Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Interview Part II

I remember arriving in a loaded up car, with two children and Danny, sitting on the bank of a Lake with a sandwich from a place called Subway.  I thought now this is a beautiful place.  I think I can live here and where is all the meat on this sandwich. lol  I also have memory of thinking OMG I will have to drive to another town to find panty hose.  Women wore those back then.  People use to ask me if I liked the places we moved.  I always said I knew I liked them before I ever got there.  I just made my mind up.  Small town, good schools, good people, great opportunity this is going to be a great place for our family I just know it.

We will never forget the opportunity Charlie Pell gave us here in Clemson.  He was a great coach.  His wife set the pace I was going to have to try to maintain.  She was perfect.  Perfect hair, skin, teeth and posture.  She was a great support to Coach Pell and always said and did the right thing with the media, fans and players as well as us wives.  The standard had been set and it was high.

Florida came in and swooped him up, one night we thought.  Right before Clemsons upcoming bowl game.  The staff remained.  I think everyones pride was hurt maybe that Charlie left Clemson.  It was a great opportunity and he took it.

I remember Mr. Ford telling me before Danny and I got married, "your fixing to marry a man who wants to be a head football college coach one day."  "Think you can handle it."  I thought yes sir I can and he will be one day.  Little did I know so soon nor what it would be like.   Clemson named Danny as Head Football Coach of Clemson.  He kept all the staff and Ohio State was coming up sooner than we could blink an eye.  His very first game was against the legend Woody Hayes.  The players tell the story of Danny sitting in the back of the bus, on the floor on the way to the game throwing up.  This was only a taste of what he was going to face in his career that was bigger than life.  Little did he know or could imagine how the night would transpire.  Coach Hayes hit one of our players as he lost control of his anger. Danny was so upset he thought it should have been dealt with in a less sever way years before hand.  Our team ran over to him and Danny quickly and appropriately, ran ahead of the team trying to stop the stampede.  We, the wives, didn't even know what was happening.  Not until after the game did we hear of the most unfortunate incident.  Two days later Coach Hays was released from being head coach at Ohio State University.  I was upset that something so awful had dominated the media and something as great as the first win for this team was hardly mentioned.  Danny was grieved to the bone over it all.  His heart was broken.  He never mentioned the win only the sadness of what had happened to the awesome coach Woody Hayes and Danny's player.

A couple of really good years followed.  Danny always attributed it to the great recruiting of coach Parker and the talent that was already here.  The coach at Clemson before Coach Pell.  The next year was not good.  There were rumblings and even talk, had they acted too soon in hiring someone as young as Danny.  It was only Gods grace we were not fired then and there.  But the powers that may, the wonderful A.D. Bill McClellan, President R.C. Edwards decided to take another chance.  I am sure Coach Howard had something to do with that also.  He was always in Danny' corner.  Coach Howard told Danny after the National Championship game that his only problem was the only way to go from here was down and he would die laughing.

We were off to Miami to play Nebraska.  Danny always took the players down two weeks ahead of the game, which was unheard of to most teams.  He felt the conditioning to the weather always played a big part in winning, especially over schools from the North.  I had to figure out how to clothe two children and a baby in 100 degree weather in the middle of the winter.  Clothing Danny, me, the kids, preparing for sitters for the girls, sometimes I had two wonderful sitters to help me. Lots of times we would have activities and GA's would care for the children.  If it we were going to be at a bowl during Christmas how would I get the gifts there and home?  The kids use to love spending Christmas with Micky.  We would fly to the bowl games.  The assistant wives would have to drive most of the time but that never stopped them.  When we arrived at the hotel all of our luggage was not there.  Our luggage had been lost, one really large one containing the girls clothes and some of mine.  When the day ended and it did not turn up, a couple of GA's went to Walmart and bought the girls a couple of bubble suits and bathing suits. The GA's carried me through many times with many things.  I would get ready to go somewhere, to an event and my shoes would be missing or a blouse.  I think I had a migraine all week.  Sitters were out the house expensive.  I kept thinking if we win it will be worth all this.  Danny was late for the main press conference before the game.  He jumped a fence and tore his bran new blazer.  The media wrote about the under dog coach with his green jacket and navy pants coming to the press conference with a hole in his jacket.  Danny would say, that is ok.  As the year had progressed and the team just kept on winning it was evident they were getting better and better.  They indeed were Cinderella.   We really were just two country bumpkins from a small town in Alabama who was in a bigger than life wonderland situation.  Clemson University had defeated the nationally known coach Jim Osborne and the University of Nebraska, for the first National Championship in football it had ever known.  Danny was the youngest head coach to win a National Championship.The win came and all that went with it.  As always he knew it would not have been possible without his team and staff and the support of the fans.

One typical day with the girls and now a 6 month old baby girl to boot, Elizabeth, the girls were fighting.  I got very angry with them.  I could see myself doing this more and more.  I called Danny and said you have got to come home and do something.  He came home and spanked them.  I think it made him sick.  He said don't ever do that.  I can't let the time they see me be spanking them. I saw how unfair this was to all of them, Danny and the girls.  I use to go over and take picnics and we would meet with the girls at the duck pond or on the practice field.   I vowed that day to not call him again for discipline.  I also vowed never to yell at them again.  I pulled up my boot straps and somehow deep within me I said I can handle this and I got stronger and more dependent on myself to handle anything.

