CLEMSON - It's that time of year again - the time in South Carolina when neighbor turns against neighbor, when families are divided and when co-workers get competitive. The Clemson Tigers and South Carolina Gamecocks are gearing up to take the field in the state's biggest collegiate football game rivalry on Nov. 20.
Clemson will play host to Carolina with a number of events during the week leading up to game day.
The schools' fans will battle for blood - literally - in the 20th annual Clemson-Carolina Blood Drive, sponsored by Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity.
Clemson campus and community residents can donate blood Nov. 15-19 at the Palmetto Ballroom in the Edgar Brown University Union and the Hendrix Student Center ballrooms from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. The blood is being collected by the AnMed Regional Blood Center and the Blood Connection of Greenville. Donors will receive a free T-shirt and will be entered into a raffle for prizes.
Clemson leads 12-7 overall in the competition, which is the state's largest blood drive. The two schools have collected more than 50,000 units of blood since the competition began.
"Clemson has lost the past five years in a row, so this year, it is extra important for people to come out to donate," said Clemson's blood drive coordinator Michael Cauley, a junior from Elgin. "It's a home game and the 20th anniversary, so we just can't lose to the Gamecocks this year."
Clemson students and fans will have another opportunity to help others with the Student Alumni Association's and Student Government's drive for Operation Palmetto. Operation Palmetto is a statewide effort, in conjunction with the Blue Star Mothers and Blue Star Families of South Carolina, to send a care package to each military service member from South Carolina.
Operation Palmetto is collecting items such as pre-paid phone cards, games, CDs and cassette tapes, DVDs, books, magazines, toiletries, socks, batteries and bug spray. A full list of suggested items can be found online at http://www.bluestarfamilies.com/List_Items_Needed_Printable_Page.htm.
The drive will be held Sunday through Friday, with drop-off locations at all campus residence halls, the University Union, the Hendrix Student Center and the Class of 1944 Visitors Center.
The excitement for the big game will reach a pitch at the Big Thursday pep rally, sponsored by the Student Alumni Association and Tiger Platoon, on Nov. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Outdoor Theater.
Clemson fans and students will celebrate the "Death of the Gamecock" with a mock funeral service and cremation of "Cocky." The evening events will include a film highlighting past Clemson-USC matches and free fried chicken sandwiches. The event is held on Thursday to honor the previous "Big Thursday" tradition, when Clemson and USC used to play their game on Thursday during the state fair week each year in Columbia.
Rather than competing, the brothers of Sigma Nu fraternity at Clemson and USC will unite for a common cause -- raising money for the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society -- with their annual game ball run.
Students will run with the ball 138 miles from Clemson to Columbia. USC's runners will leave Columbia Thursday afternoon and run to Greenwood, where they will hand the ball off to the Clemson students. The ball is expected to arrive in Clemson around 5 or 6 p.m. Friday. Clemson University President Jim Barker will join the effort this year and run the last leg of the journey, from the president's home to the Esso Club.