdrive the snow/ice that was expected in North Carolina, then for us to get on the road on Friday after work, drive down to Jacksonville to see/stay with my dad and then on to Tampa on Saturday morning. We may have been a little overly cautious about getting out of town, but better safe than sorry, especially when you're talking about a big sporting event, in which tickets were going for upwards of $1,500 a piece! So the new plan was settled. And we weren't the only ones - there were LOTS of Clemson flags headed southbound on Friday night.

We were off...

Joey driving, Thomas in shotgun

We stopped in Orangeburg so the guys could have BBQ at Duke's for dinner and then got to Jacksonville around 11:30 PM. We stayed up a little while with my Dad, catching up and I really enjoyed getting some quality time with him, although I was the first to go to bed out of my Dad, Thomas and Joey.

It did indeed snow on Friday night and Saturday morning. We didn't get a ton at our house but I saw pictures from all over Greenville with plenty of snow and lots of happy kids and dogs. This is my one regret about our trip - we missed out on playing with the boys in the snow. Thankfully, Fifi and MaSha were up for it and got the boys dressed (no, we don't have any official snow gear, but they were able to make do with what we have), and out in the snow for some fun. I really hate that we missed it.

Stokes and William with MaSha
William and Stokes with Fifi
Meanwhile, back in Jacksonville on Saturday morning, we woke up, had a yummy breakfast and then got back on the road on our way to Tampa. It felt like that drive took forever, but we finally got there late afternoon.

Thomas, me, Shanghai, my dad
Jacksonville, Saturday morning

We got settled in at Aunt Trish's house and then got changed up to go out.

Joey and Thomas ready to hit the town

We went straight to Ybor City and walked around 7th Avenue until we saw a fun bar to go into. We knew this place would be fun because we had several friends - Mike and Sara Head, Britta Smith, Austin Brookie, Rachel Workman, etc - sitting right by the window of the bar so we went in knowing that a least a few fellow Clemson fans were there. There were lots of "interesting" people in there, but we got a beer and were hanging out and also ended up running into Taylor Newsom and Michael Thacker. It's so awesome being in a different state and seeing all these people you know from home!

Thomas and me at Gaspar's Grotto
Ringing the bell
Thomas and Joey
Michael, me, Thomas, and Taylor
We weren't able to stay at the bar for long, because we had dinner reservations at The Columbia at 8 PM. While walking back to the restaurant, we ran into at least 1 other person we knew (Harriett Coker) and it genuinely felt like Tampa was a sea of orange. BTW, that's a great feeling.

We had a delicious dinner and were so glad that Clark, Steph and Steph's parents decided to come enjoy dinner with us. There were tons of Clemson people at the restaurant, we ended up making friends with a few tables around us, and there were numerous cadence counts that we heard throughout dinner (this is a large restaurant). Thomas and I had been to The Columbia with Aunt Trish and Mark before and we enjoyed it the second time around, too. I would definitely recommend it to people traveling to Tampa!

Dinner group
Joey, Thomas and me
The guys
Stephanie, Gail, Alan and Clark
On Sunday, we got up and I wanted a little exercise (the guys were easy to convince) so I found a local breakfast place within walking distance and we were off. Did I mention it was COLD in Tampa? We were bundled up but the walk felt great and it was so nice to get some sunshine and fresh air. We made our way to Jet City Espresso and were greeted with really, really friendly service. We were, of course, in Clemson gear so they were asking us about the game and chit chatting with us, and helping us figure out what to order. We were talking to the owner and she was asking where we were from, so Thomas and I said South Carolina, meanwhile Joey said Virginia. Then she asked what part of Virginia and he said the southwest corner. She kept asking for more details - and normally they don't give many because not very many people have ever heard of's easier just to say "near Bristol" - but they drilled down to it and she asked if Tazewell was near Richlands and that her boyfriend was from Richlands. Seriously, Thomas and Joey's chins dropped to the floor. Richlands is only about 15 minutes away from Tazewell. Lo and behold, her boyfriend shows up a few minutes later and it turns out that he was from Richlands but moved to Tazewell during high school and went to THS and graduated a year under Joey and Thomas. The guys spent breakfast talking about Tazewell and all the old places, what has changed and what it's like now. They knew a lot of the same people and it was surreal. What a small world! I love stuff like that!

