Photo: Joshua S. Kelly/USA Today Sports
Since the University of Louisville lost to Clemson 42-36 at the beginning of October, the Louisville fanbase has noticed a change in behavior from our previously friendly hosts. Clemson has long held a reverence among college football fans as having one of the most hospitable fan bases in the country. Just a bunch of good ole’ preppy bunch that will gladly welcome you into their tailgate for a beer and brat. Always considered the lovable bunch that suffered a #Clemsoning (or two) every year that inevitably ruined Clemson’s chance at national prominence.
Now enter October 1. Lamar Jackson brings Louisville within inches (literally) of knocking off the vaunted Clemson team, and elevating the Louisville program into the national lexicon. So Clemson gets its win, a very strong win at that, and hey, it was a great game, right?
Clemson fans have developed a strange obsession with wanting to refute any national mention of both Louisville and Lamar Jackson, while not being able to enjoy the win and their #2 ranking. They are likely to run the remaining schedule and go back to the playoff for a second consecutive year.
So the Louisville fan base has just one question for the Tiger faithful. Why you mad bro?
While I do find it strange and frustrating the sudden disdain Clemson fans have for Louisville, I do understand it. I do. I’m here for you Clemson fans. I want to explain your change to the masses and help you find peace in your undefeated season. But to truly understand the Clemson dilemma, you have to go back to 2012.
In the 2012 season, Florida State beat Clemson and finished 12-2, 7-1 in the conference and edged out Clemson (11-1, 7-1) for the Atlantic title. Clemson had won the division previously, but this was the start of the Florida State reign. The next season, Jameis Winston’s first season starting, Florida State won the final BCS Championship and again kept Clemson from national prominence.
In 2014, Louisville’s first season in the new ACC, Florida State made it to the first ever College Football Playoff unscathed, only to lose to Oregon. Clemson was again second in the Atlantic Division, but Louisville gained a win in conference play, with Bobby Petrino’s system starting to catch on with Charlie Strong’s remaining players.
Last season, sensing an opening with Winston jumping to the pros, and touting their own Heisman candidate at quarterback, the Tigers finished the regular season undefeated and found themselves in the National Title game against Alabama. While Alabama ultimately won 45-40, Clemson showed they were for real and should be a top threat this season in returning to the championship. Lead by most of their offense returning, including running back Wayne Gallman and third place Heisman candidate Deshaun Watson, they finally had their opening.
Enter Lamar Jackson. Louisville was slowly adjusting to the ACC and building their recruiting up, but Lamar Jackson was the game changer Louisville needed to elevate the program into the limelight. just two weeks after completely dismantling Florida State at home, Jackson led the Cardinals into Death Valley and showed everyone in the country that they were for real. Jackson was already garnering tons of national attention as one of the most prolific playmakers college football has ever seen, and Watson was off to a rocky start, despite Clemson remaining undefeated.
I’ve seen it argued that if Clemson loses a game, and still wins in the ACC Championship, that Louisville should get the ACC nod into the Playoff. I’ve seen it argued that if it wasn’t for the referees in
Ref Death Valley, that Louisville would have indeed won the game and should be undefeated, so they deserve the nod. I’ve also seen it argued that both teams should make the playoff and we will see the result on a neutral field.
I’ve heard every week that Lamar has already locked up the Heisman trophy. I’ve heard that he’s the greatest player college football has ever seen, and that he is 5x better than Michael Vick (from Michael Vick). And I’ve heard that Deshaun Watson just isn’t the same player he was last season. That Lamar’s number are so far ahead of everyone else’s that he could average enough points alone that would beat most teams.
This is why Clemson fans are panicking. They had their opening. They were primed for at least a couple years of uninterrupted dominance and shots at the National Title, along with a Heisman trophy. And, in their opinion, Louisville ruined it. Louisville has taken all the national attention for the ACC, Lamar has taken the Heisman conversation by the throat, and Clemson got left standing in the cold.
The thing about all of this is: Clemson will probably get to the playoff. They win out and they are in. They control their own destiny, and proved that they could even hang with Alabama last season.
