What kind of got lost this past Thursday with the Xavier Thomas news, the revised ACC schedule and the start of fall camp, was Dabo Swinney’s comments on the SEC’s decision to cancel the Clemson-South Carolina game this season.
The SEC announced on July 30 its member schools were going to play a 10-game conference-only schedule. The conference’s decision came a day after the ACC announced a 10+1 model, leaving the door open for the Palmetto State’s biggest game to be played, as well as other traditional rivalry games between the two conferences – Florida State-Florida, Georgia Tech-Georgia and Louisville-Kentucky.
The SEC’s decision to play conference games only in 2020, due to the growing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, brings a halt to one of the nation’s longest continuous series. The Tigers and Gamecocks have met on the football field for 111 straight years, dating back to the 1909 season. The Clemson-Carolina rivalry is the second longest uninterrupted series in the country and the longest in the South.
Overall, the two teams’ 117 meetings on the gridiron make their rivalry the 11th oldest in the country and the third oldest in the South.
“I’m disappointed. I am sure the same as everybody,” Swinney said Thursday in his first meeting with the media since the news of the Carolina game was canceled. “It is kind of crazy to be honest with you. To think we are going to go all the way to Notre Dame, and they are going to go to Texas or Mississippi or wherever to play, but we can’t meet each other.”
Clemson’s and South Carolina’s campuses are separated by 132 miles. A two-and-a-half-hour drive. South Carolina was originally scheduled to visit Death Valley on Nov. 28.
“We will go and hour and fifteen and you go an hour and fifteen and let’s play a game,” Swinney said. “It is kind of crazy that is where we are. But those are decisions that Will [Muschamp] and I don’t make. I know Will would love to be able to play us as well. But that is just kind of where we are.”
Clemson and Carolina first met on the football field in 1896, a 12-6 South Carolina victory. Only two other times in its history has the series been interrupted.
In 1901, the game was not played due to a dispute with State Fair officials regarding gate receipts. Then from 1903-’08 the game was not played following a near riot between 400 Clemson cadets and South Carolina students in 1902. USC students displayed a bad-tasting transparency towards Clemson in the Elks’ Parade the Friday following the Gamecocks’ win.
The series was resumed in 1909 and they have played every year since.
“I am certainly disappointed, but it is not anything I can control. We just have focus on what we do control.”
Clemson leads the all-time series 71-42-4 and has won six straight games against the Gamecocks.
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