Posted by Jerry Hinnen
With every signal coming out of SEC HQ indicating the league is highly unlikely to follow the ACC's lead and pursue a nine-game league schedule, the 116-year intra-state rivalry between South Carolina and Clemson isn't in any immediate danger of being interrupted by the league's recent expansions. But one Palmetto State legislator has decided he'd rather not take any chances.
South Carolina state representative Nathan Ballentine has proposed that state law require the Gamecocks and Tigers to meet each year on the gridiron, continuing the nation's second-longest continuously played college football rivalry. The proposal will be examined by House lawmakers Wednesday, the State reports.
"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, a South Carolina graduate from Lexington, S.C. "With all the conference realignment, we just wanted to make sure this annual game continues ... You saw Texas and Texas A&M ... 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."
Remarkably, the series has apparently been saved once already by state congressional fiat--according to Ballentine, no game was scheduled between the two teams in 1952 until the legislature stepped in.
But that's not argument enough for officials at either school, who agreed that the legislature's intervention at this stage is unnecessary.
"Clemson would prefer to not have to legislate this issue," Tiger athletic director Terry Don Phillips said, "as I cannot conceive of a realistic scenario that would prohibit Clemson and South Carolina from continuing our football series."
Which makes us wonder--was this all a grand plot on Ballentine's part to prove to the two schools that they can agree on something? After the epic war of (misattributed) words between Dabo Swinney and (not actually) Steve Spurrier following this year's Gamecock beatdown, could the two programs have needed the reminder not to travel down the road of public in-fighting and back-biting that poisoned the rivalry between the Aggies and 'Horns?
To answer those questions: no, it wasn't, and no, they didn't. But as college football fans, we can understand Rep. Ballentine wanting to play it safe all the same.
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