Louisville is coming. They put everyone on notice by hosting their first ever College Gameday, and thoroughly destroying Florida State. Lamar Jackson will be back for at least one more collegiate season and the quarterbacks coming up behind him (Jawon Pass, Malik Cunningham) show the tools to continue Louisville’s ascent. And by the way, Bobby isn’t going anywhere.
Florida State will rebound too. Deondre Francois is going to be a problem if Jimbo can figure out how to keep him upright, and Florida State is recruiting in the most talent rich state in the country. They have several young stars on the defense and are already showing the turnaround is in place. But for this season, enjoy yourselves Tiger fans. You’re undefeated, ranked #2 and likely going to be able to showcase yourselves for a second year in a row on the grandest stage of them all. Just don’t get comfortable at the top.
Updated 11/3/2016: I misspelled Deshaun Watson’s name in the Michael Vick paragraph. I had it very politely pointed out by a Clemson fan. My deepest apologies.
7 thoughts on “Fansplaining: Why Clemson fans are so mad at Louisville and Lamar Jackson”
Clemso welcomes the competition. I really think the problem Clemson fans have is not with most Louisville fans, but with that small group of jerks that refuse to acknowledge Clemson beat them. Also, it is a very small group of Clemson fans not enjoying our success. You will continue to be welcomed with great hospitality to Death Valley, just treat us with respect as 98% of the Clemson fan base have done to you previously.
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I’ve said since then that UofL ruined its own opportunity to get into the playoff. I know that it is mostly a small segment from both fan bases causing the issues. I wanted to write something slightly fun to let some people laugh. I don’t think one part of a fan base can change an entire perception, just a little back and forth.
You are certainly full of it – smugness that is! You obviously know nothing about the Clemson Tiger Family and your comments illustrate the envy you and others have for our team. You see, hospitality is born and bred in our beings and we will always be the most congenial fan base in college football, it’s just the way we are! But for the last few years, a nonassuming, truly good person has made the Tiger football team believe good guys can finish first. Your problem is, you never thought that could happen, you never thought a bunch of good guys could win it all and in true Dabo style, I’m not going to say we can, but those guys are having fun and are being taught that winning football games is not the most important thing in the world. Giving your very best at everything you do is the most important thing you can do, for youself, your team, your school and the world. They have simply found out that his simple philosophy is true. I don’t think you’ll see Dabo making a fool of himself by denigrating the officials after a close game and I don’t believe you will hear our player saying they were robbed if they lose a close one. They will realize how lucky they are to play football on a big stage, they will realize how much of a thrill the effort offered them and they will take it in stride and move on without grumbling, wearing a smile on their faces. You see, they don’t feel entitled to anything except improvement- in all aspects of their lives. That’s what’s got the Clemson Nation excited; yes, winning it all would be great but it’s not everything! Just knowing our best is shining brighter than most at present is our thrill. Football rises and falls like the tides, but the Clemson Family will always feel as though they are winners, they will always wear a smile and extend a hand, no matter what happens or what others think. That is just the Clemson way!
Guys, we just met. You don’t have to slide into the little brother role so easily and willingly.
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Unfortunately, Louisville fans do have a slight complex about that.
Very happy to have Louisville in the conference. A passionate fan base makes for a great rivalry. Some of our fans get a bit too wrapped up in the whole disrespect thing. UL has every right to acknowledge that it was close to winning the game, but the notion that UL is better than CU or deserved to win is farfetched. Clemson physically beat UL by a substantial margin, but allowed UL to stay in the game with turnovers. We win on a neutral field, we win at UL. That may not always be case. For what its worth, I thought UL outplayed Clemson two years ago in Clemson when Watson got hurt. Not this year. You are a one trick pony, but that pony is something special. Next few years should be fun. Hope the conference schedules the game for a Saturday night instead of Thursday. Give you guys plenty of time to find a good yard marker guy. Those guys can make a difference in the outcome of a game, or so I’ve heard;)
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We’re glad to be in the conference as well. While I don’t agree we’re a one trick pony, I agree that it’s going to be a good rivalry. Between us two and FSU, the Atlantic is going to be one of the best divisions in college football for awhile I’m guessing.