Have you ever been to a Clemson University sporting event and seen their mascot, the Tiger? Ever wondered what it’s like to be in that suit? Michael Bays knows! He was the Clemson Tiger back in the early 90’s. He has been with Godshall for 4 years now, after working as the Director of HR at another company for the previous 5 years.
1. How did you discover Clemson University?
Being from Pennsylvania, people have a hard time understanding how I came down to the South. My sister was accepted to Clemson and played in the marching band, so as good families do, we planned 3 trips a year to watch her march at Clemson games. Of course, I was hooked after experiencing their spirit, the great weather, and all the football traditions! It was unreal!
2. How did you become the Clemson Tiger?
I got a job moving equipment for the Tiger Band my freshman year and was able to meet the current mascot at that time. We became friends and he let me put on the suit and work a baseball game. I decided to go to tryouts in the Spring and was offered the job. We had to put together a skit, perform at a baseball game, do push-ups and interview with prior mascots.
3. What was life like as the Clemson Tiger?
I was very honored to be the Goodwill Ambassador for the school, traveling across our state for appearances as well as having the best view for every sporting event. There were times when I would fly in a private plane to IPTAY meetings with our coaches or drive miles upon miles to be at various events. There is only 1 student out of 18,000 enrolled that gets to experience college the way I did. I got to do this for 3 years! I still have the career push-up record for football games!
Smiling faces! It’s amazing how people let their guard down when you approach them in the suit. People hug you, high five you, and parents even throw their newborns in your arms for pictures! There is no better feeling than making someone’s day. You get to do this all of the time! Once you are a Tiger at Clemson, you are always the Tiger. People still introduce me as “The Tiger” to their friends.
5. What are some of your greatest memories as the Tiger?
Too many things to name!
• I once switched outfits with USC’s “Cocky” at an appearance. It was amazing how people loved me just a few moments ago, but hated me the next.
• I used to march on the field during the opposing team band’s half time show.
• I loved showing up to classes as The Tiger unannounced.
• Once I had my roommate dress up as the Tiger for a Halloween Party at a friend’s house and I arrived with him in a ball cap and a hoodie where nobody recognized me. All of my friends were approaching him and talking to him as “Mike” thinking it was me in the suit. At this point, I took off my hat and hoodie and shocked everyone who knew I was the Tiger. My roommate stayed in the suit and in character all night!
6. Any advice or tips you would give to future Clemson Tigers?
Enjoy the ride, make people smile and remember that the former Tigers are watching you closely and critiquing you. I still go back and judge tryouts and actually do some training with the current mascots. Like I said before, “Once a Tiger, always a Tiger.”