The SEC will soon require all members of the conference to schedule at least one school from another power conference the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12 – each season. The ACC has a similar requirement and the Big Ten is moving in that direction as well. For some schools in the SEC and ACC, that requirement is filled with annual rivalries against a school form the other conference (Florida vs. Florida State, for example). South Carolina also gets that requirement filled with a rivalry game against Clemson, but Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier was still questioned about another opponent on the schedule this fall, East Carolina.
“Playing East Carolina is maybe a little bit better than playing one of those bottom-tier Big Ten teams,” Spurrier said (via 247 Sports). Leave it to Spurrier to offer a compliment that ultimately comes off as a dig at another school or conference.
In his defense, Spurrier’s Gamecocks will be taking on an East Carolina team that would probably be considered a favorite against Purdue or Illinois. In fact, East Carolina may have the best path to a big bowl game in the new College Football Playoff format than North Carolina, Duke, NC State or Wake Forest may have. The highest ranked conference champion from the “Group of Five” conferences (American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt) will be given a guaranteed spot in the big revenue bowl line-up determined by the College Football Playoff selection committee.
Was Spurrier out of line? As some have already noted, Ohio State and Michigan could say something similar about playing Kentucky or Vanderbilt most years. Take your pick of Colorado or Utah in the Pac-12, or Kansas in the Big 12 or Wake Forest or
Duke in the ACC.
South Carolina hosts East Carolina on September 6, between home games with Texas A&M and Georgia. Each of the last three seasons for South Carolina has ended with a bowl victory over a team from the Big Ten.
For what it is worth, East Carolina is 0-4 all-time against the Big Ten, with all four losses coming against Illinois by an average margin of defeat of 13.5 points.