Observer on the Ground: Clemson
Andrew McGuinness | Monday, November 6, 2023
As someone whose lone trip earlier this season to NC State featured a 13-hour flight delay resulting in a post-kickoff arrival and a halftime exit to fly back because of the lightning delay, you can imagine how seeing our flight to Greenville/Spartanburg delayed four hours must have felt. Fortunately, this was an outlier regarding weekend enjoyment, football excluded.
We touched down in South Carolina moments after 6 p.m., greeted by blinding sunlight and surprising chilliness. Even with the win and the impending sunset, it was still a nice change of pace from the snow that coated campus earlier in the week. The ride to the hotel and check-in went smoothly.
From there it was on to downtown Greenville for dinner, joined by our friends at WVFI student radio. The wait at the barbecue restaurant we picked was a bit too long for our grumbling stomachs. But the American-style restaurant we found after a few blocks of brisk walking proved more than sufficient. Bright lights draped on trees and glowing from storefronts created a small-town atmosphere even though there was no shortage of restaurants and shops.
A respectable night’s sleep ended around 7 a.m. Clemson, like Notre Dame, is not exactly easy to find. We decided to take an abundance of caution and depart our hotel around 8 a.m., anticipating the estimated 50-minute travel time would be extended due to traffic. Following an unspectacular but solid complimentary Fairfield Inn breakfast, we hit the road. To our delight, the early departure time indeed allowed us to beat most of the traffic, as we pulled into the media parking lot around 9:15 a.m.
The chill in the air from Friday night lingered into the morning. Even though the high temperature exceeded 70, we could see our breaths in our first moments on campus. Two kind Clemson employees shuttled us the half mile from the lot to Clemson Memorial Stadium. Their guidance was especially appreciated since a heavy fog coated the area as we arrived, eventually departing around 10:30 a.m.
While the main press seating area is located in the open air, we were thankfully able to ride out most of the gradual warming in the indoor meeting area. The cold of the morning was largely gone as we settled into our seats in the front row of the press box with a gorgeous view directly from the 20-yard line on the Clemson side of the field.
Though the environment probably wasn’t at primetime levels of raucousness, Clemson’s in-game presentation was certainly impressive. Speakers from the massive scoreboard, nicknamed “Dabotron” according to our programs, blared throughout the afternoon. The music rivaled the noise made by the pre-game flyover, which never disappoints.
As for the game … well, that disappointed quite a little bit. Clemson fans stormed the field, as is tradition of theirs after every home game, to celebrate Dabo Swinney’s 166th win, the most in program history. We eventually made our way down to the field and navigated the sea of orange to find Notre Dame’s press conferences.
A few hours of producing exhilarating content later, we made the trek back to Greenville. The WVFI gang joined us for the journey this time, as well as the much more fun encore golf cart ride back to the lot. The smooth voyage culminated in a quick stop at a Panera Bread across the street from our hotel for dinner.
With our day already over 12 hours long, we decided to call it an early night and spent the evening doing what every Notre Dame student does to relax on a Saturday night — work. Some good college football — what a novel concept — provided a nice background distraction. The extra hour of sleep thanks to Daylight Savings Time provided a nice boost of rest. The last leg of our trip was the standard fair where no news is good news. We touched down in South Bend around 2:30 p.m. with a weekend of bad football and otherwise good times behind us.