One of IPTAY's founders was Dr. Rupert Fike (Clemson '08), otherwise known as Rube. In the Depression years some members paid their IPTAY dues with checks for $2.50, and some paid with milk, sweet potatoes and turnip greens they had raised on their farms. R.G. (Red) Horton, a fertilizer dealer in Loris, S.C., used to add $10—"for IPTAY"—onto all his customers' bills. "I like that new ingredient," said one farmer. "Give me a triple batch of IPTAY next time." More sophisticated schools in the basketball-crazy Atlantic Coast Conference still regard Clemson as some bib-overalled, brain-dead, dung-heaped barnyard football factory and claim the P in IPTAY stands not for pay but for plow.
But you better say that with a smile, buddy. A prominent member of IPTAY once wrestled a colleague to the floor in the U.S. Senate. Afterward the wrestler, Strom Thurmond (Clemson '23), who was 61 at the time, did not reveal whether IPTAY had come up in the conversation with his unfortunate opponent, but surely it could have.
It's likely that more people across the length and breadth of the land of football—if not the hallowed halls of Congress—have heard of IPTAY than know where Clemson is. It's "two hours from anywhere," in the words of Charlie Waters (Clemson '71), the former longtime Dallas Cowboy safety.
"I tell people Clemson is in northwestern South Carolina," says Clemson athletic director Bobby Robinson. "That seems to help." And another thing. When you're asking for directions, ask for Clim-zin. Locals will think you live right around the corner.
Actually, the former Clemson military school—women were admitted in 1955 (now 46% of the 12,000 undergraduates are female), and the school gained university status in 1964—is easily the biggest thing in the town of Clemson, which is two hours northeast of Atlanta and two hours southwest of Charlotte, N.C., nestled along the rim of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the lapping shores of Lake Hartwell. O.K., O.K., so it's a man-made lake.
If ever a college, a town, an environment was set in time, made, stamped and fingerprinted by one man, it's Frank Howard's Clemson. The everyday population is about 8,000—approximately 7,000 of whom have been known to dress up in orange hats and orange suspenders or orange pantyhose and to paint orange Tiger paws on their noses. On autumn Wednesdays, however, the orange begins to spread; caravans of RVs and campers and pickups start trickling into town and parking in the vast fields and blacktop lots lining the highways to Clemson Memorial Stadium, otherwise known as Frank Howard Field, otherwise known as Death Valley. By Thursday night, traffic is backed up on all thoroughfares.
On Saturday, the Clemson football network's pregame show airs on, among other stations, WYKZ in Hilton Head, WDOG in Allendale, WGOG in Walhalla and, believe it or not, KICS in Hastings, Neb. Along about then the hill at the east end of the stadium is fully covered by folks who just plop right down on gawd's earth. This part of the field is actually ticket section GG—for green grass, buddy.
Suddenly this thimble of a rural burg, where 72 hours earlier there was barely a sign of life, has become a raging ocean of orange humanity, more than 80,000 people strong, that comes downright close to being the second-largest city in the state and, decibel-wise, one of the loudest in creation.
"Where al these people come from is still a mystery to me, buddy," says Danny Ford, 41, the current Clemson head coach. "We don't have but about 50,000 living alumni. I guess you could say the biggest thing IPTAY did was get a whole bunch of other folks involved with Clemson. But when we built that second upper deck on the stadium a few years ago, dang if I didn't just stand there countin' them seats and figurin' there'll be just that many more angry people if we start a-losin'."
Ford is much more than ol' Frank's successor (four times removed) and another former Alabama player who has carved out a remarkable record at Clemson (91-29-4 in 11 years, which makes him the fourth-winningest active coach in the land). Except for his lack of girth, his full head of hair and his collection of 172 baseball caps (ol' Frank preferred a snap-brim fedora). Ford could be ol' Frank's clone—especially in his alarming capacity for chewing and spitting tobacco and for devastating the English language. Ford actually says things like "a-lo-sin" and "dang" and "wasn't no fun," as in "that probation wasn't no fun."