In Focus: Clemson, FSU give fans reasons to be loyal

By John Clayton, Staff Reporter
Published on Sunday, September 23, 2012

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For most of three quarters Saturday night, Clemson gave its fans just about everything they could ask for. It’s just that Florida State was in it for the duration in the Seminoles’ 49-37 ACC victory.

It’s almost silly now to think that FSU won’t run the table in the ACC. Maybe Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, but that’s a longshot.

We all had to choose at some point in our lives – Carolina or Clemson? That’s part of growing up in this state, and my first big-college football game was in Death Valley for what was once dubbed the Textile Bowl between Clemson and N.C. State.

I think I was 10 and with all the orange and the Tiger Rag and the crowd, I was awed. So, I still pull for Clemson when I’m not in the press box there, when it’s just me and my TV.

But Florida State? Well, there are a couple of reasons to root for them, too, if you don't bleed orange and purple.

Reason No. 1: Former head coach Bobby Bowden once afforded me the opportunity to use the words “dadgum” and “bumfuzzled” in the same game story when I covered Notre Dame-FSU in Tallahassee several years ago.

And Reason No. 2 revolves around a Seminole recruit from Tampa, Fla., named Richy Klepal.

Klepal, an offensive lineman a recruiting expert ranked the 221st best player in the nation, suffered the fifth concussion of his playing career this season.

But this one was different than the others. An MRI detected a hemorrhage in his brain.

Another severe blow, another concussion, could kill him.

The choice, he said, was no choice. Klepal had to give up football.

It was a dadgum shame.

FSU, which had made a scholarship offer that Klepal accepted, had a choice. But head coach Jimbo Fisher, the man who succeeded the legendary Bowden, decided to honor the deal and award the valuable scholarship to Klepal.

It was a classy move – and like Clemson coach Dabo Swinney’s walk-on offer to U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient Daniel Rodriguez who is currently on the Tigers’ roster – it provides a little clarity and hope in the often bumfuzzly world of big-time college football.

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