Parent of the South

As a child of the South: born in Georgia and resident of South Caorlina for the last 30+ years, and now a parent in the South, I’ve determined Five values all Southern Parents must instill into their children:

  1. Manners, Manners, Manners
    Above all else, and before all else, you must be polite and show proper respect to all people. This includes proper use (meaning everyone, young and old) of “Ma’am” and “Sir” and continual use of “May I” (even if it’s already yours) and “Thank You” even if you were wronged.

  2. Love of college football
    You must find a team and make them your own. You must love them through thick and thin and you must hate their rivals (I have some ideas of teams you can cheer for, if you need some).

    And most importantly, you must not celebrate special events on fall Saturday’s – especially weddings. No daughter of the South shall ever schedule a wedding between Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

  3. Exposure to Beach Music
    You must learn to shag and to make sure your children do as well. And shagging can only be done to Beach Music. While most people are familiar with the Drifters, the Temptations, and the Four Tops, you must also be conversant with groups like Chairman of the Board, the Catalinas, the Embers, and the Tymes.

    If not, how else do you propose to have a Southern wedding?

  4. Wardrobe of seersucker and flip flops
    To not only be Southern, but to also look Southern, your children must have a collection of seersucker suits/dresses and flip flops. Both of these materials breathe the best, which is a necessity in the hot and dirty south.

    There is some leeway here for girls as a good sandal can take the place of flip flops. Should typically be white, or other light color, and be adorned with flowers or fun insects.

    However, please note there are some exceptions to this rule. For guys, no sandals. None. For girls, the following brands are off limits to be considered Southern: Tevas, Birchenstocks, and Crocs – even they make flip flops.

    This should go without saying, but socks with either seersucker or flip flops is explicitly outlawed. In general, socks in the South are optional – even for work.

  5. A few great expressions
    What makes Paula Dean so lovable, besides the butter, are the expressions, and every Southerner must have a few in their staple. They do not need to make sense, but they need to be understood – know what I’m saying? Southern expressions are generally silly, confusing, and grammatically incorrect, when read outside of a Southern conversation – kind of like athletes’ tweets outside of a sporting event. But you must have them.

    Generally, 5-10 will get you through most every situation in life – and you’ll never be at a loss for words.

As you try to raise Southern children, please note, Southern reality tv is not your barometer. You may not use any of the sayings, dress, or tricks shown on Duck Dynasty, Honey Boo Boo, Swamp Loggers, or any other “Southern” reality show to increase your Southern standing. It must be legit and from you, the parent, not some terd on tv.

So – how are you parents of the South doing in raising our next great Southern generation? Any other necessities I missed? Am I wrong on any?

Even if I were, would your Southern hospitality and manners be allowed to tell me?

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Checking in on 40 Before 40

It’s been nearly two months since I’ve mentioned 40 Before 40 and nearly 5 months since I finished the list. And while it may appear not much is happening in the dreams department, nothing could be further from the truth.

I currently own a Ford Explorer, which is still in production, although my version is a few body styles removed from the current vehicle. Does this count? Not really what I was expecting when the dream came about, so it currently stands as no.

And with that said, I still can’t lay claim to completing any of my 40B40 list (like my shortened version?), but I can feel myself getting close. The Tiger Swag is slowly making progress. At its current level, I don’t think it counts as being published, but it may lead to other opportunities. Opportunities like going viral (Tiger Swag was called out on a Gamecock message board), being on radio or tv or podcast (I would consider that a win), or even taking a road trip (press passes, right?).

In better news, I expect to accomplish a few goals this fall. October will be our annual Clemson road trip, which will take us to Winston-Salem, home of Krispy Kreme (emails have already been exchanged). Fall break may contain a trip to DC with the fam, which will certainly include a stop by Busch Gardens. And November will be renamed “No Shave November”, which will be followed by a Floyd the Barber shave.

Other work includes multiple offers for road trips – just need to find the time (and money), minor opportunities to cater an event, negotiations of a hot air balloon ride, research into using my engineering skills to solve problems, and inquiries into hosting a concert.

But more importantly, my list must change. Since I joined Facebook in support of The Tiger Swag, I have actually forever denied myself to accomplish one of my goals. So, rather than rename the list 39 Before 40, I’ve decided to replace Facebook with a new dream.

My new dream – invent something.

I don’t need to be a Di Vinci or Edison or Franklin. I don’t even need to be an Otis (elevator), de Mestral (Velcro), or Judson (zipper). I’d be honored to be like another Powell I know.

Terry Powell – aka Dad. He took used clothes hangers from department stores, sawed off the connector pieces to create his own version of chip clips. I’ve also seen solve many a problem without using the proper tools. Just gettin’ it done any way he can.

Honestly, I’d even settle for an idea. An idea like online police scanners (been done), putting all known leaves in an app so you can recognize vegetation (been done), or packaging crayons based on schools and conferences. Would you want your kids coloring with a Crimson crayon for Harvard or Blue for Yale? I know I would. Heck! I’d have seconds and then polish it off (see the 2:15 mark)…

Unfortunately, Home Depot upped the ante by selling official paint colors of the NCAA.

So, it shall still be called 40 Before 40: 40 goals before turning 40.

And I only have 40 more to go…

The Hottest I’ve Ever Been – Part II

August 30, 2003, Clemson, South Carolina

Clemson was opening the 2003 football season by hosting Georgia for a noon game. The previous year, Clemson took UGA down to the wire in Athens, and expectations were high.

The first football game is always the most exciting. We were pumped as we headed from Waterloo to the Promised Land. Everything was going just as planned until we hit Anderson. At that point, 20,000 Clemson fans met 20,000 UGA fans.

Traffic stopped. Temperatures were high. Tempers were higher.

We finally made our parking space 15 minutes before kickoff. We literally ran from the car to the stadium. We were then stuck in the concourse waiting to get to our seat. It’s hot. It’s sticky. It’s smelly.

We finally make our seats just as the Tigers are coming down the hill. They were pumped. We were pumped. The crowd was pumped.

All 80,000+ fans were jumping up and down. It was downright sweltering in there.

But we didn’t care. Football was back and we were playing the silver britches.

Then the second most beautiful play-action pass I’ve ever seen occurred (see Chris Weinke vs Clemson). David Green faked, Justin Miller bit, Fred Gibson scored.

UGA 7 – Clemson 0

Unfortunately, the temperatures continued to climb. So did Georgia’s side of the scoreboard.

The afternoon sun never relented. Neither did Georgia’s defense.

Final score: UGA 30 – Clemson 0

At the end of the day, we were sweat soaked and sun burnt. And humiliated.

That day will not set any temperature records as there were many days as hot or even hotter, but to me, that was the most miserable football game I’ve ever been to. Add in the traffic before the game, the shut out, and the fact that’s it at home to your rival, and it all points to the hottest I’ve ever been.

Christianity is a Major League Sport

Moonlight Graham’s wish? To have one at bat in the majors. To wink at the pitcher while he’s in his windup, making him think he know something the pitcher didn’t.

The Christian’s wish? To just once, live the way God intends.

The dream of any young boy is to play ball in the majors. Yet, it’s a dream few ever realize.

Only 1 out of 10 players drafted will ever see the big leagues while only 1 out of 100 will be able to turn baseball into a career.

And because of these percentages, one of the rarest of feats is to go from being an amateur to a major leaguer without ever stepping foot in the minors. Since Major League Baseball instituted the amateur player draft in 1965, only 18 players have ever jumped straight from the draft to the bigs.

18. Let that number sink in. 18.

To give perspective, Clemson has produced 38 major leaguers in that same time frame.

