This is the first in a (hopefully) six-part series highlighting 10 things you may not know about Mizzou's opponents in the NCAA Tournament. Please keep in mind that while everything below is true, it's meant in jest.
Better Know An Opponent, Vol. 1: 2009 NCAA Tournament Opponents
Part One – Cornell
Part Two – Marquette
Part Three – Memphis
Part Four – Connecticut
Today's profile: The Clemson Tigers.
1) Clemson University is located in Clemson, South Carolina, a state known mostly for exceptionally dumb pageant contestants, being the first state to secede from the Union (the 1860 version of "FIRST!!1! lol") and looking kind of like a rock you'd use as a doorstop.
I'm going to wait just a second for everyone to go look at a picture of South Carolina, turn their head 45 degrees to the right, and go "Ha!" Everyone back? Cool. Let's continue.
Clemson was founded by Thomas Green Clemson IV, who went from Secretary of Agriculture of the United States to bomb-making soldier in the Confederate Army in three months. Seriously. According to Wikipedia (never wrong), he resigned from his post as Sect. of Ag. on March 4, 1861; he was paroled from the Confederate Army after four years of service on June 9, 1865. Do the math. Because I don't want to.
Anyway, Clemson University was his dream. In 1888, while on his death bed, Clemson gave his estate -- called Fort Hill -- to the state of South Carolina for the development of "The Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina." His only stipulations were that the house would remain in tact. And, apparently, that they build a statue of him that looks like he wants to tell his nephews drawn-out boring stories while they sit on his lap impatiently.
2) From everything that I can tell, Clemson isn't exactly the Mecca of the Southeast. When school's not in session, less than 12,000 people live there. Even if you include it in an "urban cluster", it's only got around 42,199 people there (in comparison, Columbia's got around 100,000, and have you ever felt like Columbia's huge?). It's sort of a poor area, too: 33.1% of the population lives below the poverty line. Aside from the university, Clemson seems like kind of a boring place.
But what about entertainment? Yeah, there's got to be entertainment, right?
From what I read, two of the most notable things in Clemson, South Carolina are a sports bar named "The ESSO Club" (mildly famous for hosting a charity music festival hosted by the Redneck Performing Arts Association how in the world could I make something like that up, I'm dead serious, they even have a Web site) and the historic Clemson College Sheep Barn. Yeah.
3) Clemson recently undertook an initiative to become a Top 20 public institution, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report, marking the last time that I can tell that someone took a magazine seriously in America. Anyway, Clemson has done a great job upping its reputation: when the initiative began, Clemson ranked 34th among public universities. Now? 22nd. Not too shabby. The initiative also marked a change in Clemson's motto:
"Clemson! Still Chasing That Pretty Attainable Rainbow!"
That motto was voted on by the students over the less-popular "Clemson! Hey, Close Counts In College, Right?"
4) Clemson's biggest rival is the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. Let's just get this out of the way: if you own a USC hat because it says "COCKS" on it, you're an enormous bag of douche. You're not funny. You're not original. You're why the terrorists hate us.
Anyways, these two schools really, really don't like each other. Think of it as a less-awesome Mizzou-Kansas. I don't want to get into the nitty gritty of why the rivalry is the way it is, but suffice to say that Clemson was founded by Republicans and USC was founded by Democrats. Politics: where everyone wins!
Their rivalry is pretty evenly matched and heated, coming to a head in 2004 when the football teams brawled on the field. Why? All in the name of the Hardee's Trophy.
Mmm. Hardee's Trophy.
Cheer, you obese Cocks. Cheer for your God of a trophy.
5) March 14, 1997 marks the last time that Clemson won an NCAA Tournament game, when the Tigers defeated Tulsa 65-59 to reach the Sweet Sixteen (under head coach Rick Barnes, of all people). What else happened on March 14, 1997? Austrian filmmaker Fred Zinnemann, most famous for From Here To Eternity and Oklahoma!, died. Who played Laurey Williams in Oklahoma!? Shirley Jones, who would go on to play the matriarch of the Partridge Family. Who else was on the Partridge Family? Danny Bonaduce. Who did Bonaduce fight in a recent boxing match? Jose Canseco. What has Jose Canseco become most famous for? Steroids. Who recently admitted using steroids? Mark McGwire. Whose record did McGwire break in 1998? Roger Maris. Where is Maris from? Hibbing, Minnesota. Who else is from Hibbing? Gus Hall, former head of Communist Party USA. And how's the Communist Party doing these days? Pretty crappy.
Clemson's NCAA Tournament losing streak is holding down Communism in America. A cheer for Missouri is a cheer for freedom.
6) Coach Oliver Purnell maintains a Twitter account. I don't feel that I need to intro these jokes any further.
7) Do yo thing, Hacksaw.
Oh, how I've missed you.
Former U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond, who was never a big fan of, as he so delicately put it, "the nigra race."
Founder and president of Hooters Robert Brooks. Also see: AMERICAN HERO.
MLB pitcher Kris Benson, the one you're not looking at in this picture.
Goggle enthusiast Horace Grant.
Actor James Michael Tyler, famous for having three first names and playing an annoying coffee barista on Friends.Hey, Gunther, which one of the six running jokes that they stretch out for a dozen seasons are you going to witness in your coffee shop this time? Is Phoebe still a free spirit? GUFFAW!
8) Instead of dwelling on alumni, let's talk about a current Clemson basketball player: Noel Johnson.
Now, Noel's a pretty decent player, averaging 4.7 points a game coming off the bench.
Noel's dad: Wichita State hall-of-famer Lynbert "Cheese" Johnson.
Noel's godfather: former Wichita State standout Xavier McDaniel, most notable for choking Wes Matthews.
Bet those family reunions are a hoot!
9) Back in 1977, there was a hissy fit going on between Clemson and Georgia Tech. Apparently, Tech began refusing to travel to Clemson to play, causing a rift between the two schools. They sort of just stopped playing each other, but in order to show the Atlanta business community exactly how much money Clemson brought in to the economy, all traveling Clemson fans began spending $2 bills. That way, businesses would know exactly how much money Clemson brought in by traveling to Atlanta.
Which is why I think Georgia Tech should have tried to change the $2 bill to look like this.
The $2 bill: when even Buzz Williams thinks you're being a douche.
10) Perhaps Clemson's most famous tradition is from the football field. On the way to the field, the football players rub Howard's Rock and run down a hill into Death Valley. It's called "the most exciting 25 seconds in sports." But really...couldn't it be a little more exciting?
Tune in (hopefully) Sunday for another edition of "Better Know An Opponent!"