Friday, November 27, 2009

ACC vs SEC Rivalries Combine History, Passion, and Hatred

When you follow the ACC and the SEC, this week is the biggest of the year with three rivalry matchups on the schedule. These games split friends, work places, and even marriages due to the close proximity of the schools.

In these three games you even cross former conference alliances that have enhanced the rivalry over the years.

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets played in the SEC for many years making their annual game with Georgia a conference affair. Now with the Jackets in the ACC, the game is not only for state pride, but conference pride.

Same goes for South Carolina who was an original member of the ACC. The Gamecocks joined the SEC in 1992.

I asked bloggers from around the South to get their take on the ACC vs SEC rivalries. What this game means to the fan base, what a win would mean, what a loss would mean, and how the history has made the rivalry what is today.

These are some of the best bloggers in the ACC and SEC so be sure to check out their sites.
Garnet and Black Attack - South Carolina
Leftover Hot Dog - South Carolina
All Sports Discussion - Clemson
Shakin The Southland - Clemson
From The Rumble Seat - Georgia Tech
Alligator Army - Florida

Clemson-South Carolina

From Garnet and Black Attack

This is the biggest game of the season for us. As in most big in-state rivalries, Carolina and Clemson people work together, go to school together, and sometimes are even part of the same family.

This dynamic is probably stronger in
South Carolina than other states, as South Carolina is a small state in which the fan bases aren't really all that divided by region. All of this means that along with victories comes the right to gloat to your friends and colleagues for a year, and losing means a year of suffering and humiliation.

One of the great stories of this rivalry occurred back in 1902. That year, an underdog Carolina team handed John Heisman's powerhouse Tigers their only loss on the year.

After the game, a group of triumphant Carolina students marched through the streets with a large banner that depicted a gamecock whipping a beaten tiger.
The students were assaulted by a group of Clemson students, and in fact there ended up being a showdown between the two student bodies on the Carolina campus that police had to intervene to stop. This incident apparently gave birth to the "Gamecocks" nickname.

As a Carolina fan, I should stress that because we've tended to struggle against Clemson--the Tigers own a 65-37-4 record against us and have absolutely dominated in the past 15 years or so--any win in this series is huge for us.

Victories are truly joyous occasions, and because Tigers fans think they're entitled to wins over us, it's fun to watch the utter meltdowns that ensure any time they lose to us. See 2006.

I'd argue that this one is as big as any in recent memory. This Carolina team needs a victory in this game to call this season a success; indeed, it needs it to erase the sting of the poor finishes of the past three two seasons. Steve Spurrier also needs a win here to win back the support of some of the more skeptical elements in the fan base.

Finally, all year our players have been talking about how this is a "New Carolina" that won't suffer the fate of teams past.
If they want to prove that's true, they're going to have to beat Clemson.

A win would equal positives on all of these fronts.
A loss would mean that this season would be deemed a complete failure, even if we go onto to win a lower-tier bowl game.

I don't think Spurrier would be fired or anyone would be ready to sell their season tickets if we lose, but the fan base would certainly be very unhappy with the way things are going.

The fact that this game is at home only adds to the gravity of the game; losing such a big game on our own turf would make matters all the worse. It's worth saying, though, that we've lost plenty of games to Clemson and suffered through many mediocre seasons, so a loss wouldn't be too surprising. Sad but true.

From Leftover Hot Dog

Winning in the Clemson and USC rivalry is everything to these two schools that lie 129 miles apart. Folks in South Carolina will tell you one thing with certainty—beating the rival is a must.

Most in South Carolina like one or other, rarely do you see a person that likes both so it creates a love/hate arrangement in the state. In the eyes of many, the biggest game of the year is about to take place in South Carolina.

The type of game that divides families or can ruin friendships; this is not just any old rivalry game but it is the “Battle of the Palmetto State.”

Clemson leads the football series 65-37-4, but approximately forty games have been decided by a touchdown or less. The USC/Clemson rivalry game is the longest uninterrupted series in the South, and the third longest uninterrupted series overall, having been played every year since 1909.

University of South Carolina football team is in desperate need of a win to reverse another late season slide, and at the same time create a new chapter in the “Palmetto State Rivalry” that has been dominated by Clemson of late, winning seven of the last nine games.

Saturday’s game is huge for South Carolina – “must win!” If the Gamecocks were to win they would finish the season 7-5 and avoid another late season total collapse. USC would end a two-game losing streak to Clemson and give its fans a year’s worth of bragging rights.

Spurrier would take a fairly positive attitude into the final stages of recruiting and onto the speaking circuit with Gamecock Club meetings. Spurrier would improve his record to 2-3 against Clemson and 1-1 against Dabo [Swinney].

