CLEMSON, S.C. (WIS) - It’s a pre-game tradition the Clemson Tigers have become known for doing for nearly two decades.
They call it “The Walk of Champions.” It starts from midfield with the entire team locked arm in arm and moves toward the end zone.
For Clemson fans, it’s a sight to behold as their beloved Tigers prepare to go into battle. For opposing fans, it’s anything but that.
Clemson has performed “The Walk of Champions” previously at Williams-Brice Stadium, where it has not been embraced with open arms. Recently, former University of South Carolina quarterback and radio announcer Todd Ellis shared his thoughts on “The Walk of Champions” and its impact at Williams-Brice Stadium.
“The Tigers put us in a tough position as well,” Ellis said on the call-in show as he and Muschamp talked about the need for fans to not throw items on the field. “One of the things that they do, and God bless them… is grasp those arms and they walk from midfield towards our student section. Maybe that’s something that could modify if they felt like it was provoking them in some way.
“Listen, we’ve got a responsibility to not throw things on the field. There’s no question about it. Can’t throw towels. Can’t throw water bottles. But we all want to act with class. There’s no doubt about it.”
On Tuesday, Dabo Swinney responded to Ellis’ comments just days before the Palmetto Bowl.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Swinney said. “2015, 2013, 2011, 2009, 2007, I mean, that’s what Clemson’s done for 17 years and, again, it’s ridiculous.
“It’s not any type of taunting. It’s a unity thing for our team. Something we do every single game… if it’s something we just did on the road, I could see that. It’s just who we are. It’s what we do and I don’t think anybody should be distracted by how a team warms up, how a team gets themselves ready to play a game. The bottom line is you can yell and scream and holler. I think that’s just part of it, but when you start throwing things at people, it’s all fun and games until somebody gets their eye knocked out.
Swinney recalled when he received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty two years ago at Williams-Brice Stadium after one of his players was hit by an object after scoring. Swinney just wants the game to be a safe one following that incident.
“I’ve got friends that are South Carolina people,” Swinney said. “That’s not representative for who they are. It’s just a few people that just don’t handle themselves the right way. You want to have a great, spirited competition. It’s a rivalry game. You get that. It’s emotional, but that’s dangerous and that’s just not something you should do.”
South Carolina hosts Clemson at noon on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.