Paw-Mania

Tiger Territory

CLEMSON, S.C.--There's a lot of local color here.

Orange, that is.

When you drive into this small Southern town, it's pretty obvious that you're entering Tiger territory--every 10 yards there is an orange pawprint painted on the road.

The paws are on the banks, the gas stations, the grocery stores, the book shops--even the local movie theatre.

And right in the middle of Clemson's soccer stadium--brand new Riggs Field where Harvard meets San Diego St. in the NCAA semifinal today--there's a huge imprint of "the paw."

If there's one thing you can say about Clemson, it's that the Tigers have school spirit. The Harvard soccer players were given Tiger memorabilia when they checked in, complete with a flourescent orange pom-poms and their own sew-on paw patches.

Not exactly the souvenirs the booters hoped to bring back from this Final Four weekend. An NCAA championship ring is what they're looking for.

But sophomore forward Derek Mills was excited. He--get this--likes orange. A lot. Enough to pick the Tigers as his favorite Division I football team.

Mills, a native of Scotland, watched Clemson in his first-ever televised American college football game. And one look at the color of their uniforms was enough to make him a lifetime fan.

"They were orange," Mills said. "That was good enough for me."

Tiger fans, like Mills, take their orange seriously. They're proud of making the Guiness Book of World Records for releasing 363,729 orange balloons before the Tigers-Maryland footballgame in Memorial Stadium, better known as "DeathValley."

The site of 80,000 orange-clad fans must be akiller. It'll at least blind the opposition.

Clemson is the only town in the United Stateswhere the site of a six-foot tiger on the loosedoesn't shock anyone. And 400-pound men in orangeoveralls don't even elicit a second glance.

Almost half the shops on the short, half-milestrip here are painted orange. There's the TigerTavern, Tiger Park, Tiger Bookstore and the TigerBubble Baths (that's a car wash, by the way).

Even the Southern dirt is orange.CrimsonDavid K. EldenSophomore NICK D'ONOFRIO (right)