Ah, college football. There exists no finer an institution, except for anything you can do indoors with air conditioning. I love college football. You’ll see shit there that you’ll never ever see in the pros, like the option, the spread offense, or two people having sex at the top of the upper deck during a day game. Oh yes. Everybody was scoring that day. I was in the marching band for 3 years of college, just long enough to receive a letter jacket. For band. Back then, I coveted that damn jacket. I wanted it something fierce, and those three years of servitude were well worth the reward of wearing a purple wool jacket that said “Tiger Marching Band” on it. (I wore the jacket exactly 4 times ever, and it now resides somewhere in the back of my closet along with the extra pillows and my Intellivision.) Being in the band afforded me the opportunity to go to nearly every away game on the schedule, except for the time when the football team and some of the band got to go to Japan. I was left home to sulk and consider how I could sneak Ex-Lax into the band director’s hot chocolate. But I wasn’t bitter or anything. Away games were the best…you got a free trip to a strange town, people paid for your meals, and being drunk went without saying. It was on one of these trips (to a bowl game in Florida on New Year’s) where I received the worst drunk of my life, never to ever be repeated, unless I win the lottery. Or if I come one number away from winning. Oh, there will be copious amounts of alcohol consumed if I’m one number away. Anyway!

October 10, 1992, Clemson at Virginia. Anyone who has ever been to a game at UVA can tell you that they’re among the worst fans in college football. They’re arrogant, cocky, conceited, pretentious, self-focused, self-centered and utterly reprehensible – and that’s just the damn cheerleaders. They are HORRIBLE fans. Smug bastards. At the time, they didn’t even have a real marching band – they just had a pep band comprised of a bunch of losers in orange vests who did little more than mock the opposing team’s band. Being in the opposing team’s band myself, this was a problem.

Clemson was down 28-0 at halftime of that game, and the UVA fans were in rare form. To that point, UVA hadn’t beaten Clemson in 30 years — 30 YEARS! — and they could smell blood in the water. UVA was utterly dominant, riding roughshod over CU’s offense and defense. As the band was lining up to take the field at halftime, this pretty, matronly, MILFish woman who was sitting just behind the CU bench was yelling some of the most foul, obscene, and insanely horrible shit at the players. I believe I heard her say something to the effect of “I wouldn’t let my worst enemy screw your ugly-ass girlfriend with a borrowed cock!” I couldn’t believe my ears.

As a rule, the visiting team’s band is the first to perform at a football game, unless something special (like Homecoming) is going on. We took the field, performed our Disney show, and settled onto the sidelines to watch UVA’s band do its routine. But this time those punks went too far. They mocked US. They staggered around the field, mis-playing our school’s fight song, and bringing out a fake Clemson mascot that they beat up and ridiculed. This was too much. One does NOT screw with another school’s fight song when that school is in attendence. Several of us immediately jumped up to storm the field – the fact that the game was on national television meant nothing to us. NO ONE fucks with our mascot and fight song. Plus, being down 28-0 and also being drunker than Irish pirates (we knew how to party), we were already predisposed to placing our collective foot into someone’s ass, but our drum majors managed to talk some sense into us.

Clemson rallied, and won the game 29-28. Hysteria broke out. Clemson people were too happy, UVA fans were too mad. The band was going nuts, playing “Tiger Rag” over and over as we walked back to the buses. Problem was, the buses were about a mile away, and it was a night game, and UVA had lost. Drunken fans get real brave at night. On that 20 minute walk, I was threatened twice with a knife, once with a gun, and once with an aluminum baseball bat. Fortunately, the idiots weren’t drunk enough to override their common sense. One guy started talking shit and slashing at me with his butterfly knife. Full of confidence, I looked at him sideways, and said “Son, you’ve got a 5 inch blade, and I’ve got a 12 inch trumpet. Do you really think you’ll make contact before I will?” He thought about it – you could nearly see the whiffs of smoke leaving lazy trails above his head while he pondered – and decided to back off. Once I had realized what I had done, I immediately had to pee, out of fright. I’m quite the he-man, I am.

I also stole Torry Holt’s receiving gloves in broad daylight at an away game at N.C. State, but that’s another story.

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