Subcommittee says 'No' to Clemson-USC rivalry bill - DatelineCarolina

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Legislators say 'No' to forcing Clemson-USC rivalry

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By: Derek Legette

Edited by: Sara Leary

The idea of forcing South Carolina and Clemson to play each other annually to ensure the 103-year-old football rivalry failed to score with state legislators Wednesday.

A House Higher Education subcommittee unanimously turned aside the effort by Rep. Nathan Ballentine to require the schools to play each other. Ballentine, R-Lexington, said he was worried that with conference expansion and realignment – USC plays in the Southeastern Conference and Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference – the schools might be told in the future they could not play each other.

But, said committee Chairman Lester Branham, "These matters should be handled by the administrations and trustees."

Ballentine wasn't bothered by the outcome. He said he wanted to ensure that the school's rivalry would continue.

"They didn't agree with my particular opinion; that's fine, that's how democracy works," Ballentine said. "The universities feel as if they're not in jeopardy of losing this rivalry."

He said he wasn't trying to "hamstring" the universities, but wanted to give them leverage against the expanding conferences.

"This is important to the state – not just for the families – it's something that the Palmetto State can be proud of," Ballentine said.

Football players from both schools also said the rivalry is crucial.

"The tradition and the rivalry between Carolina and Clemson are what define our football teams," Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen said.

"This game is important because it keeps the revenue in South Carolina," he said. "I don't think the fan base would ever allow us not to play each other."

USC long snapper Davis Moore said the bill should have passed.

 "This has been a rivalry since like 1889, and the fans depend on it," he said. "Fans would go crazy if we didn't play each other. They live to watch this game."

However Moore said he does think it should have been left up to the ACC and SEC commissioners as well as the coaches.

Clemson Athletics Director Terry Don Phillips said he saw no need for the bill.

"There is not any scenario in which I can see the Clemson University-University of South Carolina football game not being play," he said. "The rivalry is a great one, and continuing the series is great for both universities and the state."

USC Athletics Director Eric Hyman said the university has always taken the position that scheduling athletic contests should be left up to the coaches and athletics personnel.  

 "I would find it virtually impossible that Clemson and South Carolina would not play each other every year," Hyman said.

Or, as Moore put it, "You don't screw with tradition."

  • Should state legislation control the USC vs. Clemson football game schedule?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Yes, with all of the conference additions it is important to ensure this game will happen no matter what.
    40%
    2 votes
    No, the lawmakers should stay out of it and leave the scheduling up to the coaches.
    60%
    3 votes
  • Subcommittee says 'No' to football bill
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