Renfrow vs. Alabama

Hunter Renfrow (13) of Clemson pulls in a catch vs. Alabama. The standout receiver says the Tigers did not have the right mindset in the Sugar Bowl.


NEW ORLEANS — Tickets for the Georgia-Alabama national championship game are setting records every day for the most expensive college football ticket ever.

The average price of a ticket sold at StubHub is $2,454, nearly $1,000 more than the second-highest ticket ever sold -- the Notre Dame-Alabama national championship in 2013.

With demand for this year’s all-SEC championship at an all-time high, many around the nation will join the 2017 Clemson Tigers in watching Monday's game on television (8 p.m., ESPN ).

“Yeah, I’m going to watch the game,” linebacker Kendall Joseph said. “I mean it is the last college football game of the season between two great teams. As a fan of the sport, why wouldn’t someone watch the game?”

While none of the Tigers stated which team he is pulling for in the national championship game, one thing is very clear: The Clemson players don’t like either team playing in the game.

One only needs to look to the past three seasons to find the reasons for the Tigers not liking the Tide, but look a few years further into the past and you'll find out why they don’t like the Bulldogs either — splitting a two-game series in 2013 and 2014.

“I’m going to watch it, but I don’t like either one of those two teams playing in the game,” Joseph said. “I mean, I respect them for what they have accomplished, but I don’t like them. It’s not like I’m going to be cheering for them or something. I will watch it because it is the championship and the final game, but, honestly, I don’t care for either team.”

Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow echoed the sentiments of his teammates, but his motives may not be as pure as his teammates.

Renfrow wants to watch the game not because it is the final game of the season but because watching the team that knocked the Tigers out of the playoffs will serve as extra motivation for the upcoming season.

“Absolutely, I’m going to watch the game. I want to see them lift up the trophy,” Renfrow said. “I can’t think of a better motivation for next year than to watch the team that knocked you out of the playoffs playing for the championship.

“It makes you hungrier. It makes you work a little harder in the weight room, in Mat Drills, in spring practice, when it is just you and your teammates at 10 at night. It makes you stay and work a little longer.”

That type of motivation is what pushed the Crimson Tide all of 2017.

Alabama linebacker Ronnie Evans and defensive back Ronnie Harrison watched last year’s national championship loss to Clemson a combined 150 times. Wide receiver Calvin Ridley and quarterback Jalen Hurts have pictures and posters with images from their loss covering their apartment and Hurts also changed the background on his phone to a photo of Clemson hoisting the trophy.

Now the Tigers will have to wait, much like Alabama did, until next season to hopefully earn a shot at redemption.

“I am going to watch that game and every snap of every play I’m going to be thinking to myself what I could have done different to have put us in that game,” defensive end Austin Bryant said. “This game, it is an awful feeling and I have no doubt that this game will give us all the motivation we need to make sure that this is the last time this team has to feel this way.”

Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat.


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