The Clemson-Carolina rivalry means a little more to Tony Elliott than most of the coaches and players on the Clemson football team. Bragging rights go far beyond the recruiting trail for the Tigers’ co-offensive coordinator.
Elliott’s sister and aunt are both South Carolina graduates, and Elliott said they both make it pretty obvious they are pulling against him when Clemson plays their Gamecocks. That will be the case this Saturday when the second-ranked Tigers visit Columbia to take on rival South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium.
“I haven’t been able to convert her yet,” Elliott said jokingly about his sister.
If Elliott has not converted his sister by now, then he is never going to do it. As a player, he went 3-1 against the Gamecocks, including the famous 63-17 game in 2003 in Columbia. As a coach at Clemson, the Tigers are 3-3 since Elliott joined Swinney’s staff in 2011.
Of course last year, the Tigers (10-1) beat the Gamecocks 56-7, the second largest margin of victory in the history of the rivalry.
“I think she’s going to pull against me this week and my birthday is on Sunday so we probably won’t have much conversation until the end of this one,” Elliott said. “At the end of the day she’s family but she’s got a lot of pride in the school that she attended and I have a tremendous amount of pride and for the rest of the year, if I have the upper hand, I don’t say much, but if she gets the upper hand, little sister is going to take her jabs.”
Elliott said he was so focused on getting ready for the Gamecocks on Sunday, he did not realize until last night that it was his sister’s birthday. He sent her a text when he realized it, but he did not hear back from here until this morning.
At first, he said, he thought it was because of the rivalry.
“I have to confess my wife talked to her and she face-timed with the boys,” he said. “I didn’t realize it (was her birthday) until it was too late. It was probably 10:30 last night and so I tried to call and I was like ‘Oh Lord, she’s going to be so upset because she thinks this is about the rivalry,’ but really I was just focused on working.
“But she did text me back this morning and said it was okay.”
Elliott and the Tigers are just hoping that it is not okay come Sunday morning when it will be his birthday.