South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has a message for the Southeastern Conference.
“If you are going to play football, play football in a way that makes sense,” he said Monday via ABC 25 in Columbia. “To me, it does not make sense to stop the Clemson-South Carolina game if you are going to play other games.”
Graham said he is disappointed with the SEC’s decision to cancel the Clemson-South Carolina game, as well as other traditional rivalry games between Georgia Tech and Georgia, Florida State and Florida and Louisville and Kentucky.
Last Thursday, the SEC announced its 14-member institutions were going to play 10-game conference-only games in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their news came a day after the ACC announced its conference was going to play 10-conference games, plus one non-conference game that had to be played within the school’s state borders.
The ACC’s decision opened the door for the Clemson-Carolina game to continue, but the SEC’s slammed the door shut, canceling the longest uninterrupted series in the South and the second longest in the country.
The Tigers and Gamecocks have met for 111 consecutive years, dating back to 1909.
“The ACC apparently was willing to play one non-conference game. The SEC, for some reasons, told everybody in the conference you have to stay within the conference. That makes no sense to me,” Graham said. “You got (Georgia)-Georgia Tech. You got (Clemson)-South Carolina. You got some rivalry games out there that have been going on for a very, very long time.”
Graham feels the SEC has no right to be telling Clemson and South Carolina they can’t play a game in their home state. The cities of Clemson and Columbia are separated by just 132 miles, a two-hour bus ride for either school.
“I think, we have the ability, as a state, to manage a game between Clemson and South Carolina safely,” the senator said. “The idea of stopping this rivalry for the pandemic bothers me. I am disappointed and I think it is unacceptable.
“We can’t let this pandemic stop this rivalry and I am going to call and object. I can’t make them do anything they don’t want to do, but I think I am speaking for a lot of people that want to see football between Clemson and South Carolina.”
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