Just When You Thought It Was Safe

I had just settled into not caring about the wares of the Clemson basketball team. I mean, the time comes every year when even the most optimistic begin to allow the reality of the situation to overcome them. I had gotten to that point this season after the embarrassing loss to Yale.

Sure, I was going to keep up with the team and see how they did the rest of the season. But, I was not going to rearrange my schedule to make sure I was sitting in front of a television when the Tigers played.

So last Sunday I had a few friends over to watch some NFL games and conclude our year in Fantasy Football (Congrats Rob). While watching the games, I turned on the radio real low just so I could keep one ear peeled to the Tigers in Atlanta as they faced the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. In between a few cold drinks and silly car commercials, I was being drawn into the basketball game because my beloved Tigers were winning. Not only were they winning, but they were winning on the road and looking pretty darn good. So I rejoiced, and immediately made my plans to go to Littlejohn the next Tuesday to see the Tigers play Virginia. After all, they deserved my support after such a great effort in Atlanta.

Tuesday rolls around and the workday in peppered with the excitement of going to see the Tigers play a top ten team. I race home from work, gather up my 3 year old daughter, and roll out of the driveway on the way to Tiger Town. I arrive in Clemson and I am greeted by a 50-foot pile of dirt outside Littlejohn Coliseum.

After entering the arena, I am treated to a grand butt whipping at the expense of the Virginia Cavaliers as I frolic with 8,000 other Tiger fans giddy with excitement. I leave Littlejohn, take another look at that 50-foot pile of dirt, and I try to envision what a great complex Littlejohn will be after it is completed. I open the trunk of my car, dig under my golf clubs and battery cables, find my Clemson Tiger flag, and proceed to hang it on my window to proudly display my allegiance on the ride home.

I spend Wednesday and Thursday scouring the Internet to find all morsels of information about the Tiger win that I can. I print out the ACC standings and tape it to my office wall, proudly displaying the fact that the Tigers were ahead of Duke in the standings. I start looking at the schedule and try to predict which teams we can beat to try and win 8 games in the league and get into the Big Dance in March. I cancel my scheduled golf outing for Saturday because it conflicts with the game in Winston Salem.

I feverishly work around the house Saturday morning to try and get all things that must be done out of the way before the 2:00 tip-off. Nobody is coming over to watch NFL games this day. No sir, I am going to immerse myself in Tiger Basketball.

2:00 rolls around and I plop down on the sofa in my lucky position with my Tiger sweatshirt on. I'm ready. The first 3 minutes of the game are a shootout. Man, Jamar McKnight is a player. Clemson basketball is fun again!

2:15 rolls around and I sit stunned. 2:35 comes around and I am flat out mad as hell. 2:45 rolls around and I throw the remote across the room in disgust. 2:50 rolls around and I turn the television to the Gamecocks as they find a way to choke an 8-point lead late against Kentucky. 3:15 comes and I could care less what is going on in Winston Salem.

It was a quick, hard fall.

I don't expect much from a basketball team. Really, basketball is a nice diversion to pass the time before spring practice. I want to care, but it has been hard to do so during the 30 years of my life. It really is a relief when the reality takes over and the team throws the season in the tank.

I was at that point one week ago. Somehow, someway, the Tigers sucked me back into their force field with inspired play. I was a born again basketball lover.

And then, almost sadistically, they yanked the rug right out from under my feet. A ten-point loss to a top 25 team on the road? Yes, I could have handled that. I still would have been pumped about the rest of the season had the Tigers played respectably in Winston Salem.

But, they didn't. They got rolled over 96-55 in a game that was not even as close as the score indicates.

Larry Shyatt is a good man and I don't even care to converse with anybody on his fate at Clemson. Seems to be a complete waste of time, because I don't have any say in whether he stays or leaves. But to lay an egg like the Tigers did against Wake is downright depressing…and cruel.

This Tuesday the Tigers play at home against NC State….a game I thought was winnable just 48 hours ago. Now? I don't know.

Will I go to Clemson Tuesday? Don't know that yet either.

I'm not sure I, or my remote, can handle anymore let downs like last Saturday so soon.

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