With football season underway, most Clemson fans are wearing orange, tailgating, and devising parking plans that are doomed for failure. Meanwhile, freshman chemistry major Cedric Jones is boning up on the basics of football. To learn why, The Black Sheep caught up with Cedric and followed his forward progress.
“I’m starting with the referees,” said Cedric as he paused the YouTube video in order to sketch the hand signals for a touchdown into his notebook. “Since the noise level in Death Valley is capable of reaching 130 decibels, I’ll need visual cues in addition to auditory ones in case my eardrums rupture.”
Like other freshmen, Cedric is new to Clemson’s campus, but unlike his peers, he’s also new to football, which is why he’s studying videos of past Clemson games. “I support the team 100 percent, but my knowledge about catchball is 0 percent.” He corrected himself. “I mean football! Gee whiz, I need to amend my definitions again.”
Searching for the section in his notebook labeled “American Football Terminology,” Cedric explains why Clemson is his school of choice. “The university is highly respected for its math and science programs,” he said as he added “football” to his vocab list about football. While most students are concerned with BCS rankings, Cedric is interested in the 20/20 initiative, or Clemson’s plan for becoming a top-20 U.S. public university. “Clemson is driven to be one of the best schools in the nation, which is my reason for Tiger Pride.”
Cedric understands Tiger Pride is also deeply rooted in athletics. “The tradition of sports, especially the contact sport football, is an integral part of Clemson culture,” he later acknowledged while swirling a test tube of sweat collected from players. “I’m analyzing pH levels in order to measure the dynamics of their thermoregulation systems,” said Cedric while dipping an indicator slip into the tube. “Understanding the game’s chemistry will help me cognitively internalize the game’s essence.”
During a gathering at a friend’s apartment to watch a preseason NFL game, Cedric observed the others like they were research subjects. “I’ve been focused on developing an efficient schedule, learning the syllabi, and formulating an operational theory for graduate school selection,” he answered when asked how the fuck he didn’t know anything about football as a native of Clemson, SC. “However, I’m now noticing the salient affinity for football on campus as evidenced by clothing that reflects wavelengths of 590 nm [orange], its domination of communication between students, and the primal-like vocalizations of support,” explained Cedric. As if on cue, a couple of guys yelled “YESSS!” when their team scored. He quickly recorded the event in his notebook.
To the chagrin of TBS, the Clemson coaching staff didn’t permit the media to accompany Cedric to Jervey Athletic Center for a closed-door meeting with Dabo Swinney. “They’re a little worried that my low catchball—I mean football—aptitude is going to affect the morale of the student body,” reported Cedric via phone right after the meeting. “I still can’t remember when to cheer and when to boo.”
Cedric continued to research, study, and cogitate about football. In an email sent after the Wofford game, he provided an update on his standing as a true Clemson fan. “I solidified my ability to discern when to cheer and when to boo,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, I keep confusing the presentation of the index finger for extra points with the middle finger for bad calls.”
What’s TBS’ advice? Get wasted in an orange polo on the Hill—he’ll fit right in.