When ol' Frank bowed out as coach, Clemson's marketing people greeted the new age with a more benign look in Tiger paraphernalia, namely cute, cuddly footprints that would appeal to children of all ages. Ol' Frank, cursing progress, referred to them as Men-o-paws. But the Greek element at Clemson responded as if the school administration had ordered up free love, and soon fraternities and sororities made it one of the pledges' annual duties to paint huge orange Tiger paws on every roadway and parking lot in five counties.
In retrospect, the paw was—and is—the perfect embodiment of the total Clemson experience, which has always been rich in what a certain resident of the White House might call "the family thing." Athletic director Robinson recalls going to IPTAY meetings with his parents in his hometown of Columbia when he was five years old. He remembers "riding on the train to Jacksonville to see the Tigers upset Florida when I was seven. Families came to Clemson together. We'd tailgate and picnic. Then the parents would go to their seats, and the kids would pay a dime and go up to GG and watch the game."
Nowadays, the families are sometimes even closer. Hammond's daddy, John, is a South Carolina state trooper from Spartanburg who has worked the Clemson highway for almost 20 years. Until they actually enrolled at the university, Vance and his older brother, Mark, got out of bed on home-game Saturdays at six a.m., were on the road by seven, arrived in Clemson at eight, ate some biscuits with their dad and then hung around the campus till game time. Two seasons ago, with Vance playing in nine games for Clemson, Mark working as a Clemson graduate assistant coach and John patrolling the sidelines and talking to his sons whenever he got a chance, "it felt like a church league Softball game," says Vance.
Hazel Modica, 28, works in the Clemson sports information office. She's orange through and through: Clemson clothes, Clemson purse, paws on the cheeks. The entire Tiger package—"Except orange hair. I draw the line at orange hair," she says. Modica knows that even if she wanted to work in the press box on Clemson game days, she couldn't. She gets too excited, too nervous. She would cheer too loud. Act too obnoxious. And anyway, her former boss, Bob Bradley, Clemson's sports information director, who retired on Sept. 30, had the good taste never to let anybody get away with wearing orange in his press box. "I learned to drive our car on the back roads, coming to Clemson football games," Modica says. "Oh yeah, and my mom says when she was pregnant, she almost had me at the Wake Forest game."
In the compellingly soft yet often shrill foothills of Mr. Clemson's agricultural paradise, football has kept its hold on everybody. In 1980 the Tigers' longtime trainer, Herman McGee, died and was borne to his grave by several football players. The flowers were serviceably white. The deceased was dressed in traditional black. It was only McGee's coffin that was orange. Dang, buddy. At Clim-zin, they get you coming...and going."