Excitement in the air at Aiken County Clemson Club meeting

AIKEN — The excitement of Clemson’s last-second victory over Louisiana State University in the Chick-fil-A Bowl hasn’t subsided one bit.


Practically everyone associated with Clemson – from football coach Dabo Swinney to the most casual fan – is looking forward to the 2013 season.

So when a highlight reel of football moments from last season was played at Tuesday night’s Aiken County Clemson Club meeting, it was no surprise that a big cheer went up when the orange-clad Tigers beat the yellow-and-purple Tigers on New Year’s Eve.

Swinney, who is entering his fifth full season, isn’t backing down.

“At Clemson, it doesn’t matter what other people’s expectations are,” Swinney said after signing autographs for more than an hour. “You might be predicted to win five, but Clemson people expect to win them all. I love that. I think that’s the kind of program I want to be a part of, people who are passionate about it, and I don’t have any problem at all.”

Charlie Timmerman, a longtime Clemson fan from Aiken, agreed.

“Expectations are about as high as I’ve seen them,” Timmerman said. “And that’s to be expected coming off the LSU win and most everyone’s coming back.”

With quarterback Tajh Boyd and all-purpose player Sammy Watkins returning on offense, the Tigers are expected to have plenty of firepower again. All eyes will be on Clemson’s defense as Brent Venables looks to continue improvement in his second year as defensive coordinator.

Swinney and the Tigers open the season against Georgia, the first meeting between the schools since the Bulldogs beat Clemson 30-0 in 2003.

“It’s big. It’ll be our third top-10 team in a row playing South Carolina, LSU and now Georgia,” Swinney said. “Definitely not making it easy on us, that’s for sure, but what a great traditional game with a lot of history between Clemson and Georgia. It’s an honor to be a part of a game like that, certainly a huge challenge. I know our guys are excited and working hard.”

For fans like Timmerman, the Aug. 31 game has been circled on the calendar for a while.

“They don’t have to beat Clemson, but we need to beat Georgia,” Timmer­man said. “Georgia’s got to beat South Carolina the next week. I think Georgia-Clemson is a great rivalry and should be played every year.”

On the basketball front, coach Brad Brownell is looking for improvement after last season’s 13-18 campaign.

Brownell said he expects former Laney standout Rod Hall to be part of the turnaround.

“We’ve had some kids like Rod Hall who’ve been in the program two years now and got good experience and kind of had to learn on the job,” he said. “That experience is going to bode well for them their junior and senior years.”