One South Carolina legislator, though, wants to take steps to ensure that his state’s biggest football rivalry doesn’t suffer the same fate.
With Pittsburgh and Syracuse joining the ACC no later than the 2014 season, the conference announced last week that it will go to a nine-game league schedule. Such a move would leave ACC schools with just three non-conference games, leading some to surmise that rivalry games such as Clemson-South Carolina — not to mention Florida-Florida State and Georgia-Georgia Tech — could become victims of expansion.
According to The State newspaper, a proposal put forth by Republican state representative Nathan Ballentine that would compel Clemson and South Carolina to continue their rivalry game uninterrupted will be considered by a House panel Wednesday.
“I had a constituent bring it up to me, asking whether it was state law that these two teams play. It’s not,” said Ballentine. “With all the conference realignment, we just wanted to make sure this annual game continues. …
“You saw Texas and Texas A&M. That rivalry went by the wayside. … No one wants to see that happen here to our two universities where families enjoy the annual game, and it’s great for our economy.”
While Ballentine did not get the input he sought from Clemson and South Carolina before submitting his proposal for consideration, the schools did give a reaction to the newspaper. And, suffice to say, both would prefer the legislature stay out of the business of football schedules.
“Athletic schedules need to be decided by athletic directors and coaches,” a USC spokesperson said.
“Clemson would prefer to not have to legislate this issue as I cannot conceive of a realistic scenario that would prohibit Clemson and South Carolina from continuing our football series,” Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips said in a statement.
Clemson and South Carolina have played 103 straight years, the second-longest consecutively played game at the Div. 1-A (FBS) level. Ballentine noted that the legislator was forced to step in and require the two teams to meet during the 1952 season, so such intervention is not without precedent.