CLEMSON - Clemson took time out from its early camp practice schedule to meet with media and fans Sunday during the annual Fan Appreciation Day at Death Valley.
For the fans, it was a chance to get up close and personal with Tiger players and coaches. For the players, it was a slight break before two-a-day practices began this morning at the Jervey practice facility.
For head coach Tommy Bowden, it is just one more sign that the new season is here.
"It's kind of one of those things, like the golf tournament I have with ya'll (media)," Bowden said. "It's one of the closing segments to the season starting. It's one of those indicators, the flags are going up.
"I've always enjoyed it, because I enjoy being around people. I guess if you don't enjoy people you might not (like it)."
The pre-meeting media session also included several Clemson veteran players who, as one might expect, had a good deal of the "we're going to be better than last year" lines ready for every notepad, microphone or camera within the vicinity.
But below the surface there seemed to be something else; a quiet confidence which, on occasion, allowed itself to show through.
"We haven't won the ACC championship since I've been here," said senior linebacker John Leake. "We haven't won it since coach Bowden has been here. I think we're the sleeper in the ACC this year, and I think we've got the talent to win the title."
Beyond that confidence, however, lies other emotions. None perhaps any more powerful than what appears to be driving center Tommy Sharpe.
"It's a sense of urgency," he said. "We want to show people we're not as bad as what they saw at the end of last year. We've all worked hard in the offseason to get bigger, stronger and faster. I think the whole team is approaching the season with the sense that we've got to get it done now."
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.