COLUMBIA, SC - One day, Brad Scott figures life will go on.
Once he hit I-77 Saturday morning, he knew that at least for one day the normal life he's looking for would have to wait, though.
"Before the game I thought I was handling everything pretty well," said Scott, who returned to Williams-Brice Stadium for the first time since South Carolina fired him nearly a year ago. "But we got on that bus today and we were at Two Notch Road at the Ramada Inn right on the I-77 loop that I drove every day to work. I lived on that side of town. That's when it really hit me."
Scott had tried all week to act like Clemson's trip to South Carolina would be just another game.
"He said he was just ready for the game," said his son Jeff Scott a reserve tight end for Clemson. "We wanted to get it over with and get Clemson ready to go to a bowl game. There wasn't a lot of emotion."
The drive into Columbia made Scott reflect on the events of a year ago and the previous five years that he spent as head coach at South Carolina.
"The reflection on the way in brought back a few memories, but good...mainly good," he said.
Scott received a Gatorade shower in the closing moments of the game and then was carried to midfield on the shoulders of several Clemson payers.
He walked across the field searching out players. He hugged South Carolina quarterback Phil Petty, offensive lineman Phillip Jones and a half dozen other players before he left to the cheers of the Clemson fans waiting near the Tigers' lockerroom.
"I think a lot of coach Scott," said Petty. "There are guys on this team that played for him for four years. Myself, I played two years for him. When you play for somebody like that and give it everything you've got for him, you get close to him. You develop a relationship."
Scott didn't talk about coming back to Columbia before the game. After the game, he reflected on his emotions as he watched the players he recruited play against Clemson.
"It was tough because those plays come right to the boundary and they're looking over at the sideline making eye contact," said Scott. "I would just give them a thumbs up, or a go gettem or a good luck. That's mutual respect I hope. I know it is for me."
Not everyone for South Carolina took it that way.
"Yeah, I saw him ... it looked like he had a smirk on his face the whole time," said South Carolina linebacker Corey Atkins.
One or two South Carolina players didn't return Scott's attempt at a greeting after the game. Before he ran off the field, though, wide receiver Ben Flemming ran down Scott to shake his hand.
"The things I told our team about those guys this week were good things," said Scott. "Only Virginia Tech and Florida State have better defenses than that team. We didn't spend a lot of time talking about it. I didn't give a two hour lecture."
One day, he figures it won't even be a big deal coming back to Williams Brice.
"You guys wrote so much about it," he told the media after the game. "If y'all leave it alone it will probably go away."