Over the last two days, I have seen the polls asking Clemson fans if they will be pulling for South Carolina in the Final Four this weekend. Every time I see it, it makes me laugh.
Why? Because I know what the majority of the people are going to vote … No!
There is nothing wrong with that answer. Why should they? Clemson fans pull for Clemson and then anyone who plays against South Carolina. It is the same way with Gamecock fans.
This whole thing about having to pull for your state because they are a state-team is ridiculous. Those who say that were obviously not born in South Carolina or did not attend either university or don’t understand the rivalry at all or sports for that matter.
Do you think Duke fans are rooting for North Carolina this week? Did you think Auburn fans were pulling for Alabama in the College Football Playoff Championship Game? If you did, then you don’t understand what a rivalry is.
Sure there are a few of you out there who might feel like you need to root for the state, but the overwhelming majority of Clemson fans are either rooting against the Gamecocks or they don’t care. It isn’t hurting South Carolina fans’ feelings either. I can write confidently that the overwhelming majority of Gamecocks were not pulling for Clemson the last two years when the Tigers made the College Football Playoff.
For those people that say that is horrible, that makes the state look bad, you need to keep that opinion to yourself. Just like I can’t tell you who to root for, you can’t tell Clemson and South Carolina fans they need to root for the other when the other is playing for a national title or is in the national semifinals.
It is a rivalry for a reason and the rivalry goes deeper than just on the athletic fields. The two schools do not like each other and never have. Clemson began because the University of South Carolina was inadequate when it came to its agriculture programs which nearly caused the university to close its doors. Carolina has held a grudge ever since and the dislike between the two schools has been passed down from generation to generation.
The two schools could not even play each other for six years in the early 1900s because of a mini-war that nearly broke out the day after the Gamecocks’ 12-6 victory over the Tigers in the 1902 Big Thursday Game.
Under John Heisman in those early years, Clemson’s football program had reached great heights—sound familiar—and Heisman’s teams typically ran over everyone they played. The Tigers went undefeated in his first season in 1900 which included a 51-0 victory over the Gamecocks, still the largest margin of victory in the series, while they lost just one game in 1901 and were rolling along again in 1902.
Clemson’s cadets made sure the Gamecocks knew there place in the rivalry at the time. The Tigers had won the previous four meetings and it was not even close as they outscored the Gamecocks 127-6 in those four games combined.
According to Don Barton’s book The Carolina-Clemson Game: 1896-1966 it was customary for the Clemson students in those days to remain in Columbia to enjoy the state fair. In years past, Clemson cadets celebrated their victory over the Gamecocks by parading around the streets of Columbia with their shoes wrapped in garnet and black cloth.
But after Carolina’s stunning victory, the Tigers only loss in 1902, it was the Gamecock students’ time to crow, and they did. The students paraded around a transparency of a Gamecock crowing over a sad-looking Tiger. The display was “borrowed” from a downtown store in Columbia.
As you might expect, Clemson’s cadets were not a fan of this action and they let their displeasure be known. They asked the local law enforcement not to allow this picture to be used in the annual Elk’s parade, which was scheduled on Friday night. However, Carolina’s students paid no attention to the cadets’ request and carried the picture in the parade.
Following the parade the Clemson cadets were dismissed near the Capitol Building, which left them only a short walk from the Carolina campus. They quickly marched to the Sumter Street entrance to the campus, with bayonets and swords in hand, while a small band of Carolina students crouched behind arranged defenses behind the old wall.
A few pistols, clubs and anything else that could be used for self-defense was scattered through the crowd. Eventually, the Columbia police and faculty members began to break things up as joint-committee of six students negotiated a settlement. This led to the burning of the picture.
When reports spread over the state in the following days of what happened, Carolina’s athletic committee decided to discontinue its game with Clemson, despite Clemson wanting to continue the series, and thus began the six-years in which the two rivals did not play.
So now you can see why Carolina does not like Clemson and why Clemson does not like Carolina. So when a Clemson fan says they will not pull for the Gamecocks in the Final Four this week, just understand why and accept it.
That is their rival. In a true rivalry, they truly don’t like each other, and that dislike is what makes the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry so great.
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