Jet City Espresso
Joey, Michael Hamoy and Thomas - random reunion!
Ready for the day...with our TIGER RAG
They're so goofy
After breakfast, we took Joey to meet up with a cousin of his that lives in Tampa and Thomas and I went downtown to check out the scene and official National Championship events. We found a parking garage near where we wanted to go and kept circling around until we found a spot without a lot of cars around so that we could easily park Thomas's big pickup truck. When we got into the elevator, I wanted to make sure I paid attention to what level we were on so that we could easily find the truck again later, when I noticed that we were on Level 5...the ORANGE LEVEL. It was totally random but I got a huge smile on my face when I saw that. I felt like it was a good sign.

Downtown Tampa looked like a home game at Clemson on a Saturday in the fall...add in lots of tall buildings. Every other car on the streets had flags flying and magnets displayed proudly. The sidewalks were filled with orange and purple. It seriously looked like Clemson had taken over the city with some Alabama crimson sprinkled in here and there. Thomas and I went to the River Walk and walked around and stopped at a hotel to people watch and get a beer. We, of course, ran into a friend there, because Clemson people were everywhere, but grabbed a table outside. We loved watching all the people walk by and checking out all the fans, what everyone was wearing, where everyone was going, hearing random "roll tide"s and "go tigers"!

Thomas at the River Walk
Nice little afternoon

We made our way to the Playoff Playlist Live area where the concerts were held, but no one was playing at that time, so we just walked around a little. Then we went to the XX Tailgate party, which was really cool. We didn't have much time before we had to be back home to meet Joey, but I wish we would have spent more time at this party. There were games, food and drink stations, and lots of fun photo ops. It was very cool.

Playoff Playlist Live
XX Party
It was about time for us to meet Joey back at Aunt Trish's house, so we had to find the truck on the ORANGE level (so, so easy to remember ;) and went back to the house to change and get ready.

Ready to go out on the town...with our TIGER RAG
Goofing off again
No comment LOL

We were going to try to go to the Clemson alumni party at Yeoman's Cask and Lion, but when we got there (15 minutes early), the line was already about 50 people long and the bar was packed. Change of plans. Apparently all of the overflow bars for official alumni parties were packed as well and it didn't look like we'd get in anywhere, so we found out where Joey Joy was and went to meet him at the Anchor Bar. Guess what...big surprise...we ran into people we knew! These were actually some of the guys that my roommates and I spent a ton of time with at Clemson, especially during our senior year, and I loved running in to them (Drew and Ciuff)! The Anchor Bar was also extremely crowded so after a while, we had to get out of there and we went next door to the Pita Pit to get some dinner. I probably sound like a broken record, but it was all orange in there as well. Lots of Clemson $2 bills were present in the tip jar. Gotta love it.

Downtown Tampa
Seeing Ciuff and Drew at the Anchor Bar
After we ate a quick dinner, we made our way to District 3, where the Clemson Legends party was being held.

Bildergebnis für clemson legends party

I had never been to one of these parties before, but I remember NOT going to the one in Phoenix last  year, seeing pictures, regretting my decision, and vowing to attend next time I was in the same situation. It took just a little convincing for the guys to agree and I purchased tickets in the car on the way to Jacksonville on Friday night. So anyway, the party started at 8 and we got there right around 8 (I didn't want to be late and miss any potential stalking opportunities). There was a line. A long line. Oh yeah, and it was cold. We stood in line until probably 8:45. I don't know why. They apparently weren't letting people inside. I was trying to be a good sport, but I was definitely getting grumpy about it. I still don't have answers to why this happened. Anyway, moving on. We got in and it was a club scene. Lots of lights, a DJ, plenty of bars - it definitely looked cool. We, once again, ran into lots of people we knew, which is always lots of fun. We saw Harold Hughes, Jordan Stephens, Jack Brewster, Jess Lempesis, Taylor Newsom (again), Harriet Coker (again), Jonte Banks, Paige Rostin, hmmm...I'm probably missing others. Lots of familiar faces. Lots of dancing. Lots of beer (for the guys). It was fun. It was a little disappointing through, with the lack of access to the former players. I thought they'd be out and about mingling with all the people, but they spent most of the time in the VIP area. They finally brought them out on stage probably around 10:30. They introduced the players, we did a lot of cadence counts, cheering and clapping, and then Lee Brice performed for about 30 minutes. He's from South Carolina and played football for Clemson so he was a natural pick for the performer for this party! He sang "Hard to Love" and "Parking Lot Party", which are 2 songs I really like, among others. I did get a chance to get some pictures of some of the players and Thomas got my Tiger Rag signed by Brian Dawkins and Sammy Watkins. Also at one point, Jacoby Ford was walking through this crowd and I stalked hugged him and got Thomas to take a pic. Ain't skeered.

