Benefits of ‘Clemsoning’

Fans watched their Tigers ‘Clemsoning’ against West Virginia in a 70-33 loss in the 2012 Orange Bowl

Children in some South Carolina households quickly learn that “Clemsoning” killed Goliath.

Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush hope to avoid it.

Have you watched the consistently “Clemsoning” Atlanta Braves attempt to play something resembling baseball lately?

“Clemsoning” is so appropriate, so misunderstood.

Flexible, too.

South Carolina kicks off the college football season Thursday night against North Carolina in Charlotte, and absolutely must avoid a “Clemsoning” performance like the opening stumble against Texas A&M that haunted the Gamecocks throughout 2014.

Since the Urban Dictionary added “Clemsoning” in 2012 — “The act of delivering an inexplicably disappointing performance, usually within the context of a college football season” — Clemson has gone 32-7.

It’s more likely that “Clemsoning” has motivated Clemson into becoming one of the top programs in the country.

Ask the Oklahoma Sooners, who just endured a long offseason after “Clemsoning” in a 40-6 Russell Athletic Bowl loss to the Tigers.

“Clemsoning” origin: While no individual can take credit (or blame) for coining the term, most sports sociologists and a group of behavioral scientists with withering grant money believe it originated in a fashionable Columbia “Man Cave” where seven Gamecock fans and a Boykin spaniel regularly gathered to watch the Tigers struggle against Wake Forest during the Tommy Bowden era.

Nationwide acceptance: “Clemsoning” gained momentum during the 2011 season, when Clemson got off to a sizzling 8-0 start, reached No. 6 in the Associated Press poll and won its first ACC championship since 1991 but lost regular-season games to underdogs Georgia Tech and N.C. State and got clobbered at South Carolina, 34-14. It really took off when, as three-point favorites, Clemson suffered a 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. It was so bad, attending Tiger fans enthusiastically donated souvenir T-shirts at Goodwill outlets all along I-95.

ESPN analyst Jesse Palmer has made “Clemsoning” more popular over the last few seasons, which is strange for three reasons:

Clemson since 2011 has limited authentic “Clemsoning” to a 27-17 loss to South Carolina and untested backup quarterback Dylan Thompson in 2012 and a 51-14 loss to Florida State and Jameis Winston in 2013, both at home.

Arch-rival South Carolina was guilty of “Clemsoning” four times last season, against Texas A&M, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee (and yet “Gamecocking” never really caught on).

Some people think Palmer, who played quarterback for Steve Spurrier at Florida, did some “Clemsoning” in the NFL and as star of “The Bachelor” in 2004.

But “Clemsoning” is a relative term.

Vanderbilt almost went “Clemsoning” in a 21-20 victory over Charleston Southern last October. And CSU certainly wants to avoid “Clemsoning” Thursday night at Buccaneer Field against North Greenville.

North Greenville, of course, must guard against “Clemsoning” later this season when playing host to upstart University of God’s Chosen.

For Urban Meyer’s No. 1-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, “Clemsoning” means losing any regular-season game.

“Every now and then when I listen in to your show, I know the SEC fans are a little upset at Ohio State’s schedule and rightfully so to tell you the truth,” Spurrier, South Carolina’s head coach, said Monday on Paul Finebaum’s nationally telecast ESPN Radio show. “But that’s just the way it is and how it works out for all of us. I remember several years ago, Texas A&M had four sort of gimme games outside the conference, and then eight conference games.”

Ohio State is the reigning national champion, but has gone “Clemsoning” more recently than Clemson, losing to Virginia Tech in the 2014 opener.

The Buckeyes also lost to Clemson at the Orange Bowl (of all “Clemsoning” places) just 20 months ago.

From the Urban Dictionary to Urban Meyer, “Clemsoning” persists — even for coaches who would rather offer scholarships to non-prospect spaniels than acknowledge the danger of “Clemsoning” in discussing a season opener.

“You don’t think a game is big?” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said this week. “Lose it and you’ll find out real quick how big that game is.”

Clemson, according to ESPN computers, has a 99 percent chance to defeat Wofford on Saturday at Death Valley.

That’s in big part because since that West Virginia nightmare, Clemson is inspired more than any other program to avoid “inexplicably disappointing” performances that smell much worse by another name.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff