In the years of faithfully attending as many games as my work schedule and bank account will allow, I have seen my share of the good, the bad, and the ugly side of college football. It only takes attending one game to witness the less-than-glamorous side of fandom. Fans throwing bottles, rally towels, and even batteries. (Why you would feel the need to bring batteries to a football game? I’m still trying to figure out.) Then there’s the verbal diarrhea that spews out of the mouths of the fans from opposing teams. Heated arguments and deplorable terms I didn’t even know existed until I was in my 20’s.
And that’s just the Carolina games.
I’m not even going to get into the away games I’ve attended, where I’ve witnessed broken noses, busted beer bottles, and my favorite experience, a fan from some university in the Peach State spitting on a fan…after their team won.
Game day. Civil disobedience at its finest.
The games that seem to particularly get out of hand are rivalry games. Although these games are usually only for bragging rights for the year to follow, to the players and fans, everything is on the line.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
One of the most intense rivalries on the east coast comes from the South Carolina Gamecocks and Clemson Tigers. Separated by only about 130 miles, the in-state rivalry runs deep, dating back to the late 1800s. In 2014, the annual football game between the two schools was officially dubbed The Palmetto Bowl. Clemson currently leads the series 68-42-4, including the 56-7 win Saturday night.
Clemson is good. There’s no argument here; I’m neither blind, nor delirious. South Carolina was outplayed from start to finish as the No. 4 Tigers slaughtered the Gamecocks 56-7 in front of 81,542 fans in Memorial Stadium. The numbers don’t lie as they were outgained in yardage 380-52 in the first half and trailed 35-0 at the half. In his final home game for the Tigers, Deshaun Watson tied his career high with six touchdown passes, finishing with 347 yards. This win was the biggest margin of victory in the series since a 51-0 win in 1900.
With their third consecutive win the in the Palmetto Bowl, the Tigers (11-1) will go on to play Virginia Tech (9-3) in the ACC title game on Dec. 3 at 8pm. South Carolina (6-6), who didn’t necessarily foresee a bowl game as a possibility after a rocky start to the season, will await their bid, which will be determined by Dec. 4.
Not the finest play action for the Gamecocks. Freshman quarterback Jake Bentley completed 7 of 17 attempts for 41 yards and an interception in the first half before being pulled out due to a knee injury. Brandon McIlwain completed 6 of 11 attempts for 33 yards and ran the ball five times for 13 yards. The only saving grace from a shut out game was on a trick play in the third quarter, when receiver Deebo Samuel threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Edwards.
Head coach Will Muschamp summed it up nicely in his post-game interview, “Well, not a whole lot to say. We got beat by a better football team, so it’s disappointing, especially the way we started the game. Give them credit, they’ve got a good team, in all three phases we got whipped. On the road recruiting tomorrow, that’s how we’ll change our program.”
Tensions were high all week heading into the game Saturday, as they are every year with this rivalry match-up. There was even some pushing and shoving among the players long before the game even kicked off.
— Matt Dowell (@TheMattDowell) November 26, 2016
However, the most disturbing news coming out of Death Valley immediately followed the game’s ending, as several South Carolina players alleged hearing racial slurs from the rivals, both players and fans.
In an interview, Gamecocks linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams expressed his frustration with the disrespect he encountered prior to and throughout the game.
After the game, wide receiver Terry Googer took to Twitter to convey his experience with the Clemson fan base.
Never thought I would hear so many racial slurs in my life!! Classless is not a strong enough word to describe the actions!
— Terry Googer (@D1MANOS) November 27, 2016
My experience was with fans! I can't speak for any other player on my team https://t.co/RF2nBjHS56
— Terry Googer (@D1MANOS) November 27, 2016
Gamecock defensive end Dante Sawyer was also one of the players indicating the behavior witnessed during the game. Before making his Twitter profile private, he tweeted the following. He also tweeted this afternoon that Clemson center, Jay Guillermo, had reached out to him about the situation.
racism still alive in Clemson i see.. classless sobs, still calling people niggers is crazy.
— Dante Sawyer (@BuzzSawww) November 27, 2016
There is still a lot of chatter about the situation pertaining to the racial slurs, as well as the showboating throughout the game. Surely, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney will be asked about the allegations at some point. In the meantime, the show goes on, and I have no doubt the good, the bad, and certainly the ugly, will add some explosive fuel to the fire in this rivalry next year.