Joey and Thomas
Thomas and me
My earring theme for the night was "go big or go home"! ;)
Clemson Legends on stage
Lee Brice performing
With my buddy Jacoby hahahahaha!
Jordan and me

Sammy Watkins
So the party was OK. It was fun but I'm not sure I would do it again, given the chance. I did hear, however, that the party last year in Phoenix was better than this one, so I'm not sure what the difference was. Anyway, we did it and had a good time. We got home around midnight and the guys were ordering a pizza in the uber on the way home and I seriously wish I had a recording of the conversation. Hilarious.

It was then Monday, aka GAMEDAY. I was pumped. Did I mention that I seriously couldn't sleep the entire week leading up to the game?!?!!? I kept waking up at 3 or 4 or 4:30. No joke. I was so excited that I literally could not sleep.

After burning some sweet rolls in the 1960's oven, which we apparently had turned to broil (???), we had to make a quick Starbucks run for breakfast, which was conveniently located very close to the house. I paid in $2 bills, got some strange looks (LOL) and had a nice conversation with a local who was asking me about the game. All in a morning's work.

We got some updates from home that the boys were dressed and ready to pull for the tigers! I love getting pictures of my little tigers when I'm away from home.
Stokes and William
The three of us got dressed and ready and hit up the local Publix to get some tailgating food. The parking lots were scheduled to open at 11:30 and we didn't want to get caught in crazy traffic so we were there close to the time that it opened. It paid off. We got a great spot right near the stadium and on such a convenient corner so it was easy for other people to find us. Joey bought this parking pass during the Fiesta Bowl and although he spent a lot on it, it was a GREAT spot.

Our tailgating neighbor had a fantastic set-up, which created a lot of buzz and made a lot of randoms stop by to check it out. Even the local news came by and interviewed him (he happened to be a former player, a back-up QB named Heath Hewitt and a buddy of his was a former tight end - they both played in the late 80s).

Tailgate neighbor
Our tailgate spread from Publix :)

View of stadium from our tailgate
The news interviewing Heath
Heath and his friend the former tight end
Posing in front of the awesome tailgate!

Our tailgate neighbors on the other side had this
awesome Clemson scooter cooler - anytime
anyone would ride it around it generated lots of laughs
For the first few hours, it was just Thomas, Joey and me, and poor Joey was getting work calls back to back. He seriously spent about 50% of the time in Tampa on the phone. That was kind of a bummer for him. The three of us were just hanging out, snacking, (I re-painted my nails LOL), people watching and making friends with other tailgaters.

Poor Joey on the phone
At one point, we went to the porta potties and walked by the ESPN broadcast, which was pretty cool. Then I ran into Lauren Kell, Katherine Smith and Sam McKay, my Chi O friends, there as well as Mike Lowe and Jack Brewster (again). Back at the tailgate, I kept waiting for the vibe to pick up and sure enough, it did. First, Clark, Steph and Alan arrived. FUN times.

