Annual Palmetto Bowl could be in jeoaprdy due to virus (Photo by USAToday Sports)
The good news for those that are hoping to see the Tigers play for another national championship is that the powers that be are still working hard to make sure there is a football season. The bad part, it may take place without the annual rivalry game at the end of the season between Clemson and South Carolina.
Current reports have the ACC looking at a conference only schedule and that would definitely mean the Tigers and Gamecocks would not face off for the first time in over 100 years.
There are four ACC/SEC matchups that happen annually. Georgia/Georgia Tech, FSU/Florida, South Carolina/Clemson and Kentucky/Louisville. With the ACC’s announcement of conference only play, it looks like all four of these rivalry games could be canceled. It is important to keep in mind that nothing is official as of yet though.
Prior to the report, ACC Commissioner John Swofford had previously made it known that Notre Dame would be included in in ACC plan. That means that game would still be played. This has raised some questions by fans like how can they justify traveling such a long distance to Notre Dame, yet they can’t play a Gamecock team that is approximately 2 hours away. The answer is because it has nothing to do with distance.
Some fans have started bringing up the fact that the Clemson and UofSC series is a tradition and that there is a law stating that it has to be played. This has nothing to do with tradition but more with the fact that they are looking at a shortened season and that would mean the conference games would come first. As for the law statement, it is untrue. There is no law on the books that says these two teams must play each other.
Would not playing the Gamecocks or Notre Dame help or hurt? Playing South Carolina would not help the Tigers strength of schedule all that much but would be a home game and help out with revenue.
Playing Notre Dame would help out with the Tigers resume, and is considered one of the biggest matchups of theb 2020 season. They are a preseason top ten team. At the same time, it’s an away game, which doesn’t help from a revenue standpoint. Especially since that’s been a concern for not only the university but also the city of Clemson during the Covid-19 pandemic and it’s aftermath.
Clemson currently owns a six game winning streak versus South Carolina and the games, for the most part, have not been very close. The Tigers have outscored the Gamecocks 256-104 during the current streak and last year’s 38-3 Clemson victory was the 117th game in the series , in which Clemson leads 71-42-4. The last stoppage of play between these two teams came after the 1902 game.
In 1902 South Carolina defeated Clemson, who was highly favored, 12–6. But it was the full scale riot that broke out in the wake of the game that is remembered most. Story has it that they stopped the annual rivalry game, not because of the game itself but, more because of fights amongst the fans that year.
During the week of the rivalry game, Gamecock fans were carrying around a poster with the image of a tiger with a gamecock standing on top of it, and holding the tiger’s tail as if he was steering the tiger with its tail. The Clemson guys didn’t like this at all and so on Wednesday and Thursday there were sporadic fights that broke out.
These fights included brass knuckles and other objects. Acording to newspapers, some of these fights even resulted in blood being spilled and persons having to seek medical assistance. After the game on Thursday, the Clemson guys specifically told the South Carolina students that if you bring this poster, which is insulting to us, to the big parade on Friday, you’re going to be in trouble. And naturally, of course, their students brought the poster to the parade. This is what caused the stoppage of the rivalry until 1909, and the South Carolina and Clemson game has been played every year since.
At the end of the day it comes down to this for Clemson fans. Some football is better than none. Even if that means delaying extending the streak over UofSC to seven for another year.