After the National Championship game we went downtown as Danny talked from a platform to the sea of orange fans that had followed all that way to Miami.  Later Danny was presented with a Jaguar car from the Alumni.  It was white with an orange stripe down the side.  Life was going faster than I could take it all in.  It was so magical.  I was going through the motions.  It all was so over my head I could hardly take it all in.  I don't think til this day it has really hit me what and all we have been allowed to be a part of.  Over the ups and downs we had all become a family, the fans, players, staff and even some of the media.  I always tried to have a relationship with as many of the regular media people who carried Clemson. They were so very good to Danny and our family.  Danny had a way of really caring about people. After Press Day he use to load the media up in the back of his pick up truck and take them around.  I use to get on to him about his English.  The media would quote him with his ant or naw exactly with a spit, it always got on camera.  He had a masters degree in Special Education and was on the Deans List.  He was just going to be who he was no matter who he was, with Mr Smith in town or the President of the United States in the White House.  People and the media liked that, the players and the staff.  They knew he was sincere as he was with each one individually and together.  That is why he was so successful at recruiting great athletics.  He took the time to form relationships not only with the players but mostly their mama's.  He would always end up in the kitchen with the mamas.  He use to say if the mama likes you and thinks you are going to take care of her boy you got a chance and he did take care of them with everything in him.  He had been taught well.  I remember him bringing a young, homesick kid home from football camp.  We fed him and took him to the movies.  Danny was like that.

The opportunities for us as a team and family that came because of the Nebraska win came flooding in. Danny was now nationally visible.  His accomplishments were known nation wide.  He got honor after honor, coach of the year and so many more from one important group to person of significance by the worlds standards and their own accomplishments.  He and this team and staff had put Clemson on the map.  No one would ever ask again Clemson who?  Where is that?  I was being interviewed even more.  It never occurred to me I couldn't handle what ever came my way nor that Danny nor my children could.  God had put us in this unbelievable place and somehow gave us the personalities and equipping to handle most any situation with love and grace.

 I have already written about the visit to see President Reagan.  The team was invited to play Japan.  So we went to Japan.  It is a really long way.  I remember the stop in Alaska in the middle of the day pitch dark.  They, the Japanese had Japanese food outside the stadium like we have hot dogs. Chop sticks and all.  Danny wasn't much on the mush steaks, because they massaged their beef, but he even knew people in Japan that knew him and of Clemson. The Japanese shook their shakers continually no matter which team had the ball.  I don't know if they understood the game or not.  I remember going to a dinner with our hosts.  When we got to Japan they had given me clothes.  They were complicated to put on the undergarments and all the rest.  I told Danny I decided I wanted to go to that particular dinner dressed like them.  So I went down stairs to the beauty shop in the hotel and ask them to dress me.  They couldn't stop laughing, bent over and snickering in a very lady like manner,  while getting me dressed for this most special dinner. If I remember correctly it took three of them all working together.  As we arrived our host felt so special and honored that I would come as they were, they said.  Looking as they did.  It was a God thing.  Now all I had to do was eat raw fish uggggh!  Danny had absolutely no problem with any of it.  It was amazing.

 I remember the castles and tears of flowers draped about the mountains with layers of rock and beaches, mostly rock in Montecarlo, Italy.  All the stores closed in the middle of the afternoon and a siesta was taken.  We were no exception.  Danny spent most of his time touring the castles.  We had to fly home after two days of being there the quickest way home possible.  At that time it was on the concord. It seemed, faster than light, long, narrow and unbelievably fast. We were there in, it seemed half the time.   Danny's mother had a emergency surgery which she recovered very well.

There was the cruise we took and Danny watching Elizabeth while I took Jennifer and Ashleigh snorkeling.  I lost Jennifer!   I remember the parasailing in Cancun, Mexico.  The guys pulling us driving the boats told me when we landed that someone almost hit one of the high rise hotels the day before.  Danny couldn't believe I did that.  He just stood on the beach and watched me.  I guess I was a rebel.  It was one of the most freeing experiences I have ever had, besides now, my life in Christ.  I didn't know that then.  We use to go to games and I would hear from the wives if we won, the whole team was coming to the house after the game. I always chose to sit in the stands instead of the box.  I had to feel which way the momentum was going.   This happened quiet often people in our home after the games.  It was quiet a celebration.  Sometimes recruits parents. I had a gorgeous house provided by the University with a tiger paw in the bottom of the swimming pool and a Southern Living kitchen designed by the University homemakers department.  People would even lean over the back brick wall fence at times and take pictures.  Danny always had all the arrangements made for food and clean up for the parties.  I sent the girls to Millie Lewis to learn good manners.  I would go to all the games home and away with the team.  My discontent and unhappiness grew.  In so many ways we were such a team, Danny and I.  I always knew, no matter how hard it got, Danny really was who I was meant to marry and to spend my life with and that God had this incredible plan and we were privileged, graced to be a part of it. I think he knew the same or he would have been long gone by now.  I just knew something was wrong, bad wrong.  And I thought it was all him.  We seemed to be living two different lives but in the same world.  Danny was oblivious to my struggle.  He was sharing with me all he knew, his love for sports, athletes, and competition.  He thought I was a wonderful wife.

I have rambled enough.  I will tell you about that tomorrow.  Thanks again for all your love and support to these two people who for some unknown reason to me, God poured His grace on beyond any story book I had ever read.

I was going to write today but think I am just gonna be with friends, family and worship.  I am gonna think about this tomorrow.  For tomorrow is another day!  Lord willing...