ESPN broadcast

Clark and Thomas
Then Josh Murray from The Bachelor, and brother of former UGA QB Aaron Murray, shows up at our neighbor tailgate, so of course, I had to chat him up and take pics with him. He was very gracious, pretended like he wasn't pulling for Bama (totally being PC and I could tell), friendly and easy to talk to. That was kind of a highlight! HA! Then, Carole, Corey, Susan and Rick came by. YES! My Tribe! We did our own thing at this Natty, but I was texting with them and missing them the whole time. My trip seriously wouldn't have been complete without seeing them. At some point later, Center Jay Guillermo's uncle came by with a banner he had made for Jay and he wanted tiger fans to sign. We, of course, took part and got pics with Jay's uncle. It was like, all of a sudden, our tailgate was THE place to be! We were having a blast! We decided around 5:00 to leave though and go into the official National Championship tailgate to check it out and see Dierks Bentley perform.

Carole, me, Corey, Bachelor Josh and Susan
Steph and me
And with her Dad!

ACC rings worn by a former player
Corey - Bling Bling
Me - Bling Bling
Combining tailgates for a big pic!
Jay Guillermo's banner

Signing Jay's banner

With Jay's uncle
Time to go in to the big tailgate!
Me, Carole, Cason and Corey
We ran into some more friends there...surprise, surprise. We saw Russell and Stephanie. We saw Wayne Gallman's Mama (from afar), the Van Giesons, Scott Pagano's parents, Bonnie, my NICU mama friend, and my work bestie, Stacey! She and I had also been texting quite a bit and it was finally time that she and I crossed paths. Dierks Bentley sounded great and although we didn't stay very long, the tailgate was lots of fun! I knew that the doors to the stadium would open at 5:30 and I wanted to get in there early, just like last year. I didn't want to miss a bit of the action. We probably started walking toward the stadium around 6 or so.

Thomas and Joey with the helmet
Thomas and me with the helmet
Wayne Train's mama
Dierks Bentley
Bonnie and me
Joey, Thomas and Russell - former Clemson roommates
Me, Thomas, Russell and Stephanie
FINALLY saw Stacey!
Ready to start walking in!

On the way into the stadium, we just happened to be in the right spot at the right time to see the Clemson buses pulling in. You should have seen all the people out there cheering and yelling. It was awesome. The windows are tinted/wrapped so we couldn't see inside the buses or the players, but I hope they felt inspired after seeing all of us there supporting them and cheering them on. We were waving and having a great time.

Buses pulling in
Extreme close-up (we were very close!)
From inside the stadium ramp

And you cannot even tell me that God isn't a Clemson fan when you see a sunset like this while you're walking into the National Championship game. I mean, come on. DESTINY.

We got to our seats in plenty of time to see the warm-ups and on-field action. I also got to participate in the KKG picture. I was the youngest person there by at least 5 years, and I didn't know any of the other alumni, but was glad and proud to show up and participate. ;)

KKGs in Tampa

We saw Buck and Sheilah Baker down there in the concourse and got big hugs and then I saw Jenee Davis, my buddy. She's the daughter of Jeff Davis, currently on-staff and a team captain of our 1981 National Championship team, and her twin brothers currently play on our team. She's a Clemson gem and her family is a Clemson football dynasty.

Jenee and me
I saw so many people that were sitting in the same section, or nearby to us in the stadium, including Connie and Greg. I ran up to talk to them briefly and saw Brandon Saltmarsh a few rows up from there. I saw Jenn and Chris Bryant walking up and down the stairs, saw Brad Horne from a distance and the most random part of all, David Haseldon was coincidentally sitting right next to us. He'd gotten his tickets from a buddy of his and he just happens to be a very close friend of Tara and Matt in Charleston! 75,000+ people in this stadium and we're sitting next to a friend. Again, it's such a small world. Speaking of 75k+, we apparently set a new stadium record for attendance in Raymond James Stadium. Sweet!

ALL IN walk toward end zone after warm-ups
The boys were there with us in the stadium!!!
The picture of the boys on Thomas's phone

Team Entrance

Little Big Town was there to sing the National Anthem and we had three airmen parachute down with the Clemson flag, Alabama flag and the American flag, which was really cool. There was an awesome fly over with this huge dark planes that were so stealthy - it was crazy. We couldn't hear them until they were right over us. Clemson won the coin toss and chose to defer.

