You know that feeling when you put a location into your reliable GPS, but it takes you somewhere completely foreign compared to your desired destination? Or when you get to that one question on a math test where it seems like nothing that you’ve ever learned could be used to solve the problem? I experienced something similar on January 7, 2019, when a zombie apocalypse took over the Crimson Tide and I was engulfed in a sea of braggadocious orange and painstaking purple. To give you some insight, the day after the National Championship at school is grueling as you wistfully recall less than twenty-four hours ago when you were engaging in the zealous anticipation of what was sure to be a great match. When you could actually envision the trophy in your hands and hear “Sweet Home Alabama” playing as you remembered the triumph that whirled through you after a hard-fought victory over Georgia last year.
And the thought of losing? Well it was there of course, but would your competitive fervor really concede to that possibility? The answer is not until you’re turning the TV off because there will be no confetti for the team that has won seventeen national championships; five of those being under Nick Saban.
The only allies you have in Spartanburg during the days leading up to a Clemson vs. Alabama National Championship are the Carolina fans who on any other day will relentlessly remind you of the game in 2010 where they toppled number one Alabama. While these fans deplore Alabama fans most days, they swing to the opposite end of the spectrum when we play their biggest rival.
Besides these “fans” and friends from Alabama, the general procedure during the game is to put all Clemson fans on the “do not disturb” setting. In light of the events of January 7, my mom has declared that some of these people will remain on “do not disturb” permanently.
Well after the National Championship trophy has been awarded and carted home with the victors, the pain continues. You find that you must sit in silence getting ready in the morning because every local news station is broadcasting the “home team victory” and will be for what seems like eternity. My mom calls the week after losing to Clemson “media-blackout week” because it takes about a week for a more significant story to eclipse the entire state’s victory lap. It’s not until you have to face the persistent gloating from the majority of your friends and teachers that you really reconcile with the notion of defeat. You can’t check out at the grocery store without seeing special edition sports magazines with titles such as, “Dabo’s Dynasty!” emblazoned all over them, and can’t help but be beleaguered by Clemson National Championship t-shirts for sale everywhere.
It is even difficult to leave the state and re-enter because as you cross the state line, a large green reflective sign boasts “Welcome to South Carolina: Home of College Football National Champions.” Driving down Main Street, you are assailed by the massive billboard from which the Tigers jeer. Even my server at Taco Dog was wearing the “Beat Down 44-16” shirt when I went a week later later just to further amplify the humiliation.
So how do you cope when you find yourself in this strange land of loss, where everything is sickly orange and purple while your heart still bleeds crimson? You try to console yourself with the knowledge that your team won the recruiting battle last Wednesday when they signed the number one college football class for 2019. You remind yourself that your team has won five national championships in the last ten years. You silently laugh that, because of the government shutdown, Clemson’s football team had to eat Big Macs when they visited the White House (“Now who’s the loser?” you say to yourself).
Okay, we Alabama fans are still working on our coping mechanisms. But in the meantime, we will fix that little glitch in the GPS and start counting down the days until the 2019 college football season. Roll Tide.