Heavy ain, wind and a state of emergency declaration by Gov. Nikki Haley did not keep Clemson fans from coming out in full force for Saturday’s showdown with No. 6 Notre Dame.
Students lined up hours before kickoff to get into the stadium, and a packed house was on hand for the top-15 matchup. Weather did not cause major delays or issues prior to Saturday’s game.
Tigers athletics director Dan Radakovich said he wasn’t concerned about weather keeping fans away.
“The magnitude of the game, how much it means, and the fact that Notre Dame hasn’t been here since 1977, all entered into it,” he said. “I think our fans thought, ‘Hey, we’ll go buy a poncho, maybe a little more rain gear, and we’ll go have some fun tonight.’ ”
The fun started Saturday morning for many Clemson students and fans as ESPN’s College GameDay broadcasted live from campus beginning at 9 a.m. Thousands of Tigers supporters braved the tough conditions to attend the show.
“I thought we might have five people out here. We’ve got thousands of people out here,” ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit said during the show. “It speaks volumes about the Clemson Tigers fan base and how crazy they are about their team. We love coming here. They’re the best. We love bringing the show here.”
Radakovich said the spotlight gives Clemson a great opportunity to showcase the university.
“This morning, our students on GameDay, and then some of our fans who were there as well, they just did a phenomenal job of coming out in the inclement weather and being so enthusiastic and just really enjoyed themselves,” he said.
Radakovich added that much of Friday was spent meeting with local officials about whether or not to change the game time, but ultimately it was decided that there was not a window for the game to be played earlier in the day that would have made much of a difference.
“There’s a lot of logistics in moving times like this,” he said. “In the end, we just said, ‘You know what, let’s just keep it where it is, let’s talk to people and ask them to make smart choices.’ Getting here early would be a positive, and you have to have patience leaving here on a night game anyway. But maybe have a little extra patience for tonight.”