Little Big Town
Peyton Manning!
It wasn't very obvious on television and the broadcasters didn't make note of it, from my knowledge, but let me tell you first hand, it was COLD on the night of the game. The wind was blowing and maybe it only affected those of us on the upper deck, and although the thermometer was registering something in the 50's, it felt much, much colder than that. To put it in perspective, I was wearing a cami, a cuddle duds long sleeve shirt (I put it on during half time), a 3/4 sleeve sweater, a hooded sweatshirt, and a down vest, with a scarf and my hood over my head...and was still cold. Even Thomas was cold and y'all, he's never cold. Enough about the weather....

The first half of the game was also cold. Our defense started out with a strong 3 and out, but other than that, and Deshaun's first half touchdown, I was not feeling too good at halftime. It felt like we were getting thrashed. But thankfully, it was a tale of two halves for this particular game. At halftime I went down to the concourse to meet Stacey, and put my cuddle duds shirt on, and it felt like halftime was over in a flash.

The second half was definitely better. We were able to move the ball on offense and had more good defensive stands. The Clemson crowd, which had been quieted for much of the first half, was getting rowdy again. There were fireworks that went off whenever either team scored, but the real fireworks of the game came in the fourth quarter. We were furiously trying to come back from our point deficit and then Alabama seemingly put the nail in the coffin with a touchdown with about 2 minutes left on the clock and were 3 points up on us. That didn't stop Deshaun, who marched down the field. We knew we had to at least get a field goal to send the game to overtime, but no one wanted to do that! We wanted to regulation. The seconds were ticking down and time was running out. I remember we were all yelling for the coaching staff to take a timeout with less than 30 seconds on the clock, but it just kept running. Anxiety was high and tension could be felt. I should have known that those coaches and players knew what they were doing. With :09 seconds left, Deshaun threw it to Mike Williams in the end zone but the Bama defender got in the way and pass interference was called, which put the ball on the 2 yard line. Great to have a few yards, but we lost 3 seconds on that play and the clock was at :06. We were all mad about that penalty because it took what was most valuable right then - precious time! Before the last play, I was praying so hard. I knew we only really had one chance left. If it was a really quick play, we could potentially still have a second or two to try to kick a field goal to tie it up, but we just really, really wanted a touchdown. I was praying, praying, praying. Lame, I know. I should be praying for more important things, but at that time, I was praying my heart's desire! Tears started springing to my eyes. I know this play would go down in Clemson history, I just didn't know what sort of emotion it would bring with it. When Deshaun rolled out and hit a wide open Hunter Renfrow who ran straight into the end zone, that stadium erupted with Clemson fans. It was 35 years worth of pent up emotions that got released in that second. The tears really started coming then. All I could think was, "We did it!!!!" There were so many hugs, cheers, high fives, tears; it was truly insane. We had finally climbed the mountain and dethroned Alabama.

But wait, the game wasn't over then. There was still :01 second left on the clock before we could officially become the champions. Sweet revenge was ours when we kicked and recovered and on-side kick (you may remember that Alabama's on-side kick in last year's championship game "turned the tide" so to speak and changed momentum in the game that we were winning and we ended up coming up short by 5 points). I believe our on-side kick was reviewed (I haven't gone back and watched the game in its entirety yet....but I will!!!) and then the very last play was a victory formation that will be etched in my mind for decades to come.


The scoreboards were flashing National Champions and purple and orange confetti started streaming. I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I had a hard time focusing on everything that was going on around us. Music was playing, Clemson fans everywhere were rejoicing, it was such a special moment. I loved staying there and watching the trophy presentation and we got to hear Deshaun (offensive MVP), Ben Boulware (defensive MVP) and Dabo speak. They all spoke from the heart and it touched each and every one of us. Christian was dancing...I love him. It was just incredible to witness this moment. Something that each one of those players had dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. All of us fans were just on cloud 9.

Deshaun getting interviewed
Thomas and Joey celebrating!
Christian dancing!

