As the athletics director at Clemson, Dan Radakovich has a little game to attend Saturday in upstate South Carolina.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t keep an eye on what’s going on in Middle Georgia, at least for the early part of the evening.
In fact, his son, Grant, is sure of it.
Grant Radakovich is the starting tight end for Mercer, and the Bears will open their first season in 72 years Saturday against Reinhardt. The game kicks off at 6 p.m., about the same time the Clemson and Georgia football teams will be arriving at Memorial Stadium in Clemson for their top-10 showdown.
“He won’t be able to come, but I understand why; it’s just the nature of his business,” Radakovich said about his dad. “But my mom is coming down, and she’ll be texting him the whole game, so he will know what is going on.”
Radakovich can’t wait for Saturday to get here to soak in everything that will take place.
During his father’s tenure as the athletics director at Georgia Tech and Clemson, he has taken in several big-time college atmospheres. He points to Georgia Tech’s game at home against Clemson in 2011, which Georgia Tech won 31-17 at night when Clemson was ranked in the top 10.
But Radakovich also goes back to his high school days at Walton and a game against Lassiter as he prepares for Saturday’s contest.
“It was a big game, and there was a huge amount of people in the stadium, and everyone was excited and getting into it,” Radakovich said. “It’s been a long time coming for us to get here. Just to be able to hit someone else in a different jersey, we’re really looking forward to going all out. We go all out in practice against each other, but it’s not the same. It’s going to be a special game Saturday.”
Mercer announced in 2010 that football would return to the campus this season after the program was shut down in 1941. Head coach Bobby Lamb was hired in early 2011, and the Bears have focused on Aug. 31, 2013, since then.
A crowd of more than 10,000 is expected for Saturday’s first game at Mercer University Stadium.
“If the object of them starting football was to energize the campus, they have definitely achieved that,” Radakovich said. “The campus is abuzz, and the stadium is going to be rocking.”
With all that excitement going on around campus, Radakovich said he and his teammates have to keep their focus on the game and not getting overly excited before kickoff. The time frame from 6 p.m. until about 9:15 p.m., after all, is what is most important about the day.
“You just have to trust in your preparation and keep yourself calm during the day,” Radakovich said. “You want to be hyped up, but it has to be at the right times. You can’t get too excited on Friday night or even the middle of the day Saturday. You want to peak at the right time at kickoff and be focused on playing the best you can.”
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