And of those 18 players to go straight to the majors, 15 of them ended up back in the minors at some point in their career. And for most of them it was extended time, just like every other ball player.

Result – in the last 47 years, only three players have played in the majors without any kind of foray through the minors. Three.

Playing in the majors means paying your dues. There is no shortcut. There is no secret.

And no one is special. Not Aaron or Pujols or Gwynn. Or Maddux or Smoltz or Halladay.

And the same is true for Christianity. Just because we become a Christian doesn’t mean we are automatically prepared to be the man God calls us to be.

We still need to go through growth and maturity. We still need to learn more about the faith and about ourselves. We need to grow up in our faith and into our bodies. Just like major leaguers.

There are many days I wish I could be were I need to be. There are many days I wish the snap of a finger or the saying of a prayer would get me there. That I could skip the refinement process and just be full version of who I’m supposed to be.

But that’s not the case. Nor will it ever be.

The disciples needed time with Jesus to learn. And they still screwed it up.

Paul himself spent three years in the minors, getting ready for the calling God had for him (Galatians 1). And even after the three years, there were still doubters.

Peter urges us to grow up in our spiritual faith. (1 Peter 2:2) Paul urges us to not become weary (Galatians 6:9), but to press on to win the prize (Philippians 2:12-14)

So in times when I wish there wasn’t a process or times when I wish I were ready, I’m humbled by the fact that even the pillars of Christianity (Galatians 2) needed practice and preparation.

I’m humbled by the fact that no one is good (Romans 3) and we all must work out our salvation (Philippians 2).

So, if even the best of ball players needs a few years in the minors, who am I to think I can get their overnight.

And what fun would that be anyway?

P.S. – Jesus would’ve been the first to go straight to the majors because he can hit a major league curveball

List of Players who went directly from amateur baseball to the major leagues (18 total):

  • 2010 – Mike Leake – Starting Pitcher, Cincinnati Reds (College)
    Currently in majors, was optioned to AAA in 2011 for two games

  • 2000 – Xavier Nady – Outfielder, San Diego Padres (College)
    Played 1 game then sent to minors. Promoted back to majors in 2003

  • 1995 – Ariel Prieto – Starting Pitcher, Oakland Athletics (Cuba/Puerto Rico)
    Pitched in 70 total games over 6 years, finishing 15-24 with 4.85 ERA
    Spent portions of nine seasons in minors at end of career

  • 1994 – Chan Ho Park – Relief Pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers (South Korea)
    Pitched two games, then sent to AA. Promoted to majors again in 1995
    All-Star selection

  • 1994 – Darren Driefort – Starting Pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers (College)
    Went 0-5 first season & 48-60 for his career & retired early due to health issues
    Spent portions of three years in minors

  • 1989 – John Olerud – First Base, Toronto Blue Jays (College)
    Recorded over 2,200 hits, 250 homeruns, 1,200 RBI, and batted .295
    2-Time All-Star Selection
    AL Batting Champ

  • 1989 – Jim Abbot – Starting Pitcher, California Angels (College)
    Few solid seasons (18-11, 2.89) & threw no-hitter
    Career record: 87-108, 4.25
    Spent last few years in minors trying to make it back

  • 1986 – Pete Incaviglia – Outfielder, Montreal Expos/Texas Rangers (College)
    Drafted by Expos, but refused to play in minors. Traded to Rangers who granted request
    Trade immdiately after draft necessitated MLB changing the rules to force players be under contract one season before being traded. Now known as Pete Incaviglia Rule
    Best season was rookie season when he hit 30 homeruns
    Career: over 1,000 hits, 200 homeruns, 650 RBI, and batted .246
    Spent portions of last 5 years in minors

  • 1978 – Mike Morgan – Starting Pitcher, Oakland Athletics (High School)
    Made 3 starts before being sent to AAA. Recalled following season
    Sent back down for three seasons

  • 1978 – Bob Horner – Third Base, Atlanta Braves (College)
    Never played in minors
    All-Star Selection, NL Rookie of the Year (over Ozzie Smith), & hit 4 homeruns in one game
    Career: over 1,000 hits, 200 homeruns, 675 RBI, and batted .276

  • 1978 – Tim Conroy – Pitcher, Oakland Athletics (High School)
    Pitched in two games before being sent to minors
    Recalled four years later
    Career record: 18-32, 4.71

  • 1978 – Brian Milner – Catcher, Toronto Blue Jays (High School)
    Played two games as a catcher, then sent to minors
    Never returned to majors

  • 1973 – Dave Winfield – Outfielder, San Diego Padres (College)
    12 Time All-Star, First Ballot Hall of Famer
    Career: 3,110 hits, 465 homeruns, 1,833 RBI, .283
    Only player on list with more than 2 all-star selections
    Only player on list in Hall of Fame
    Highest paid player at one time
    Won World Series with game-winning hit

  • 1973 – Dick Ruthven – Starting Pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies (College)
    Spent most of 1975 in minors
    Career record: 123-127, 4.14
    2-Time All-Star

  • 1973 – David Clyde – Starting Pitcher, Texas Rangers (High School)
    Originally agreed to make two major league starts, but pitched effectively enough to remain with the club
    Ended up spending portions of 4 years in the minors, totaling more games there than in the bigs
    Career record: 18-33, 4.63

  • 1973 – Eddie Bane – Pitcher, Minnesota Twins (College)
    Pitched in 44 total games in majors, spent six seasons in minors
    Career record: 7-13, 4.66

  • 1972 – Dave Roberts – Third Base, San Diego (College)
    Sent to minors early in second year
    Spent portions of 10 seasons in majors and five in minors
    Career: over 475 hits, 49 homeruns, 208 RBI, .239

  • 1971 – Pete Broberg – Starting Pitcher, Washington Senators (College)
    Maybe smartest player on list – Dartmouth
    Played two years in majors before being sent down
    Career record: 41-71, 4.56

  • 1971 – Burt Hooten – Starting Pitcher, Chicago Cubs (College)
    Played in three games before being sent down
    Returned following year and never went back to minors
    No-hitter, All-Star Selection, & NLCS MVP
    Career record: 151-136, 3.38
    Best pitcher of list

  • 1971 – Rob Ellis – Outfielder, Milwaukee Brewers (College)
    Played 36 games in majors before being sent down
    Returned three years later, but only played in 28 additional games
    Career: 38 hits, 0 homeruns, 10 RBI, .229

  • 1970 – Steve Dunning
    Played two seasons in majors before being sent to minors
    Played 7 total years in majors & 6 in minors
    Career: 23-41, 4.56
    Probably most famously known as the only pitcher to hit a grand slam (until 2008)

  • 1967 – Mike Adamson – Relief Pitcher, Baltimore Orioles (College)
    Pitched three games in majors before being sent down
    Pitched 11 total games in majors
    Career: 0-4, 7.46

Has Golf Gone Country?

While the South is known for its golf courses (Augusta, Pinehurst, Sawgrass), the game of golf hasn’t been focused here since Bobby Jones.

Jones pulled the spotlight from Hagan and New York and was able to keep it through most of the 20’s and 30’s. But following his health issues, it went back to New York with Gene Sarazan.

And then to Texas with Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan.

It could be argued golf should have taken root in Virginia with Sam Sneed, but he had the misfortune of being a contemporary of Hogan, and Sneed never seemed to be able to wrangle it away from Hogan and take it home to Virginia.

Following Hogan, it could be said Arnie’s Army marched the game back to North Carolina. But Arnie had the pleasure of being the first mainstream marketable face in golf. And rather than take the game to North Carolina, it ended up in Times Square.

Throw in Gary Player and a young Jack Nicklaus and the south never had a chance.

The game rested in the hands of the Big Three and corporate America through the remainder of the 60’s, & 70’s until their careers wound down.

But following their run, golf seemed to struggle (minus one incredible run old man Jack had in ’86 at Augusta). It produced great golf, but it could never find its star – someone who could elevate the game the way the earlier greats did.

And then came Tiger Woods. With him, the game refocused itself in places like Palo Alto, California (Stanford) and Eugene, Oregon (Nike).

And it stayed there until one unforgettable November night in 2009.

When Woods crashed into the fire hydrant and was taken to the hospital, the game of golf went south. Literally and figuratively.

But when the south finally had its grip on the game again, it didn’t let go. This time it held on, like a Gator with dinner.

During Tiger’s run, starting with his win at Augusta in 1997 and ending that fateful night, Americans won 32 major championships (Tiger 14). Of those 32 wins, only 6 were by southerners. The numbers were even worse until Glover (Clemson) and Cink (Georgia Tech) went back to back in the summer of 2009.

That 12+ year run saw Tiger and Phil go head-to-head and the rise of Jim Furyk. It was so bad, even the one-hit wonders were Yankees (Beem, Micheel, and Hamilton).

But since that night, the South has risen. The majors don’t show it (2 to 2, with the last two going to the south), but the regular tour stops do.

Using the start of 2010 as the barometer, American’s won 72 PGA Tour events (not counting alternate or non-official events). Southerners won 35.

Since 2011, Southerners won 23 of 44 tournaments with American winners. This year, 11 of 21 (and both majors).

And while these numbers only show Southerners winning half the tournaments, the south gets no credit for the vast areas of Texas and Oklahoma. These areas aren’t really south, but they ain’t north either.

If you leave Texas and Oklahoma out, then the South has won nearly twice as many events as the other regions.

And it’s a different breed of golfer. They’re young, brash, and, most importantly, themselves.

You’ve got Watson’s power and quirkiness, Dufner’s chill, Dustin Johnson’s length, Kuchar’s smile, and Haas’ lineage.

But will it last? Not sure, only one of the Golf Boys is from the south. And he has a Green Jacket.

A Thankful Clemson Man

As a Clemson man, I have plenty to be proud of and thankful for. Probably more than most. And I say that in great humility, as I’m constantly reminded of how special this place is.

I could speak of Clemson’s humble beginnings as a land grant institute, being the first public school in South Carolina to admit black students, and its technological advances to the fields of agriculture and science.

I could speak of its athletic history, how it owns South Carolina, has a National Championship in football, and another conference title under its belt.

I could speak of its beauty, nestled in the foothills and surrounded by Lake Hartwell.

I could speak of its academic reputation and the power of a Clemson degree.

All of those make me so proud, and thankful, to be a Clemson Tiger.

But none of them are THE reason I am thankful to be a Clemson man. No, there is one thing that makes it even more special, and makes me even prouder: Our military history.

When the first students entered the Clemson campus in 1893, they were more than just students, they were military. And since that day, over 10,000 Clemson alumni have served their county, from the Spanish-American War to today.

And of those 10,000 alumni, 470 gave their life to this country.

Countless others, like my father, a Vietnam Veteran, came to Clemson after their service. And I wonder how many more future Clemson alumni never got the chance my father did. I wonder how many future Clemson alumni never came home.

I used to call my dad every Memorial Day to thank him for his service. And every year he would explain to me how this day was not about him, but those who gave their lives to protect our freedoms. I would agree, but thank him again anyway.

See, I had the opportunity to fulfill my dreams of attending Clemson. Or wearing the orange and purple with pride. Of singing the alma mater. Of wearing the ring.

But I can’t help but wonder how many of those same dreams were never fulfilled. I wonder how many dreams are buried in France or Vietnam or the South Pacific.

This place we call Clemson is amazing. And a lot of it is due to our military history, but I can’t help but wonder how much better it could have been if every young man who gave their life for this county would have attended.

