Friday Jam: Drivin N Cryin – “Straight to Hell” (Live)

I’m a huge Drivin N Cryin fan.  Their first four albums got HEAVY rotation for many years, and I still find myself listening to them today.  I watched “Scarred but Smarter”, the documentary of Drivin N Cryin last week.  Look for a review very shortly.

To celebrate…feel free to sing along:

Post-Season College Football Thoughts

So I’ve had some time to reflect on the 2015 National Championship game.  For the first time in as long as I care to remember, there wasn’t a team from the South playing (and usually winning) the National Championship (2004 – USC vs. Oklahoma), so my attitude leading up to the game was relatively casual.  I probably watched a combined hour of Oregon and Ohio State football during the regular season, but I did watch the playoff games on January 1st.  It’s fair to say that I don’t have any familiarity or connection to either team.

It seemed that most of us here in the South felt the same way.  Through many of my conversations with friends as well as callers into Sports Talk radio, most of us down here didn’t really care.  It seemed that the default position of Southerners was to pull for Oregon – because Urban Meyer coached at Florida.  Living deep in Bulldog country will do that to people.  I don’t have a problem with that.  I was pulling for Oregon, but really just hoping for a good game.  Luckily, that’s what we got.

The playoff system faced such a backlash when it was announced, and for good reason.  Originally the committee was going to take conference title into account, which would negate any benefit to a playoff.  They got rid of that (thank God), and picked the four top teams, regardless of conference.  This was an EXCELLENT decision, and it made college football much more entertaining in 2014.  Instead of thinking about the top two teams, now there was a chance for four teams, and those teams would have to play and win two more games against the other best teams in the country.

This move made us college football fans – even SEC fans – pay attention to other games outside of our conference and region.  I’ve never paid that much attention to TCU, Baylor, Oregon, or Ohio State, but I did this year.  Maybe not by watching their games from kickoff to the buzzer, but I did keep my eyes on all of the top teams.

Why was the playoff so great?  Because there is a true champion.  There is no debate.  TCU and Baylor did everything possible to earn their way in, and remember that Ohio State’s inclusion in the final four was seriously questioned when it was announced.  Doesn’t seem like that was a bad decision now…It’s what makes college football so much better than the NFL, which has sucked for about the last ten years.  All the players on those four teams played their hearts out, because their time is limited as a Buckeye, a Duck, a ‘Nole, or part of the ‘Bama legacy, not because their time is limited by a contract.

After some time to reflect, I have some suggestions.  First, I would like to see them expand to an eight team playoff.  Talk about exciting?  Imagine the implication of every game on every team’s schedule – there would essentially be NO off-week.  Play the four opening round games on New Year’s Day, the next two games the next weekend, and then the National Championship on the next Monday.  It would give college football fans a true playoff, and the ratings would be insane.

A couple other things that need changing:

  • Touchbacks to the 20, not the 25.
  • Clearly defined rules on targeting.  I didn’t like seeing players get kicked out of a game for an inadvertent hit.
  • Change the minimum requirement for Bowl Eligibility to seven wins, not six.  This may cut down the number of bowls; so be it.  A 6-6 team is not a ‘winning’ team.  Bowls are supposed to be a reward.
  • Lower ticket prices to the bowl games.  Judging by the attendance of the vast majority of the bowl games, they had a REALLY hard time filling seats.  A stadium at 25% capacity selling $100 tickets isn’t worth as much as a stadium at 70% capacity via $40 tickets.  Make it about the fans, especially the ones that travel, or want to travel.

Congratulations to Ohio State.  They earned it with a 3rd string QB, a future all-pro NFL running back, and a defense that had more NFL starters than the Falcons.  It’s good that Ohio State won.  Maybe some humble pie for the SEC?  Maybe dispersion in the college football landscape?  Whatever.  I’ll take it…  I’m still a die-hard SEC fan, and am more excited about next year because of the possibilities…

Now I, along with the rest of us college football fans, will retire into hibernation.  Yes, signing day is coming, and spring practices will give us a little taste, but it’s going to be a LONG nine months until toe meets leather on campus again.

Images: Google Image Search

Business Casual

One of my favorite terms is Business Casual.  Never has there been a merge of more contradictory terms.  I consider myself a seasoned professional, and there are those with much more experience, as well as those just starting out that would agree that business is anything but casual.  Business is business.

I’ve always thought the term business casual gave the professional dress code a lowest common denominator mentality.  A ‘what can I get away with’ view of getting ready for work.  Quite frankly, I don’t accept that.  I believe that your professional brand is something that should carefully thought through and curated.  Yes, there are those that could care less what you look like at the office.  But always remember this: those that need to notice, will.

