The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


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The Tiger will soon welcome Clemson fans back into Death Valley
The Tiger will soon welcome Clemson fans back into Death Valley

With all apologies to Santa Claus, Christmas music, and holiday baking, the opening weekend of college football is the most wonderful time of year.

It’s been 230 long says since Clemson fans last saw their team in action that counts, and that was the last seconds ticking off the clock as Alabama held on for a thrilling 45-40 win over the Tigers in Glendale, Arizona, in the National Championship Game.

For those that don’t make road trips, it’s been 281 days since fans have seen the Tigers play in Death Valley. In other words, it’s been what seems like an eternity.

And that’s why this week – and the weeks that follow – is so special. We convene in the WestZone Monday morning for the first round of game week interviews. Wayne Gallman kicks off the festivities at 11 a.m., and he’ll be followed by either Jeff Scott or Tony Elliott and several players.

Head coach Dabo Swinney has his first Tuesday press conference of the season Tuesday in the team room at the WestZone. He’ll be followed be defensive coordinator Brent Venables and players. After that it’s a Wednesday and Thursday practice with Friday being a travel day.

Saturday? A full slate of games capped off by Clemson playing at Auburn at 9 p.m. EST.

The game between the Tigers from the SEC and the Tigers from the ACC will likely be a warm and humid affair, with fans from both teams hurrying to their cars for air conditioning as soon as the game is over despite the fact that it will be well after midnight.

But, when fans see the Eagle fly into the stadium or see Clemson’s famous No. 4 warming up pre-game, they will know the best time of the year has arrived. The heat will be stifling, but the first whistles and scores are a harbinger of things to come. Sure, there will be a few games that will be a little hot, but as the calendar slides from September into October the skies will turn a brilliant blue, the air will be a little clearer, and it will definitely be a little crisper.

October will begin with the trees still a solid shade of green, but by the time Clemson travels to Tallahassee the colors in the region will have started to change and the Tigers’ championship aspirations will come fully into view.

That sets up a gorgeous final month in Death Valley – Clemson plays three of the final four regular season games within the familiar confines of Memorial Stadium. Syracuse and Pitt open November at Clemson, while Clemson travels to Winston-Salem to take on Wake Forest in the third week. The Tigers close out the month with the rivalry game against South Carolina, and the hope is that the leaves will feature brilliant shades of orange, and the air will be a little clearer because of a championship run.

But that month is also the start of the holiday season – I like Halloween, so it starts there for me. Thanksgiving will be the talk of November, and the start of the Christmas season will coincide with conference championships and bowl invitations.

Christmas will descend and then leave before we know it, followed by the start of bowl season and New Year’s Day with the parades. The college football playoff will be in there somewhere, followed by the title game.

And just like that, the most wonderful time of year will be over. So enjoy this week and the game Saturday and all the games that follow, with the holidays and family and a change in the weather. This week, it starts with a primetime game on the Plains in Auburn that already has several talking points, and there will be plenty to talk about once the final seconds have ticked off the clock.

It's go time. Enjoy the most wonderful of the year. And spot the dang ball.


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