Granted baseball season just started and basketball season is near its end. However, there is never a bad time to talk about football, especially when it comes to the Clemson-South Carolina series.
Normally, I would not write about such a thing this time of the year, but after hearing some discussions about the Clemson-Carolina football series on the radio the last few days, it got me to thinking about where the two programs are at right now and where have they been in comparison in the past.
Of course all of the talk on social media and on the radio has come from the comments South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley made earlier this week. If you missed it, here is what he said to the media:
“I want to win a national championship. However long that takes, I’m going to do it.”
Bentley’s comments of course stoked the fire of Clemson fans and got Gamecock fans crowing. But let’s be honest here. Was there anything wrong with what Bentley said? I mean, he is a competitor. What do you want him to say?
However, is Carolina in position to win a national championship next year or at any point in Bentley’s remaining three years in Columbia? No, they are not. I have 56-7 reasons as to why.
I think any realistic Gamecock supporter will agree with that statement.
Can they win a national championship? Sure, anything can happen? Will they? No, they will not.
One of the radio hosts in the Upstate tried to play Devil’s advocate and said Clemson winning the national championship will cause South Carolina to take a good long and hard look at itself and will do anything it can to get to where Clemson is at now.
Maybe they will. But will they?
He used the Alabama-Auburn rivalry as an example, saying every time Alabama wins a national championship, Auburn is right on their heels the next year or a few years later competing for one as well. That’s true, but the only difference is Auburn was already in position to do that in most of those cases, as those Tigers recruit at a high level on a consistent basis.
He also used the example that Carolina had its best football season in 1984, when it came within a hair of reaching No. 1 status after a 9-0 start to the season, just three years after Clemson won its first national championship. That’s true, but the Gamecocks finished 10-2 that year, it’s only 10-win season until Steve Spurrier’s 2011, ’12 and ’13 teams won 11 games each nearly 30 years later.
The Gamecocks have had a few good teams here and there over the years, but never to the level of success Clemson is experiencing now or in the late 1970s-‘80s or in late 1940s-‘50s.
In 125 football seasons, South Carolina is 587-561-44 all-time. Its 587 all-time wins and its .514 win-percentage both rank in the lower half of the all-time rankings in college football.
In its 121 seasons of playing football, Clemson has compiled a 717-457-45 mark. The Tigers 717 wins rank in the top 20 all-time, while its .607 win-percentage ranks in the top 25 all-time.
From there, the gap gets even wider when comparing the two programs.
When it comes to conference championships, you always here South Carolina fans bring up the fact the Gamecocks play in the SEC and that is why they have not won as many as Clemson through the years. That’s not accurate.
Up until 1972, when South Carolina left the ACC and became an independent school, the Gamecocks and Tigers competed in the same conference for decades in the Southern Independent Athletic Association, the SoCon and the ACC.
In those years, Carolina won one conference championship, the 1969 ACC Championship. That is still the only one the Gamecocks have ever won.
As for Clemson, while playing in the same conferences with South Carolina from 1900-1972, it won 12 conference championships. These examples go on and on and on through history, which I listed below.
- Clemson: 717-457-45 (.607)
- Carolina: 587-561-44 (.514)
- Clemson leads 68-42-4
- Clemson: 2
- Carolina: 0
- Clemson: 22
- Carolina: 1
- Clemson 5
- Carolina 1
- Clemson 41
- Carolina 20
- Clemson 22
- Carolina 8
Major Bowl Game appearances
- Clemson 11 (7-4)
- Carolina 0
College Football Playoffs
- Clemson 2
- Carolina 0
BCS Bowl Games
- Clemson 2
- Carolina 0
Final Associated Press rankings
- Clemson 30
- Carolina 9
Final AP Top 10 rankings
- Clemson 9
- Carolina 3
- Clemson 13
- Carolina 4
My point in all of this is South Carolina has had some good teams and good stretches where it was better than Clemson. However, when it comes to the overall success of the program and where they stand in the history of college football, plus the fact the Gamecocks do play in the same conference as Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Florida and Georgia, it is just hard to see South Carolina win a national championship in football, and not just in the next three years, but ever.
All the while, Clemson is the reigning national champions. It is easy to see, in this argument, Clemson fans can just call scoreboard to make their point. Or, just say 56-7.
—Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
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