Scott has experienced the South’s longest uninterrupted rivalry on both sides of the battle line
Jeff Scott was 14-years old when he was introduced to the seriousness of the Clemson-South Carolina Rivalry.
His dad, Brad Scott, was just finishing up his first year as the Gamecocks’ head coach and was heading into his first Clemson-Carolina game.
That Friday morning, Jeff rolled out of bed just like any other day and went outside to get the paper out of the mail box. When he got down to the bottom of the driveway, he noticed there were three huge tiger paws painted on it.
“Dad had already gone to work. I guess he did not see it in the middle of the night,” Scott said.
If he did not know before, Jeff now knew, “Wow! They are pretty serious about this.”
Seriousness cannot describe the level of disdain Clemson and South Carolina have for each other, which will be on display again Saturday night when the second-ranked Tigers host the Gamecocks at 7 p.m. at Memorial Stadium in Clemson.
Brad coached at South Carolina from 1994-’98. He went 2-3 against Clemson in his five seasons in Columbia.
“I could tell in those years the impact of this rivalry,” Jeff said. “I have seen it from both sides. Both sides are very passionate about their schools and about their football programs like they should be. That’s what makes college football so special.”
After being let go in 1998, Brad took a job at Clemson to be Tommy Bowden’s offensive line coach and Jeff followed him to Tigertown where he lettered at Clemson from 2000-’03.
Two years after his father was fired from South Carolina, Jeff was the holder for Clemson as Aaron Hunt lined up for a 25-yard game-winning field goal in the 2000 game.
“I saw a little bit of the video from that and I did not remember all of that as I watched that video,” Jeff said.
What he did remember about that moment is still pretty special. Jeff remembers Lou Holtz, South Carolina’s head coach at the time, called a timeout to try and ice Hunt.
“I went over and told Aaron Hunt, the kicker, ‘You realize where you are right now? This is exactly the spot where you kicked your last three field goals whenever we worked out in the spring and summer,’ when we would go over to the stadium and let him go through his routine.”
Jeff said Hunt had a routine they always went through and they always finished on the right hash, from about 25 yards out.
“I said, ‘Man that is pretty special. We are getting to kick from where we have kicked many of these,’” Jeff recalled.
As every knows, Hunt drilled the 25-yard field with three seconds remaining to give the Tigers a 16-14 victory.
“That was pretty neat because two years earlier I was on the other side and I was about as close to the action as I got probably in my career,” Jeff said. “That was definitely a special moment. Anytime you win on a last-second field goal that is pretty emotional, but especially in a rivalry game. So that was great.”
Jeff finished his Clemson career as a player in 2002, but he returned as a graduate assistant coach in 2008 and has been at Clemson ever since. He was Dabo Swinney’s recruiting coordinator and wide receivers’ coach when Swinney took over the program and has since been promoted to co-offensive coordinator, which he shares with former teammate and longtime friend Tony Elliott.
Jeff said the Tigers’ 56-7 win over the Gamecocks two years ago is perhaps his best memory from the rivalry as a coach. Clemson racked up 622 yards, the most ever by a Clemson team over the Gamecocks. Quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for 347 yards on 27-of-33 passes while tying his own school-record with six touchdown passes, the most by one quarterback in the history of the rivalry.
The offense also racked up a school-record 40 first downs and was 10-of-15 on third down.
But what Jeff remembers the most about that night was the record-breaking game wide receiver Mike Williams had. A South Carolina native, Williams caught six passes for 100 yards and became the first wide receiver in the history of the rivalry to catch three touchdown passes in a game.
“Just thinking about Mike Williams and him going out in his last year here and being from South Carolina and knowing how important that game was to him,” Jeff said. “For him to go out and have the success that he did, as the receivers’ coach and working with the offense, that was a great time, great memory and great night for him and for us.”
By the way, the Scotts finally found out who painted the tiger paws on their driveway back in 1994. Jeff said one of the culprits came up to him and his dad last year and admitted to doing it. Of course, they all laughed about it. However, Jeff did say, “the driveway was fine. We were able to wash that off. However, the orange they painted on the trees, that was a different story.”