Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, November 25, 2015, 9:55 a.m.
Time passes. Tomorrow will be Thanksgiving. NASCAR is over. All the football teams I watch in person — Clinton and Laurens Highs, Presbyterian College and Furman University — have completed their schedules, winning a collective 15 games in 44 tries. They had their moments: the Red Devils’ win over Woodruff, Raiders over Greenwood, Blue Hose over Kennesaw State and Paladins over Central Florida.
Presbyterian had the most losses but also played the closest games. They didn’t get clobbered by anyone other than Charlotte, and the 49ers didn’t clobber anyone else. Go figure.
At the same time, a college football team in South Carolina is ranked No. 1 in the nation. Clemson should get no stern test from South Carolina on Saturday, but, as roughly one in three South Carolinians has said at least sometime this week, stranger things have happened.
If the Gamecocks beat the Tigers, would that boost The Citadel into the BCS? Or, if Clemson then lost to North Carolina, would that boost the Gamecocks?
A thousand times no. A thousand times for good reasons. A game does not a season make.
But, as roughly one in five South Carolinians has said at least sometime this week, that’s why they play the games. Another South Carolinian in five has noted that Clemson is better on paper, but they don’t play games on paper.
Meanwhile, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has spent most of the week on the topic of his Tigers playing their games one at a time, which isn’t that unique.
Football, even with all my teams strewn along the roadside of the game of football (which, I’ve been told by coaches, is a lot like the game of life), has far to go. The playoffs. The bowls. The bands. The Paul Finebaum Show.
It’s so much easier to cast harsh judgments upon the detached vantage point of the television screen. Doomed efforts are more laudable up close and personal.
I’m also invested in them. I have diplomas from Clinton High and Furman. I remember playing football behind the end zones at the old Presbyterian stadium, the one with the smokestack that ran through the middle of the press box. At the same time the Blue Hose were playing for real, the kids of Clinton were playing for play.
I love the light this time of year. In the autumn, the colors — especially when the sun starts to dip to the horizon, flicker through the trees and cast dramatic shadows — seem brighter. Somehow, it doesn’t seem as noticeable in the spring. The winter is dour, the summer bleached.
This is the best time. Even when football is the worst in my memory on the local front, this is the best time.
Until recently, well, three years now, it was when I tramped home from NASCAR, perhaps after an extra day or two in the Keys.
Now I ache a little. I wish all these coaches I’ve gotten to know could have done better, could have ended their seasons with more security and satisfaction, and the kids, who gave so much and received in return so little … I hope they carry something positive with them into life, where, as hard as this is to believe, the cheap shots are more prevalent and the officiating worse.
All in all, like Smokey Robinson, I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day.
If you’re so inclined, I hope you’ll read my current novel, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s an ebook you can download for a mere $3.49 here. http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Natural-Causes-Monte-Dutton-ebook/dp/B00YI8SWUU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436215069&sr=1-1&keywords=Crazy+of+Natural+Causes
In the off chance that you read Crazy and enjoyed it, please consider my earlier novels, The Audacity of Dope and The Intangibles. Most of my books, fiction and non-, are available here. Print editions of the first two novels are available. http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1