Call it the “Gathering at the Paw.” It is a Clemson tradition and it should never die. Do not call it storming the field. Because it is not storming the field. There has been talk all across the internet lately about Clemson’s fan base entering the field after the ballgame. This is a tradition, mind you, that has gone on for many years. Even still, people are displeased with how Clemson fans go onto the field after football games. So, what is it that makes this tradition so special?
Tradition Lives On
Traditions are one of many reasons why sports fans love sports. Look at Notre Dame. The Irish and their fan base hold tradition incredibly high. That is why they play USC, Stanford, and Navy among others every year. The fact that they cannot play in a conference championship game has the potential to leave them out of the playoffs at the end of the season. It doesn’t matter though, because there still seems to be little interest for them to join the ACC full time in football. In Madison, they have “Jump Around.” Texas A&M has the “Midnight Yell.” Chief Osceola planting the spear is amazing. The Haka at Hawaii might make you run through a wall. Traditions matter.
I grew up as a Clemson fan. The traditions at Clemson are some of the best in the country (and yes, I do say this with bias). The rubbing of Howard’s Rock and Running Down the Hill with the balloons, fireworks and band will give you chills every single time. The band playing The Tiger Rag is incredibly fun. The Clemson Cadence Count. These are just a few of the traditions. But one of the coolest that Clemson has is the Gathering at the Paw.
I always thought it was the coolest thing that there were so many Clemson fans on the field during the coach’s interview. And when coach Swinney is fired up after a win or even dejected after a loss, with the Clemson faithful behind him, it is something special to see and experience.
On top of that, Dabo Swinney might be the best coach Clemson has had. Danny Ford was great. Frank Howard is a legend. I almost forgot that John Heisman himself coached at Clemson. While Danny Ford was able to bring home Clemson’s only national championship, Dabo Swinney looks better poised to have Clemson back to the level of success the Tigers experienced in the 1980s and not let it go. Clemson came up just short of Alabama in the championship game of the College Football Playoffs for the 2015-2016 season. Coach Swinney gets so excited after his team wins with the Clemson Family behind him, he gives some of the best interviews. BYOG! Bring your own guts!
The Gathering at the Paw is not something that is exclusive to the Clemson fan base. They invite fans from both teams to come onto the field. When Florida State beat Clemson in Death Valley in 2013, there were just as many, if not more, Florida State fans on the field celebrating with their coaches and their classmates. It was a 51-14 victory for the Seminoles so of course they were excited. Jimbo Fisher was excited. He had to lean into the reporter to hear what she was saying. And it was awesome. Watching Jameis Winston win was hard, but it still cool to see. But why do so many people dislike it?
Haters Will Hate
The Twitter sphere has been blowing up with people complaining/laughing at Clemson fans for “rushing the field” after winning games. Clemson should not have been in a close game with NC State. However, the game went to overtime. NC State kicker Kyle Bambard missed a seemingly easy field goal to win the game in regulation, thus, sending the game into overtime. Clemson scored first and intercepted the ball to win. Then, Clemson fans gathered at the Paw with excitement. Winning a game that you could have easily lost is reason enough to celebrate. Although, some people will not agree.
I DO know that so clearly you are reading and not listening. If you want to be treated like a heavyweight act like one. https://t.co/KkZPu7lEOq— Jonathan Coachman (@TheCoachESPN) October 18, 2016
ESPN’s Jonathan Coachman believes that if Clemson wants to be considered a powerhouse, they need to not rush the field. Why? Because Alabama doesn’t rush the field. I, for one, am glad that every school is not Alabama. Of course, I would love the results that Bama has enjoyed. But the fact that they don’t rush the field has not in any way contributed to the success the players and coaches have had. The reason Alabama is a powerhouse is because they win championships and send players to the NFL like it is their job. But, they don’t rush the field after games so they are the best.
Some Get It
Some people do understand that it is a tradition. Danny Kanell, for one, understands.
If a former Seminole can understand the idea of the tradition, then anybody can.
Also, ESPN’s Brett McMurphy puts it plainly.
Beat them. If you don’t like it, just beat them. Now, I love the sentiment. Even beating Clemson won’t be enough. Every game, you will see Clemson Gather at the Paw. It helps that Clemson hasn’t lost at home since the 2013 season against Florida State. But, little kids will run to their heroes so that they might get a Deshaun Watson autograph. The students get to run to Coach Swinney and celebrate a win. The Alma Mater is played and the Clemson faithful hold up hands as a family. Because that is what Clemson is. A family. That is why recruits come here, because they want to be part of a family. That is why parents send their players here, because they want to know that their son will be included in a family.
If you don’t like Clemson “rushing the field,” that is fine. Because most likely, Clemson would beat your team anyway.