Clemson Football Championship Parade

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The parade starts at 10:00 a.m.  The parade starts between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.  The parade starts at 9:30 a.m.  The parade starts at 9:00 a.m. 

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Okay, is it worth traveling from Atlanta to get there, park, walk to the parade route, and spend the majority of a day celebrating the accomplishments of others?  Well, yes.  It’s been 35 years since Clemson has won it all in football, and it just felt right.  As it turned out, it felt right to about 65,000 other people as well.

Coach Dabo Swinney revealed the night of the Championship game that the parade had already been planned.  And why not?  Last year, after a narrow loss, over 2,000 fans greeted the team upon their late night return home.  Poor Alabama.  Their current team came within a second of finishing #1, and to show their lack of appreciation, all but 12 of them shunned the team’s return.  It’s definitely time for a party.  Only, what would this parade look like?  Well, there it begins, below.

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This guy had a pretty funny poster, a mostly hated nemesis for Clemson fans as Steve Spurrier formerly coached an undistinguished state school in Columbia.  That said, he was kind of funny, and it turns out he and Swinney are decent friends, and Spurrier even argued that Clemson beat Alabama this year rather than taking an opportunity to say Alabama, a 6.5 point favorite, blew it.  Happy to have you in the club, Steve.

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The parade began with the flags, followed by Tiger, the Kid Tiger, The President of the University, Clemson’s Mayor, members of the Board of Trustees and their families…  Anyway, one such was Dan Radakovich, widely credited for stepping up Clemson’s financial ability to build a gigantic football operations center and other improvements.  Great.  Good job, Dan.  That said, maybe you should lose the jacket your wore at your former job as AD at Georgia Tech.  I know, it’s difficult to find a sports coat to match orange so, don’t.  Just stick with orange.

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Then, of course, comes the Swinneys.  Dabo, wife, and three sons.

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They get two pictures because they’re ROYALTY.

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Dan Venables, the Defensive Coordinator, was next.  He looks just as intense enjoying himself as he does coaching from the sideline.  In a good way.

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Other coaches, including the offensive co-coordinators, position coaches, and strength coach also had their chariots – a mix of antique cars, jeeps, trucks and… whatever was volunteered I guess, including an orange fire truck for the kids of coaches to ride on.  Other floats had… a fairly good showing of members of the 1981 Championship football team.  Only a few wore their numbers, though.  Then groupings of players from the pre 1980’s, the 1990’s, and the 2000’s followed.   Then came the evidence of what it takes to run a major football program.  Recruiting staff and helpers, a horde of video editors (likely that cut and splice “film” for player study prior to each game, a surprising number of sports medicine staff, and then strength/power/speed conditioning and nutrition staff, football operations and… they’re all a part of it, just unknown to the average fan.  Then comes the star power.  Quarterback Deshaun Watson and linebacker Ben Boulware were first up.  Watson will earn more when he signs a professional contract in a few months than I’ve earned in my career.  I’m okay with that. 

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Part of being a fan is “following” a team.  Swinney allows certain players, presumably with the maturity and speaking skills, an ample spotlight for interviews with the media after each game.  These are posted on line and over the course of seasons, you get to know some of the players in a sense.  One of those is Jay Guillermo, the offensive Center.  Funny, good communicator, and great Dabo impersonations.  With him is tight end Jordan Leggett, who made some key receptions in the game. 

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In any case, Christian Wilkins and Hunter Renfroe broke the zipped up form of the rest of the team with the Orange Smurf warm-up suits.  It’s a parade, but it looks like they’re on the bank of a river fishing.  Both played huge roles in the victory.

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After the parade, the crowd headed for the stadium for a planned program of speeches.  My wife and I took a few moments to shop for awesome gear in the relaxed environment and… yeah, stand in the middle of the street.  Because I could.

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Meanwhile back at the stadium, people were on the field, the lower section was closed off, and many others went to the upper decks.  Tiger Rag, played by the band and… it gets the crowd pumped.

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What followed were… speeches.  I’ll skip the details.  It was worth it, despite all the obligatory “Thank you” extended to everyone and their father and mother.  Coach Swinney spoke for about 30 minutes, offering a couple sermons worth of Christian and football messages.  Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens [us].“  To which he added, “And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that number 4 threw it to number 13 for a touchdown.”  And regarding the forecast rain?  “You show up in January and get a day like this?  You tell me God ain’t a Clemson fan?  Come on man – come on!”

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And, there was the presentation of American Football Coaches Association trophy, presented by Amway.  This is the crystal trophy that used to be “it” before the playoff system began a few years ago.  I guess it’s nice to have both in the cupboard.  Swinney hoisted both during the ceremony.

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And, if you have 15 seconds… try this.

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Boccerball Bracket Replacement

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Back possibly in the early 1990’s, a former Ohio State football player invented Boccerball.  It’s a game room table (due to its approx. 4’ length) where a small soccer ball is placed in the middle and players at opposing ends drop steel balls down chutes across the width of the table trying to  1) direct the soccer ball into the opponent’s goal or 2) stop the ball from entering their own.   It’s fun, though quite noisy, requiring players to simultaneously gather balls returned to a discharge tray while keeping an eye on the table and putting balls in play.  It’s fairly frenetic and… the collecting trays break due to relatively rough play.

Boccerball broken tray  hinge bracket

Boccerball broken tray  hinge bracket

The first time this happened, I found the manufacturer, Regent Sports, online and ordered replacement parts.  The second time (years later)… I found their website, now a division of Ball, Bounce and Sport, Inc.  Squirreled away in their “Customer Support” tab, there’s a notice:
“… Regent Sports Corporation… the company that formerly manufactured all of the Halex table games, went out of business in December, 2012.”  To cut it short, the new company bought “certain assets and licensing rights” that did not include the Boccerball table.  “From what we gather, the former Regent Sports Corporation, due to its financial condition, did not order replacement parts to satisfy service requests.”  Blah blah and “Additional internet research may be the only way to discover [replacement parts].”  Great.

