For four decades, Furman University in Greenville has been one of the nation's elite NCAA Football Championship Series (FCS) teams, having claimed 13 Southern Conference titles and a national championship in 1988. That success is balanced with a strong academic tradition and the best elements of "small college" football.
Students and alumni stream into the 16,000-seat Paladin Stadium to cheer on their purple-clad team and enjoy the breathtaking views of Paris Mountain in the distance. If you're looking for a low-key, but still vibrant football culture, this is your place.
How to enjoy a Paladins weekend, inside or outside the stadium:
Where to eat before the game - For nearby comfort food, check out Stax's Original restaurant on Poinsett Highway, located a couple of miles from campus. Two miles north of the school, you'll also find Shortfields in the town of Travelers Rest.
Where to celebrate after the game - If your idea of fun is craft beer or craft spirits, check out the Swamp Rabbit Brewery or Copper Mountain Distillery, both in Travelers Rest. A popular institution near Greenville is the Peddler Steak House on Poinsett Highway.
Where to buy Furman gear - The Paladins don't freely license team merchandise, so the best (maybe only) place to get souvenirs is the on-campus Furman University Bookstore.
Where to tailgate with Paladins fans - Paladin Plaza, located in front of the stadium, is mostly for Paladin Club members, but there are a number of parking lots near the school's chapel, and if you don't mind walking, there's free parking at McAlister Auditorium.
Where to purchase your tailgate fare - Furman's "official" tailgate supplier is Ingles Market. There's also a well-stocked Publix near campus.
Best Furman game day rituals - The No. 1 tradition is the arrival of Sir Paladin, dressed as a medieval knight riding a white stallion onto the field before kickoff. During games, cheerleaders often direct the crowd in Furman's unofficial cheer: "FU one time, FU two times, FU three times, FU all the time." For years, the chant was led by now-retired school president John Johns.
What they're singing or dancing to - Before taking the name Paladins, Furman's football team was known as the Purple Hurricane. In recent years, the band plays the Scorpions' rock song, "Rock You Like A Hurricane," as the team takes the field.