Rating The 2005 Clemson Football Road Trips
|2005-04-25 11:32:46.0- -||
A year removed from possibly the best away schedule in the history of Clemson
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football, Tiger fans are stuck with few great choices for road trips in 2005.
2004 saw Tiger fans travel half way across the country to College Station, half
way to Canada on the trip to Charlottesville, and three quarters the way to Cuba
on the trip to Miami. Thrown in the trip to Tallahassee, and it was almost as
good as it could get.
The 2005 road schedule is not “bad” in the true sense of the word, it’s just a
disappointment compared to 2004. And in a world of relativity, this year’s road
trip schedule pales in comparison overall.
Clemson fans are notorious for traveling better than anyone in the ACC, and as
good as just about any group of fans in the entire country. A small portion of
Clemson fans actually travel to all of the away games, something that I have
been surprised to notice my last two years doing the Pre-Game show.
But a sizable amount of Clemson fans try and pick at least one game to attend on
the road each year. Of course, many Tiger fans have been to all of the towns
that are represented on the 2005 schedule. But for those of you that have not
been to some of these places, I’ve tried to put a mini-guide together to help
you choose the road game that is best for you to attend this year. Here is my
#5 September 10th
College Park, Maryland
College Park is situated less than 30 minutes outside of Washington, DC on a
heading towards Baltimore. The 55 year old Byrd Stadium is located on the North
Hill area of campus and has hosted the Queen of England during its lifespan.
Byrd Stadium seats 51,000 fans and has recently been updated with new restrooms
In all honesty, you have to dig pretty deep to find anything good about the
trip to College Park. If you have never been to the District of Columbia, it’s a
great opportunity to see some sights in the Capital on a Friday before making
the short drive to College Park on Saturday. Otherwise, that’s about all I can
say good about going to a game at Maryland.
Plenty. The fans are rude, obnoxious, and at times violent. Maryland fans have
always been different in that they have more of an NFL mentality than
traditional southern ACC schools. But their recent success under Ralph Friedgen
has turned a bad group of fans into a terrible group of fans. Even pleas by
their President and Athletic Director for better behavior at sporting events
have gone unheeded. In short, they are (overall) a nasty group of fans to sit
down at a football game with.
This would be my last choice for a road trip for Clemson fans in 2005 unless you
live in the northern Virginia or D.C. area.
#4 October 13th
Raleigh, North Carolina
The 51,500 seat Carter-Finley Stadium sits in the center of North Carolina and
is easily accessible from just about anywhere. The Raleigh area has plenty of
nightlife, lodging and restaurants to keep traveling fans busy.
Like College Park, it takes some searching to find the good in traveling to
Raleigh. The whole premise of the “Textile Bowl” has all but vanished in recent
years as the textile industry has taken massive hits. But it still is an
opportunity for old friends in the textile business to meet up and tailgate
prior to the game.
N.C. State fans have taken on the persona of their head coach in recent years,
which is not a good thing. Once regarded as fans with the most in common as
Clemson fans (they are an agricultural school at heart), the trip to Raleigh has
become increasingly less attractive. The Thursday game this year is also a huge
negative for fans traveling from outside of the triangle area. This will be the
2nd straight away game in Raleigh that has been on a Thursday night, which just
kills the work-week for the average fan.
State fans are not as bad as Maryland fans, but they are gaining as the years go
by. With the game on Thursday night, you really have to have a flexible work
schedule to pull this trip off.
#3 November 19th
Columbia, South Carolina
The 84,000 seat Williams Brice Stadium resides in the heart of South
Carolina in a city that is easily accessible from anywhere in the state. The
annual rivalry game with Clemson always draws a sell out crowd, and you will
find upwards of 20,000 Clemson fans in the stadium during the game. While
Columbia is relatively low on the list of places to visit for an SEC school,
seeing 2001 once in your life is something that all Clemson fans should do.
It is THE game, so having an opportunity to go is hard to pass up. For
anybody living in South Carolina, it is an easy trip into the area. As heated as
the rivalry can be on the Internet, the games themselves are less threatening
for visiting fans than you might think. That can possibly be attributed to the
fact that you see so many mixed tailgates scattered throughout the parking lots.
And, as much as we hate to admit it, we have a ton of friends that pull for the
Gamecocks which makes for a fun day.
Columbia, itself, is not a very attractive destination. Parking in Columbia
is a nightmare and can lead you to some of the seediest areas of the city. If
you are not in the Clemson section of Williams Brice and IF Clemson is losing,
it could be a nasty experience. Then again, Clemson has lost in Columbia only
two times since 1979.
If you have never been to the rivalry game in Columbia, this trip moves up
to #1 on your priority list. But if you have been there and done that, don’t
revolve your entire season around going to Columbia at the expense of not taking
#2 October 1st
Winston Salem, North Carolina
The 31,500 seat Groves Stadium nestles on the beautiful Wake Forest campus
in Winston Salem. Travel time from Clemson is less than four hours, which makes
coming and going to a game at Wake a day trip if you want it to be.
Tickets to a game in Groves Stadium are always available for Tiger fans.
Often times, Clemson will have more fans in the stands than the Demon Deacons.
Parking is great in Winston Salem as Clemson fans typically take over the
Lawrence Joel Coliseum parking lot, turning it into a Clemson tailgate area from
one end to the other.
The size of the stadium and the apathy of the Wake Forest fans can be a
negative to some, although that does not bother me. Winston Salem is a sleepy
town with not much night life for travel fans looking for a good time on a
Friday night or after the game on Saturday.
The last taste of Groves Stadium from 2003 was unpleasant, but even in that
whipping Clemson fans were treated very well by Deacon fans. This trip being so
high up on the list may surprise some, but it really is a trip that I have
enjoyed each time I have gone. While disliking UNC or State fans is easy, Wake
Forest fans are likeable enough in their nerd-ness that it can make for a great
day. This would also be my #1 pick for Tiger fans who want to take their
children to the game because of the laid back atmosphere and ample walking areas
around the concourse of the stadium.
#1 October 29th
Bobby Dodd Stadium at Grant Field is located in one of the truly unique
places for major college football as the stadium is dwarfed by downtown Atlanta.
Newly expanded to 55,000 seats, Bobby Dodd can hold ample amounts of visiting
team’s fans in the end zone upper deck.
To start with, the trip to Atlanta is a short drive for folks in the state
of South Carolina. Obviously, the city of Atlanta provides all kinds of
entertainment selections for fans as well as plenty of accommodations for fans
who want to make it an overnight trip. The newly expanded stadium offers Clemson
fans the opportunity to buy as many tickets as they want. In fact, Clemson had
upwards of 12,000 fans in Bobby Dodd Stadium two years ago when the Tigers
whipped the Yellow Jackets. The MARTA transit system can get you to the stadium
with ease and can help you avoid much of the Atlanta traffic on your way out
after the game.
Traditional tailgating in downtown Atlanta can be a challenge to say the
least…mainly because there are few traditional tailgating areas to park at. Many
Clemson fans will tailgate in cement parking lots near the stadium, at MARTA
stations outside of Atlanta, or at the various restaurants and pubs in the
Techwood area. Walking through a deluge of ticket scalpers in Underground
Atlanta or at MARTA stations can also be annoying…especially considering most of
these folks are pushy.
This is the number one trip of 2005 because of the variety of things you can
do on your trip to the game. Atlanta has something for everybody and every
taste. It’s an easy day trip for most Clemson fans, but it can be a weekend
getaway if you choose because of all the things to do in the Atlanta area.
Tickets in the Clemson section are now very easy to get, and you can rest
assured that plenty of Tiger fans will be in attendance. All in all, it’s just a
great trip to a great city to watch two football teams that almost always play
in great games.
T I G E R P O L L
In planning your road trip(s) this year, keep in mind that every road trip
can be a bad experience just like every road trip can be a great experience.
It’s all in what you do and who you happen to run into while there. I can
recollect positive experiences at each of the above sites over the years. And,
with the exception of Maryland in 2001, the negative experiences have been
mostly benign in the grand scheme of things.
But the more you travel as a Clemson fan and see how you are treated, the more
you will understand how we should treat visiting fans in Clemson. Take the good,
the bad, and the ugly that you see this year on the road and help us make sure
we only see the good at our home games with our fans.
We’ll see you on the road….
A year removed from possibly the best away schedule in the history of Clemson
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