After the opener

I’m not sure how I do it. Every year I get myself excited for the Clemson football season, as if they are going to be undefeated and win the national championship. That’s not really a good excuse, because in 1981 the Tigers were undefeated and won the national championship, yet somehow my check from the school must have gotten lost in the mail.

6-25 Page 4A.inddSo the lesson is that if Clemson is undefeated and wins the national championship, my pay remains the same as if the team lost every game of the season. So why do I get so excited every year?

This season I was really excited. All we needed to do was beat Georgia, somehow upset Florida State, then win the rivalry game against the Gamecocks — a tall order since they have won five straight years against Clemson.

But we didn’t even do the first one. Now upsetting Florida State in a couple of weeks looks unlikely, and who knows what will happen when we play those birds from Columbia. And North Carolina is looking iffy too. And Louisville, Duke, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech are dangerous games.

To tell the truth, I will be nervous when they play S.C. State Saturday.

After Texas A&M embarrassed the Gamecocks last Thursday, I tried to be the voice of compassion. I told my friends who root for the Gamecocks they would still win their half of the Southeastern Conference if they won the rest of their conference games. They could be one of the four teams to qualify for the national championship playoffs.

They weren’t so gracious when Clemson lost to Georgia. It did not matter that national oddsmakers had picked Georgia to win, the story to them was that Clemson lost to a rival from the Southeastern Conference.

And somehow that meant that South Carolina was the superior team. Of course, until the end of the season at least, South Carolina does have the bragging rights, no matter what.

Actually I felt that South Carolina just got caught by surprise. They are more likely to rebound and have a good season.

I guess it says something about me that I have more confidence in my team’s rival than I do in my team. Although South Carolina was favored and lost by the same number of points as Clemson, I’m still worried about how Clemson will survive this season.

I need to learn how to just enjoy the game, regardless of who wins and who loses. The score of the game does not take anything away from the young men who represent the school on the ballfield. This Saturday, I’m going to try something new. I will listen to the game and be happy if either team does well and escapes injury in the contest.

Of course, that is this Saturday. Next Saturday we are playing Florida State, and I will probably set myself up for another heartbreak.