A loss for South Carolina Saturday would mean another 6-6 season. It would mean another late season slide by losing four in a row and five of their six games.
It would mean Clemson would have beaten the Gamecocks 11 of the past 13 seasons.

Recruiting would be more difficult for the Class of 2011. The fan base would be depressed and I wonder what Spurrier could tell the faithful to inspire them to get excited about the 2010 season.
South Carolina cannot afford another poor effort against the Tigers.

From Shakin The Southland

Well, to tell you the truth from my perspective, there are two camps of
Clemson fans this year: the ones who would rather we rest guys for Georgia Tech and don't care about Sakerlina whatsoever; and the ones that despise the Gamecocks with a passion and want to wipe them from the Earth. I'm one of the latter.

I hate them and pull against them in every game they play.
I think most of us would rather take an ACC title over beating South Carolina though, if we had to choose only one. I would.

The problem is just that in-state rivalries are hard for the loser, because your family is divided in many cases, and sometimes your closest friends are opposing fans.

One of my best friends for 20 years is a Cockfan. I don't want to hear about it from him for the next year. So for the fans, its huge...for the team, maybe a little less so.

A win for us would just mean bragging rights, but it really doesn't shut the opposing fans up, they still talk trash like it never happened when we beat them every year.
Carolina fans immediately go into "wait til next year" mode halfway through any given season, and concede defeat. They're used to it after 100 years of sucking.

A loss might hurt in recruiting, but each team gets its share of prospects every year. In this state you pick Clemson or Carolina at birth and that's just how it stays. The ones we fight for are the ones who grew up not caring about either team.

A loss coupled with an ACCCG loss would be a real downer for the fan base, because we'd never hear Carolina fans shut up. A loss coupled with an ACC title would probably keep us smiling and give us something to throw in their faces, since SC will never ever win an SEC title.

I would like to say that there are a large group of Clemson fans, and I'm one, want to pick up Georgia again on the schedule. Throughout the '80s this was a huge rivalry with Danny Ford vs. Vince Dooley.

I wouldn't take SC off the schedule (and we can't, its state law) but I would love to play Georgia more often. We're closer, a bit more similar fan base, similar areas, and we fight for the same recruits every year. I know many UGA fans would feel the same.

All Sports Discussion

Clemson dominants this rivalry. The lead the rivalry 65-37-4 and have won 10 of the last 12 games.
All year long Clemson fans are subjected to the endless ramblings of South Carolina fans about playing in the SEC. I hear this myself from Carolina fans as a constant excuse for their usual 4, 5 or 6 losses preceding this game.

When Clemson wins this game it's a source of pride and state bragging rights to say we beat you on the field and we don't care what conference you play in.
As I said this is state bragging right game, but for Clemson the game is much more this season. Clemson is putting together it's best season in nearly 20 years.

A win would give the Tigers momentum heading in the ACCCG with Georgia Tech, and a strong possibility for a 10+ win season.
It would further endear Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney to Tiger fans. Atlantic Division title and 2 straight wins over South Carolina, yea life would be good for Dabo. In addition a big game by C.J. Spiller enhances his Heisman status.

I think Clemson and Georgia Tech are in very similar situations. Both are considered the ACC's best teams playing middle of the road SEC teams.

A loss by either would be in a word, embarrassing, for each team and the ACC. Both teams would suffer the indignity of losing to mediocre SEC squads.
Fans of either South Carolina and Georgia would never let Clemson and Georgia Tech fans hear the end of it. "Our average teams are still better than your ACC Champions", they'll say.

In the state of South Carolina this is the biggest game of the year. Other states have more colleges or professional teams, but here its 365 days of non-stop Clemson\Carolina. It's a very intense rivalry that's underrated nationally.

There's no question this is each team's biggest rival.

Georgia-Georgia Tech
From The Rumble Seat

Well, this rivalry is incredibly important for Georgia Tech. We've got beating Georgia in our fight songs sung at every game, function, and alumni wedding for Dodd's sake.

Georgia Tech fans hate UGA. There's no question. We see dog license plates everywhere, we work with dog fans, we may even sleep with dog alumni.

This is a quote from the Atlanta Journal after our first meeting with Georgia's football team in 1893:
"At one time early in the last half of the game, a stone was hurled at one of the Tech players, striking him a cruel blow in the head... At another time, one of the Athenians drew a knife and threatened one of the Techs' better players... The Techs were also poked and gouged with canes on plays toward the boundary lines... Some of the crowd had the privilege of the gridiron equally with the players."