Below is the approach for three levels of professionals.  From the exec, to middle management, to the more common ‘work from home’ styles…here is a practical view for you:

From top left:

Brooks Brothers Fitzgerald Cashmere Sport Coat:  Sport coats are like a suit of armor.  They look good, but the key is fit.  An ill-fitting sport coat is like whitewalls on a Ferrari.
Ledbury Alden Red Windowpane Dress Shirt:  Good shirts in solids and diet checks.  Always pressed…you can usually get away with wearing it two or three times; the second and third time under a sweater.
Martin Dingman Julian Alligator Belt:  A good belt brings the whole outfit home.  It’s the flare of the outfit.
Mont Blanc Classique Platinum Rollerball Pen:  A status symbol that might be a little passe, but with these pens, you get what you pay for…especially if your signature is required.
Sid Mashburn Herringbone Topcoat:  Outwear at this level is the top of the heap.  No raincoats or fleece, instead opting for the underrated topcoat.
Incotex Slim Fit Dress Trousers:  At this level, wool trousers are the way to go.  Flannel for three seasons and lightweight wool in warmer months.  Meticulously tailored and always pressed.
Bally Derby Black Oxfords:  Black is the power play.  Brown can be mixed in, but black shoes are the go-to for an exec.
Brietling Navitimer Watch:  If it’s good enough for a pilot, it’s good enough for you.
iPhone 6 Plus:  Since an exec rarely spends time checking email at their desk, the iPhone 6 Plus’s size is perfect for the meeting gauntlet of the day.



From top left:

Orvis Merino Wool Zip Neck Sweater:  A sport coat is not the norm, but a sweater gives the outfit a more buttoned up, pulled together look.
Lumina Black/White graham Check Buttondown:  Checks and checks and checks.  Try to deviate from blue, as that is what EVERYONE does.  Greens, Reds, and Blacks are a great, professional (and non-pastel) alternative.
Moleskine  Classic Lined Notebook:  Smart buisness people take notes.  Be prepared.
Anderson’s Burnished Leather Woven Trim Belt:  A good leather belt is paramount to the outfit.  Just keep it looking good – no scratches, stains, or tears allowed.  If it looks bad, replace it.  Otherwise it’ll ruin an outfit.
Rolex (2007) Green Submariner Watch:  Get something good with your first big bonus.  You earned it, so treat yourself.  A good watch is something that will stick with you for a loooong time.
MacBook Air:  The ultimate computer for the workplace.  It’s light, powerful, and easy to use.
Render K Copper Bullet Pen:  Something cool, and a clear step up from the Bic Stic.
Jack Donnelly Dalton Slim Fit Pants:  Good khakis are appropriate for the workplace.  They should be tailored; and fit as if they were made for you.  There are some good off-the-rack choices, but the intent is to look professional.
Barbour X Dept (B). Beacon Sports Coat:  A good, logo-less coat.  Be smart.
Wolverine Montague 1000 Mile Chelsea Boots:  Please avoid any corrective leather shoes or anything with a square toe.  This time of year, a good pair of Chelsea boots are an excellent option.


MacBook Pro:  Strong, powerful, and very good at multi-tasking.
Brooks Brothers Cotton/Cashmere Supima Robe:  Seriously.  I worry if you need help with what to wear while working from home.


Personally, I don’t believe anyone in an office environment should dress below the ‘Middle Management’ example I have above.  There is a certain level of respect deserved at an office that a vendor-logo’ed polo, baggy khakis, and bad leather shoes just don’t meet.  Another piece of advice: the old adage ‘dress for the job you want’ is actually pretty accurate.  Don’t let the visual part of your personal brand be a prohibitive factor in your career advancement.

2015 College Football National Champtionship Giveaway with State Traditions

It’s finally here…the 2015 College Football National Championship Game.  The Oregon Ducks against the Ohio State Buckeyes…the last two standing.  They’ll kick off at 8:30PM ET at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (aka ‘The House the Jerry Built’).  For those of us (me included) who were very skeptical of the playoff system, it has won me over.  I love it.  It made college football better to watch this year, as it forced us to keep up with teams that we normally wouldn’t watch (TCU, Baylor, etc.).  In fact, I think four is too few.  Make it eight!

To celebrate, we’ve teamed up with the good ‘ole boys from State Traditions to do a fun giveaway for Red Clay Soul readers.

Here’s what we’re going to do:  To enter, leave a comment below with your pick for the final score.  The closest guess wins a State Traditions pullover sweater and a hat of your choice.

Good luck!

