More about Herschel Walker during the COVID pause

Published 5:43 pm Monday, January 17, 2022

It was strange not being in a high school gym Friday night. They’re not bad places to be anytime, but they are particularly inviting in mid-January when it’s cold outside and conference action is heating up.

Not to be, however. Because of staff shortages and other COVID-19 related concerns, Beaufort County decided to give everyone Friday and Tuesday off to make the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday into a full-fledged break.

I will spare you the full rant about me being amazed that we are still dealing with virus-related disruptions, but I am for sure.

I would have been at Southside for the Seahawks-Northside girls and boys showdowns, but that was shelved until Feb. 5. Oh well, I will rearraign my Saturday and show up.

Anyway, during this five day break with dark gyms, very limited access to coaches and none to players, a phone message got me thinking about Herschel Walker once again.

I mentioned him last week after Georgia beat Alabama for its first national title since the 1980-81 season when the running back was a freshman.

A loyal reader phoned in to say that she enjoyed the column and had her own Walker story to share.

Turns out, she’s a Clemson fan. Hard to come by in these parts, but I do know of two others in Beaufort County, so she’s not alone.

She very proudly pointed out that Walker, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1982 after his junior season and racked up 52 touchdowns in three years, never scored against the Tigers.

One of my guiding principles is trust, but verify. It’s easier than it used to be, so I let Google do the work and sure enough, zero touchdowns against Clemson for one of the greatest running backs in college football history.

His team won twice in Athens and lost in Death Valley in 1981 when he fumbled three times and his team turned it over nine times against the eventual national champions.

Since there wasn’t as much activity as usual in my brain during the COVID pause, my thoughts wondered back to the mid-80’s when I was working for the radio station in Gaffney, S.C.

I was new to the South, but the station owner, Raymond Parker, took me under his wing and successfully attempted to change my allegiance from the mediocre at best Missouri Tigers to his Clemson Tigers.

We carried their games on the FM side and the South Carolina Gamecocks on the AM and even had a giant rock shaped like an arrowhead painted half orange and half red outside the station entrance.

He shrewdly pointed out that Gamecock fans spent money too, so he was happy to give them a product to sponsor and an outlet on which to follow their team.

Mr. Parker was a big enough deal in the IPTAY booster club to get Danny Ford to come speak to the local Rotary Club and to park under the stadium for games. It was a short trip to his seats on the 50-yard line.

He gave me his tickets many times over the three years I worked for him and my wife and I had many fun Saturday’s at Death Valley.

I appreciate reader feedback anytime and am glad the nice lady called to share her story. It’s also fun to warm up a little during a cold weekend with pleasant memories.

I’m glad there will be games to cover starting Wednesday night and here’s hoping we won’t have any more pauses. Don’t get me started on snow.