So I searched and found several forums where people like me would search for answers to no avail.  And then, I remembered My Blue Robot, a 3D printing diversion wherein I convinced my daughter to show her dad how things are done in the 21st century.   So instead of Google searching “Boccerball parts” in all sorts of variations, I searched “Boccerball bracket 3d print” and there it was at Thingiverse.com, the same site that had my robot print instructions.

Boccerball broken tray  hinge bracket

So, thank you, Jack Marshall, whoever you are, for thing:63416.  Not only did my buddy Jack create a straightforward replacement part, but he either had the same unfortunate breaks that I had or he had excellent foresight into how else it might fail.  In my case, the bracket on one side broke, but the spindle, a part of the tray mold, snapped off in the bracket on the other side, the remnant of which can be seen below.

Boccerball broken tray  hinge bracket

So he designed brackets for both situations.  In my case, one was a straightforward replacement, and the other required drilling a 1/4” hole into the collection tray where the spindle used to be, so that the new spindle on the bracket could stick through.  My daughter, conveniently a new owner of a 3D printer, made both designs with mirror images, not certain on which I needed on each side.   Below is a print of a replacement bracket that’s been trimmed and the other, including the spindle, prior to trimming.

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After a very minor mess, here’s the completed installation, completely functional and otherwise inconspicuous.

Boccerball broken tray  hinge bracket

So, I thought I’d put this “out there” for other table owners to access, knowing others are suffering similarly, if they kept their tables this long…   You just need to find someone with a 3D printer, or perhaps your local Tech school/college has one.

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Butch Trucks Band–Live at City Winery

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One bright spot about the holidays ending was a concert after my first day back at work.  Even better when its a fairly intimate venue, there’s a bluesy kick ass band, and you’re sitting next to the stage.

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Butch Trucks and the Freight Train Band kicked off their set with “Hot ‘Lanta,” an Allman Brothers instrumental.  This is appropriate, because this is also a blues/rock band, and Trucks was the original drummer for that band.  He’s touring in his second year, I think, with a gradually shifting set of players both since its inception and through the evening. 

One hope when attending concerts is that the artists interact with the audience, adding personality beyond what can be heard in recordings or even observed while they play.  Trucks has no issues in that regard.  A drummer, he took center stage to chat, and it’s clear that the warmth and authenticity of the performance starts with its founder.  From an entertaining band T-shirt, to music trivia, to singing a Dylan cover – never mind the drumming – it was great to see and hear the joy that he maintains in performing.  Hearing the band is a joy as well.

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Keyboards were tended by former Gregg Allman bandmate Bruce Katz, who added a somewhat jazzy organ vibe throughout the night.  The front of the stage included three guitarists, which might be about what it takes to night after night on a variety of Allman Brothers and other blues music.  These included Chris Vitarello, Damon Fowler, and 22 year old Heather Gillis, who is already making her presence known in the blues community.  Each handled solos more than capably, because that’s what’s required for blues/southern rock musicians.  Rounding out the stage were percussionist  Garrett Dawson and new (to the band) bassist Matt Walker.  A little research after the concert shows that about everyone has or had their own band and has earned their way to play with a number of blues legends such as Allman Band subsets and John Hammond.

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That, I think, is the core band, but it’s hard to tell when people rotate through.  The performance not only seemed to have the affection of a family affair, it actually was.  Butch’s son Vaylor played guitar several times, and Vaylor’s daughter sang on a couple of songs as well.

Highlights included pretty much all of it.  I particularly enjoyed the cover of the Allman’s “Dreams” sung by Lamar Williams, Jr., who suited the vibe of the song perfectly, augmented by Gillis’ tone and fluency of her guitar.  I also enjoyed the cover of Jeff Beck’s “Freeway Jam” and the Allman’s “Statesboro Blues.”

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I’d like to say I enjoyed “Elizabeth Reed” and “Whipping Post,” but it was a work night with miles to travel before I slept.  I don’t actually know if they played those songs, as a venue hand seemed to be encouraging them to wrap things up.  When we left, it was apparent that others had already done the same, unfortunately.

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Which leads me to the opening act, Donna the Buffalo – their name resulting from a misheard “Dawn of the Buffalo.”   The best thing about this band was the opening comment, “It’s Tuesday night.  Let’s treat it well.”  Otherwise, it was pleasant but not for me… and too lengthy a set.  This is a Grateful Dead-ish band, with a feel good, jam/dance vibe with an occasional Americana influence.  I don’t mind any of those things, and I credit them for building a following called “The Herd” which were amply present during the show.  That said, I’d have traded all of their set for the extra two songs by the Freight Train, in part but not wholly due to the fact that if I hear an accordion, I’m 99% certain not to like it.  It takes an instrumental foil of Sonny Landreth proportions to make me tolerate that for any length of time…

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Click here for complete set of photos.

Set List:

Hot ‘Lanta (Allmans)
Trouble No More (Muddy Waters)
Freeway Jam (Jeff Beck)
Subterranean Homesick Blues (I think) (Dylan)
Up the Line (Little Walter)
Dreams (Allmans)
Jessica (Allmans)
Everyday (Allmans)
Statesboro Blues (Allmans)
Hippie Song (original)
Stand Back (Allmans)
Ophelia (The Band)
Goddammitt (original)
In Memory of Elizabeth Reed (Allmans)
Whipping Post (Allmans)

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