Thanks to State Traditions for supplying the goods for the giveaway

Head’s Up: Serious Sale at Ralph Lauren (eh hem: Shell Cordovan)

Head’s up: there is a pretty serious sale going on over at Ralph Lauren.  Up to 70% off…TONS of great stuff, but these stuck out:

These dark brown shell cordovan Marlow loafers are outstanding.  I do love the full strap…and at 40% off, they are ripe for the picking…

And for you guys that like the tassels…their shell cordovan Marlow Tassel loafers are on sale as well.

Shell cordovan is serious business, folks.  My dad bought a pair of shell cordovan tassels and wore them for 31 years.  I’d call that a good value proposition.

The Hall of Fame Trifecta

Tell me it got any better…and now they are all in the Hall of Fame.  As if there was any question…

Allow Me To Introduce: Peach State Pride


I had the pleasure of meeting Derek and Kari Beth Chitwood a couple days before Christmas.  Peach State Pride had been on my radar for some time, so I was excited to see their operation(s) up close and personal.

The day we met there seemed to be a sense of relief in the offices…almost like a giant exhale.  See, the Christmas order deadline had been the day before, so the madness was effectively over.  Peach State Pride is an outfit started by Derek Chitwood in 2009.  Since then, they have exploded.  Today, their merchandise is sold in almost 90 stores across the state, and have opened two stores of their own (more on that later).

The focus of the PSP brand is our great state of Georgia.  Derek designed the peach logo, and is working to make it synonymous to Georgia, the way the palm and the crescent are synonymous with South Carolina.  So far, so good.  You wouldn’t believe how many shirts, hats, belts, and other Peach State Pride merchandise they move.  It’s staggering.

Talking with Derek and Kari Beth is a breath of fresh air.  They really seem to get it – produce a quality product, focus on the brand, and stay true to the roots.  There is a level of politeness that is so refreshing, but not in the sense that they are riding the wave…they have a clear business plan and are completely aligned on where they want to take the Peach State Pride brand.

Derek was nice enough to sit down and give me a little history:

When did Peach State Pride start?  I created the logo in February of 2009; the website launched in October 2010, and we got in our first retail store around Christmas of 2010. We’re currently sold in 88 stores across the state and have two stores of our own in Watkinsville, GA and Lavonia, GA.

What is the inspiration behind Peach State Pride?  Passion. I’ve always been particularly passionate about where I’m from. Not just as a Georgian, but all the way down to the community that I’m from, the schools I attended, the teams I was a part of, etc. Perhaps more than anything, I’m proud of the time that I spent with my Grandpa in his small, 3 acre peach orchard in Northeast Georgia. That’s where I spent every summer growing up and it’s hard not to feel a strong sense of ‘Georgian’ when picking peaches was such a large part of my life. Being from the Peach State has always meant a lot to me because of that background and I guess in many ways that laid the groundwork for Peach State Pride. My love of Georgia history and culture keeps me further engaged with the state, deepening my pride in it. But there are so many people that feel the same way about Georgia, and that’s where our brand hits home: in the hearts of people who care about where they’re from.

What kind of guy is a Peach State Pride customer?  The typical Peach State Pride customer is between the ages of 17 and 35, usually a good ol’ boy who enjoys the outdoors, but also enjoys quality goods. We’re not the typical southern brand, we just aren’t, we weren’t birthed in the same way that many of those brands were birthed. We care about the State of Georgia; it’s culture, it’s land, it’s people. We give 15% of our profits back to Georgia and I think our customer appreciates that.

What is it like working at Peach State Pride?  Light-hearted. We all get along really well and we don’t take things too seriously. Of course we work hard and when necessary put in the extra hours, but it’s really a good experience for everyone. We’ve got a good group of guys who work at our warehouse, a few great interns from UGA, and a great staff of workers at our stores. My old kindergarten teacher drives over an hour to work with us a few days a week. It really is a fun atmosphere.

What do you like to do outside of work?  I spend time with my beautiful wife, Kari Beth Chitwood. We watch television together and go for walks.  Sportscenter, College Gameday, and PTI are my favorite shows, much to her chagrin. But I love history, nature, agriculture, and architecture so there is always something biding my attention. We like to travel and get outside. We go to Clark Hill Lake a good bit when the weather is nice, and Amelia Island…it should be part of Georgia by the way. Just kidding, but maybe we should work something out.

What is your ‘Everyday Carry’?  A wallet, my cell phone, keys…I’m a pretty simple guy.

What is your favorite ‘thing’ from Peach State Pride?  I’m always trying out future products so most of the time it’s something we haven’t released yet. But right now, I’m really enjoying my Navy Trout Embroidered Belt.

And some images of their operation in Watkinsville:

Thanks to Derek and Kari Beth for being such great hosts…