The rock the UGA fans threw hit our first superstar,
Leonard Wood. Wood stitched up his own forehead and kept playing despite the injury. Tech won 28-6 with the help of Wood and quarterback John Kimball (a UGA transfer). They may have hurled the first stone but Tech has the first and most recent wins in the series, which is a huge talking point for Tech fans.

A win gives us gratification equivalent to say winning the lottery every day for a year until the next Thanksgiving game.

There's a long
history of why we hate them but it mostly stems from having to deal with their arrogance and bravado on a daily basis. There is not a happier fan base in America when the Bulldogs struggle.

A win is huge for a multitude of reasons. Since Mark Richt's arrival, he has dominated GT on the instate recruiting trail. He's also rebuilt the ravenous horde that is the UGA bandwagon.
A win shows that there isn't this gaping disparity between our two programs. A win constitutes a winning streak over the dogs - something Tech fans haven't known since 1998-2000.

In a slightly sick way, Tech fans want to win because we know it's driving Mark Richt out of Georgie. He's their best coach since Dooley but he happened to land a job during Tech's best coach since Bobby Ross' tenure and Florida's best coach ever. Hence, the comparisons in annual rivalry games are killing his reputation amongst the Bulldog faithful.

A Tech win distances the doggie fan base even more from Richt and may ultimately put their program back in the realm of Jim Donnan-esque futility if they force him out.

A loss would be the ultimate punch in the face to the ACC. It would say, "Tech won the ACC handily but couldn't beat a third tier SEC squad." A loss cannot happen. Tech has to pull it out. Tech's reputation is on the line as well as the ACC's.

A loss also confirms that Tech still hasn't reached the next level as a contender. Big out of conference, national television games are what winning programs feed off of.
If we can't win the state, there's no reason to believe Tech deserves any more than a division title this season.

Florida-Florida State
From Alligator Army

This is our biggest rival. On the football side,
Florida and Florida State fight for the same recruits and each game is a chance to show the most talented high schools in America that Gainesville or Tallahassee is the best place to attend.

For those of us in the stands or alumni/students, this is class warfare. The histories of Georgia and Georgia Tech, South Carolina and Clemson are far more controversial than Florida and Florida State.
But, there is a much greater difference in academics and culture between UF and FSU than the previously mentioned rivalries.

The University of Florida is the Flagship University; Florida State is the Safety School.
We have an elite teaching hospital and brain research center; FSU has a circus and wanted a chiropractic school in a money grab to stay ahead of the surging USF and UCF medical programs. I will admit, UF grads can be snobs. But we've earned it.

FSU was originally the women's college and UF was the men's college. This changed after World War II. That is why older alums and fans still look at Miami and Auburn (former annual rivals) with more disdain than current generations.

The rivalry did not become a big deal until the 1970s and the success of Bowden, Florida's rebirth in the 1980's (and NCAA sanctions that followed), and Spurrier never defeating Bowden in Tallahassee.

Florida fans take a lot of pride in that Ron Zook's only victory against FSU was on the day they dedicated "Bobby Bowden Field" in Tallahassee.

The last time FSU won in the series was 2003, when an ACC officiating crew handed the game to FSU with six blown calls.
If you wonder why college football has the "review everything" replay system, that game is the reason.

Defeating FSU would be the sixth consecutive win in the series for Florida and might finally send Bobby Bowden to the retirement home, since he can't beat Urban Meyer.
Tim Tebow, the greatest player to come out of Florida's high schools, would finish 4-0 against the Seminoles, 3-0 as a starter. UF fans will be pleased, but Alabama is the bigger concern a week later in Atlanta.

A loss would be the worst in Florida's history. There is precedent as UF's upset victory in 1997 over FSU ended the Seminoles' undefeated season and chance at a National Championship.

If FSU wins, it would be payback for that game. It might finally send Bobby Bowden to the retirement home since he finally beat Urban Meyer. Yeah, win or lose, they all want Bowden gone.

Thanks again to the Blogs who participated in this round table.

Garnet and Black Attack
Leftover Hot Dog
All Sports Discussion
Shakin The Southland
From The Rumble Seat
Alligator Army

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  1. It will be strange not seeing Bowden on the sidelines for Florida State; he certainly had a phenomenal career and will be missed by the fans

  2. It won't be the same your're right. What he did in the 90s won't ever be repeated in my lifetime.

    And what he did in the 00s hopefully won't be repeated at FSU if Jimbo gets it right.

    Maybe Allstate can continue his legacy in their ads.

  3. Anonymous9:45 AM

    If FSU President Barron is interested in academics, how about considering the lost class time for travel for athletes who play mid-week games such as baseball, basketball, volleyball,etc.? Auburn, Athens, Columbia, Nashville, and Tuscaloosa are all nearer than all ACC opponents with the exception of Ga. Tech. and Clemson.


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