At Clemson, South Carolina, the orange Tiger Paw logo is painted right on the roads that lead to campus. At Alabama, it’s the flood of crimson on foot, by car — and on billboards, too — pouring into Tuscaloosa on the way to Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Whatever color, or team, you prefer in Monday night’s national championship game in Glendale, Arizona, these schools have a whole lot of tradition.
Yes, Alabama has nine AP college football national titles to Clemson’s one, but the schools match up a little more evenly when it comes to cheers, fight songs and grub.
Clemson has Howard’s Rock, “Tiger Rag” and Refrigerator Perry. And let’s not forget about the Blue Cheese. Alabama counters with Bear Bryant, “Rammin Jammer” and Joe Namath. And Dreamland Bar-B-Que Ribs.
There’s plenty of famous alums. Clemson graduated Strom Thurmond, former governor of South Carolina and U.S. Senator. Alabama has plenty, too, from actor Jim Nabors to Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black to Hall of Fame announcer Mel Allen. How about that?
Heisman Trophy winners: Alabama has two, running backs Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015); Clemson has none, but quarterback DeShaun Watson finished third behind Henry.
Clemson has a larger enrollment (22,698) than the population of the town (14,276). Alabama, meanwhile, has an enrollment of 37,100. The population of Tuscaloosa is 95,334.
Stands to reason that Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium has a larger seating capacity. It does: 101,821 to Clemson’s Memorial Stadium’s 81,500.
There’s plenty of pre- and post-game hype, too. As Clemson players run out to the field for home games, each one smacks Howard’s Rock; as Alabama players enter their home field, “Sweet Home Alabama” blares over the loudspeakers. After wins, too.
Clemson is called Death Valley, and Alabama is T-Town for all its national titles.
While the championship game is being played a few thousand miles away, guaranteed when it’s over there will either be Clemson fans singing “Tiger Rag” or horns blarin’ the first few notes of “Yea Alabama” in Tuscaloosa.
Hold that Tiger. Roll Tide.
AP College Football website: collegefootball.ap.org