PICKENS COUNTY — The Fighting Tigers of Clemson University were awarded with The Key to the County in a privately held ceremony on Monday night.
“This is pretty special,” said Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney. “We’re going to hang this proudly in the office where everyone can see it.”
A proclamation congratulating the coaches and players — including 10 players from Pickens County schools — on their win against Alabama was framed alongside a photograph of the city taken by Sheriff Rick Clark.
“The reason we did the Key to the County — it’s the first time we’ve done anything like this — it wasn’t just because you won the National Championship,” said Council Chairman Roy Costner to Swinney. “It’s because you embody the family values and the ‘keeping the faith’ and all those things you do that teaches us what ‘All In’ is.
“That’s what we want to have for Pickens County,” he said.
Costner said he was proud of the council for honoring the team as well as the messages the Tigers convey of perseverance, courage and a never give up attitude.
The resolution to present The Key was passed unanimously, despite some initial (jovial) misgivings from councilman Wes Hendricks, a Carolina graduate and former Gamecock player.
“I’d like to discuss something,” said Hendricks. “As a graduate of South Carolina, an alumni of the University of South Carolina, if I were to vote on this from my past I would not be able to vote in favor of this (resolution).
“However, I am voting as an elected official of Pickens County and would like to say congratulations on what they’ve accomplished. What they did was not easy, they earned it on the field — they worked very hard. You can’t deny them what they accomplished, they accomplished a lot.”
The well wishes marked a 180 for Hendricks who was a Carolina punter from 1984 to 1987 and had previously been quoted in Gamecock archives saying that his favorite memories of the Clemson game in 1984 was “giving them their first loss in orange pants.”
“I’d like to say, as a Gamecock, congratulations to these folks,” said Hendricks.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.