Hindsight lends itself to nostalgia, and we often find our minds wandering back to moments to which we long to return. Early in the contest between Clemson and Notre Dame, it struck me that I was in one of such moments.
For Clemson fans young and old, Saturday night stands above all others in Clemson Memorial Stadium. Not merely because of the stage, the opponent, the outcome, or even the rain -- but because of each Tiger in attendance.
For a man prone to exuberance and perhaps a bit of hyperbole (don't get me wrong, I love it), Dabo Swinney delivered the understatement of Clemson's season in his postgame interview:
"Let me just tell you: rain, sleet, or snow, Tiger Nation, they show, and they were here tonight. Great, great job."
With the nasty weather forecast, I genuinely feared that a sizable number of fans would not attend, or that the rain would subdue a drenched crowd hidden and hunkered beneath its assorted rain gear. Ticket prices dropped, the governor declared a state of emergency, and asked us to watch the game on TV. I lamented what I felt would easily be one of the top atmospheres in the venerable history of Death Valley, ruined by the threat of flooding and inaccessible roads.
Good Lord, was I wrong.
Brian Kelly's got the "whoa those guys are doing X Games tricks" eyes pic.twitter.com/siUtp2BPAw— Feitelberg (@FeitsBarstool) October 4, 2015
Judging by Brian Kelly's face, my fears resembled his hopes. It was apparent 45 minutes before kickoff very few did not brave the elements. Perhaps he did not expect the sellout crowd to show in this weather, to make much noise, to act so unbelievably wild after 10-plus days of nearly constant rain and the occasional downpour.
When Clemson opened the scoring in a matter of minutes, the rain was gasoline which lit the crowd aflame, unquenched by any amount water throughout the contest or nerves at its conclusion. The powerful noise was incessant, the howling rage of the literal atmosphere surpassed only by the atmosphere of delirium in the stands.
From start to finish, Notre Dame 2015 was the best atmosphere in the history of Death Valley. It (unofficially) fell one decibel short of the 126 decibel peak we felt at Miami 2005, but it was undoubtedly the wildest, most intimidating, and impressive crowd of which I have ever been a part. Better than than Georgia Tech 2006, Boston College 2007, FSU 2009/2011, UGA 2013, or Louisville 2014. None approach what we created Saturday night in the driving rain.
I do not know if it was a wild attitude brought forth by hours of soaking, the opponent's pedigree, the game week trash talk, the dominant start, or the dramatic finish. Perhaps all brewed a perfect storm in Death Valley. No matter the source, thank you to the collective 82,415 for the best gift you can give to this Clemson Tigers team, and to each other.
From dawn Saturday morning until nearly midnight, the entire country witnessed not only your commitment, but the unrivaled voice of this Family. Now do it again.