on December 1, 2007 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

USC fan on receiving end after Clemson’s 23-21 win

SENECA — Three seconds.

That’s how close Hometown Food Store employee and diehard Clemson fan Tony O’Kelley came to wearing USC gear, including chicken feet, for the second consecutive year. But Clemson placekicker Mark Buckholz put O’Kelley’s fears, and those of Tiger fans alike, to rest by nailing a 35-yard field goal as time expired for a 23-21 victory. Unfortunately, the loss was a hard one for USC fans — including Danny Thomas — to swallow. The loss was especially tough for Thomas, a fellow Hometown Food Store employee who began the non-monetary wager with O’Kelley in 2002, because it meant he would find himself on the receiving end of some serious payback.

“This really stinks,” Thomas said, with tongue half planted in his cheek.

Following four consecutive Clemson victories, which ended last year, O’Kelley spraypainted Thomas’ hair orange, and forced him to wear Clemson clothing consisting of a sweatshirt and pajama pants to go along with a Tiger cap. Last year, following USC’s victory, Thomas exacted revenge on O’Kelley through black washable paint, gel and hairspray as well as having his friend dress in a red USC sweatshirt, USC shorts (over jeans), shoes transformed into chicken feet and a tail.

“He got me really bad last year,” O’Kelley admitted. “I had 365 days to prepare for this.”

And prepare O’Kelley did. Although nixing the orange spray paint this year, O’Kelley ensured that his Gamecock buddy would literally be dressed from head to toe.

Thomas quickly transformed from garnet to orange, thanks to a Clemson Tiger mascot head, a purple wig, a Clemson vest containing a block “C,” a Clemson sweatshirt, Clemson shorts (over hose and pants), and orange colored shoes and socks while waving a large Tiger flag.

Although Thomas was required to wear the Tiger head all day Friday, O’Kelley repaid the kindness shown to him last year by not requiring Thomas to display a Clemson tag on his vehicle all year. In exchange for O’Kelley’s generosity, Thomas agreed to run around the store and say “Go Tigers” once an hour.

Last year, Thomas allowed O’Kelley to run around the store once an hour yelling “Cock-a-doodle-doo” as a result of South Carolina’s win.

“You have to think about it all year,” O’Kelley said, regarding the attire. “But the last 8-10 days, I really put it together.”

O’Kelley said he experienced a range of emotions prior to Buckholz’s game winning field goal.

“I was very concerned that I would be in the same boat,” O’Kelley said. “But once the field goal was good, it was like ‘Watch out Danny, here it comes!’”

Last year marked the first time that the loser had to take his “punishment” at the entrance of the store — allowing customers to receive a first hand look. O’Kelley made sure that same vantage point remained in play for Thomas this year.

“He’s (Thomas) good with it — he’s a good sport,” O’Kelley said.

O’Kelley said Thomas even offered a truce following the Clemson-USC contest, but was politely declined.

“I said ‘no’, we’ll never do that,” O’Kelley said. “Win or lose, people like to see it.”

Thomas said he hoped against hope that Buckholz, who had missed two field goals earlier in the game — including one from the same distance as his game winning kick — would miss one final time.

“I was on my knees,” Thomas said.

But now that USC has lost to Clemson for the ninth time in the last 11 meetings, including three consecutive games in Columbia, Thomas said there might be something to the “Chicken Curse” after all.

“The Chicken Curse is still there,” he said. “I still think (USC) Coach (Steve) Spurrier has the right touch, but we just can’t beat Clemson.”

O’Kelley said he and Thomas are good friends who never wager for money, just bragging rights and all the trimmings that go with a holiday win over one’s archrival.

“It’s all in fun,” O’Kelley said, adding, “We’ll be back next year.”

Jeff Lunsford, manager of Hometown Food Store, had a simple response to Thomas’ orange attire.

“How do you comment on that?” Lunsford asked.