Holding that trophy up!
Rece Davis and Deshaun
Ben Boulware
I loved his speech!
Connie and Greg on their way out

Once the celebration came to a close, the band did their tradition of playing the Clemson alma mater. The players had started making their way to the tunnel and back to the locker room, but as soon as they heard those sweet sounds, they came running to the corner of the end zone closest to the band to participate in the singing of their alma mater as National Champions for the very first time. So, so cool. The pride pouring out of everyone there was palpable. Here's a video you can watch if you want to experience that moment. One word: chills.

Alma Mater

At that point, we were ready to take our happy selves on home. Walking out of the stadium there were endless cheers and cadence counts and we barely had any voices left. We made our way to the the car, and got home without much traffic. Awesome. And you want to talk about a good night's sleep? This girl got one!

Two happy (and emotional) Tigers!
Scoreboard!!! 35 - 31
Best. Game. EVER!

Best buddies

Tuesday morning, we got up, high as a kite over our win and new football title of National Champions, got showered, packed, sheets and towels washed, grabbed some breakfast and got on the road back to Greenville. It was crazy on the road - so much traffic. But you know what was cool? A majority of the traffic was Clemson cars. There was orange everywhere. The passengers in the cars would wave to one another or hold up a #1. We were all part of this fantastic, insanely happy, orange-clad Clemson family. Seriously, the whole way home, all 10.5 hours of it, with traffic, included lots of Clemson cars headed home right along with us. We spoke to and high fived other fans at lunch, made "friends" with other Clemson people in their cars and in general just basked in our happiness.

Clemson traffic

I spent much of the time in the car reading every single article I could find about the game and I read a few of them aloud to the guys. We were finally on top of the mountain!!!! It felt (and feels) so good!!!!

It wasn't just that we won the football game. That was awesome, don't get me wrong, but it was the WAY in which we won it. We did it right. Our team had fun along the way. Our QB, Deshaun Watson, who is NO DOUBT the nation's best player and proved it time and again on the biggest of stages, was passed up for the Heisman trophy two years in a row but fought back and showed everyone that he is, indeed, the BEST. He's our GOAT...Greatest Of All Time. I truly believe that. Hunter Renfrow, the undersized (5'11", 168 lbs) receiver who made the game-winning touchdown catch, was a walk-on who worked his way up to a scholarship and proved that he is consistent and dependable, won MVP in the hearts and minds of so many people. Did I mention that in his two national championship games against Alabama he has 17 catches for 180 yards and 4 touchdowns?!?!? Oh yeah, and he also made a crucial "tackle" on an Alabama defender when we fumbled the ball in our own territory and he saved a touchdown that we were able to defend and turn into an Alabama field goal. Amazing. And what about Dabo? Our beloved head coach who was promoted 8 years ago from a coordinator to interim head coach to head coach, well he is incredible. He wins by getting the players to believe in him, believe in Clemson and believe in themselves. He talks over and over again about LOVE. The love that these players have for each other and the love that he has for each and every one of them. This man should be a preacher in another life. He's so inspirational and Clemson Nation adores him. Here's his quote from before the game. He told the players:

"Let the light that shines in you be brighter than the light that shines on you."

Perfection. Don't you just love that? I sure do! He's a master at coming up with these one liners and I eat them right up. Every. Single. Time.

So yeah, that just happened and it was the best game EVER. That's not just my opinion; I read several articles saying the same thing. ;)

Getting home on Tuesday night was amazing. We missed the boys so much while we were gone! They were so, so excited to see us! They were squealing and hugging us. So much love!!!

Clemson family
So silly!
So very, very proud of our Clemson Tigers. I'm going to miss this senior class and will be glued to my tv on draft day this spring.

I'm so grateful and appreciative to have been there in Tampa, at Raymond James Stadium to witness that game, that time, that moment. And very thankful for Fifi, Jerry and MaSha for holding down the fort at home for us so that Thomas and I could travel and not worry about the boys. This experience could not have been any better. I don't know whether Clemson will get to the CFB Playoffs again next year, or the year after that, but I don't think it will be another 35 years before we bring home another championship. And when we do, I want to be there to once again witness amazing Clemson football history.

With that....I'll leave you with this....


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