Would it not be good for college football if Clemson and Georgia played every year? Outside of South Carolina, Georgia is Clemson’s most natural rival. The same can be said for the Bulldogs outside of its rivalry game with Georgia Tech.
The two schools sit just 70 miles apart. It seems only natural they should play, right? They play each other in just about every other sport.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said prior to Monday night’s Prowl & Growl event in Greenwood, S.C., he would not mind rekindling the annual grudge match.
“Oh yeah! Absolutely,” he said to the media, including The Clemson Insider at the James Medford Family Event Center. “It would be great for both fan bases.”
It would be as intense now as it ever has been if the two could meet. Both programs are once again at the top of the college football world where they once stood for almost two decades back in the late 1970s and ‘80s.
In the last three years, Clemson has won one national championship and played for another, while Georgia played for the national championship last season. Both programs are also recruiting at a high level and should stay in the mix for years to come.
“I’ve said (we should play Georgia) for a long time,” Swinney said. “We’re going to play somebody like that every year. We’re going to Texas A&M this year, and then they come to us. We’ve played Auburn a bunch of times. So, I think that would be great.
“I’m sure they’re going to play somebody big every year. I don’t know who they play this year, but I’m sure they have somebody out of their conference. To me, it would be great for the fan bases.”
When Clemson and Georgia first started their colorful rivalry, they met every year from 1897-1921. However, for whatever the reason, they played against each another just nine times from 1922-’61.
But, that all changed in 1962 as the two southern programs rekindled their rivalry. Over the next 28 years, it became one of the best rivalries in the south as they met every year with the exception of 1966, 1988 and 1989.
The best years of the rivalry came in the late 1970s and ran through the ’80s. Both programs won national championships (Georgia in 1980 and Clemson in ’81) and were considered two of the best in the country.
From 1977-’87, the matchup became known as the “Eleven Year War” as nine of the 11 games were decided by seven points or less with Clemson winning five, Georgia winning five and one tie.
However, because of scheduling conflicts in Georgia’s schedule the series was dropped as an annual battle. The two played a home-and-home series in 1990 and 1991, 1994 and 1995, 2002 and 2003 and 2013 and 2014.
Swinney would like to see the game played more on an annual basis.
“You don’t really look forward to playing Georgia because there is a good chance you could lose, but anytime you step out of conference and you play Texas A&M, Auburn or whoever else we play, those are big challenges. But, that is how we built our program. I would have no problem with it.”