To read more about Clemson’s military history, its honoring of its veteran alumni, and ways you can support, watch the video below and check out the following links:

A Great Dilemma & A New Adventure

There are times when lines are a little blurry and there are times when a line must be drawn. Since the beginning of the Facebook rage, I drew a stern line in the sand, promising to never cross over to the “dark” side. I was so adamant in my dislike for Facebook that I made never joining Facebook one of my 40 Before 40 goals.

It cost me a few friends (literal – not the digital kind), but also helped me forge others (great minds do think alike).

This whole idea of interacting with people, in tiny insincere methods, has never been attractive. My main thinking has always been: “If I haven’t spoken to you in 10 years, there may be for a reason for that.”

But taking risks means putting your pride aside. And for me, that means my Facebook aversion. I am willing to swallow my pride and redo my goals, all in the name of going out on a limb.

And starting a new website, devoted strictly to all things Clemson, is a large risk on a small, tender limb.

Don’t believe me? Let’s review:

  • I’m an engineer with a math passion, not a writer
    In high school and college, I dreaded any form of required reading and writing. I failed the only AP exam not tied to math and in college, my wife “edited” my papers just so I could get through the basic English & Literature courses. And even when I chose a non-math based class, they were rooted in things I already enjoyed: technology and sports.

  • I live 4.5 hours from Clemson – and am able to visit 1-2 times per year
    I don’t have the ability to walk across campus and interview players, watch practices, or get a vibe on the current state of affairs. I am not surrounded by newspapers and articles letting me know what’s happening. I have to pick my chances – and that usually means trying to find a game suitable for the girls.

  • I have no access to the University, Athletics Department, Sports Information Department, or any other department with the school
    I can’t pick up the phone or drop an email asking for an interview. I’m not able to learn about news events before the general public. Everything I learn, I learn from the media or message boards. Which brings me to my next point:

  • There are already multiple websites which offer similar information
    I don’t have the writing chops to be a leader in Clemson info. I don’t have the access to get the kind of info most people want. I don’t have the location to get a feel for the campus. And I don’t have the web skills to develop a website and message board capable of doing something different. And there are already places that have this info. And most do it pretty well, not to mention the national media (ESPN, Yahoo!), which have their own comment streams and message boards.

  • I already have a full-time job, a wife, two kids, and my own blog
    My wife and I need a vacation. So does our entire family. I log nearly 45 hours per week at work, not counting the hour and a half I spend in the car getting to and fro. There have been weeks that go by here without fresh content and here I am thinking of starting a new website. One that requires frequent content, differing thoughts, and more time.

  • And finally, I love Clemson sports for what it is, not what happens
    I realize we may never win a championship in any sport, let alone football. I realize we haven’t beaten our rival in three years. I realize our best days may be a quarter century in the rear. I realize millions of dollars are spent to support this university – and that demands results. I realize hundreds of other fan bases would give their left…for what we have. I realize all these things, but they don’t change my mind. I love Clemson for what it is, where it is, and what it represents. Not how they perform.

So, why am I starting a website that I don’t have the time nor tools to handle, that duplicates the market, and that is not results driven?

Because I love Clemson. The Town, the Team, the University. I love the orange and purple. The Hill, the Paw, the Rock. Tiger Rag & Tiger Shag.

And any chance to share that passion is an opportunity I can’t pass up.

This new website, thetigerswag.com, will be dedicated to bringing unique content and takes on all things Clemson. We will esteem those worthy of esteeming, ponder that which needs pondering, question everything, and above all – laugh. At others. At ourselves. And most of all, at our rival.

The new site will also have an email address: thetigerswag@gmail.com, a twitter account: twitter.com/thetigerswag, and (wait for it) a facebook fan page: facebook.com/thetigerswag.

So, if you’re ever in the area, please check it out, drop a line, and let me know what you think.

And hit me up on Facebook, too. Make it worth my while to be there.