CLEMSON, SC -- Where did the hatred begin? That's easy.
It had nothing to do with football and everything to do with academics. Ben Tillman, later governor of South Carolina and U.S. Senator, campaigned for the establishment of a freestanding agricultural college - the implication being that South Carolina College wasn't good enough. He believed many of the graduates of South Carolina College to be "drones and vagabonds."
He went on to say, "having been taught that labor is degrading, the liberally educated graduates could easily become helpless beings - too proud to beg, too honest to steal, too lazy to work."
He wanted a college to train young farmers in the methods of progressive, scientific farming.
An opponent of Tillman said, "the farmers' movement is a good thing if it's a brisk one between the plowhandles."
And so the War began between Clemson and South Carolina, even before Clemson was founded and that first football game took place in 1896.
Since then, the fight between Clemson and South Carolina has primarily taken place within the context of the football teams, although Tillman's name is mentioned anytime South Carolina losses. He's given credit by Clemson fans for having cursed South Carolina's athletic teams, although no such thing ever happened. However, it spices the rivalry by keeping alive the name of the person chiefly responsible for the War.
Clemson has a 58-35-4 lead in the series, but the way the late Frank Howard would tell it, South Carolina had a huge advantage until the traditional Big Thursday game ended. "That deal at the State Fair was terrible for us," he said. "We didn't share in the program sales or the concessions. It was a very one-sided deal in favor of South Carolina. We were like step-children to them."
Every game between Clemson and South Carolina between 1896 (the first game) and 1959 was played in Columbia on the Thursday of State Fair week. Howard smelled a rat when the state legislature tried to pass a law that the game had to remain in Columbia during State Fair week. "Most of the state legislators were lawyers and most of the lawyers went to South Carolina," he said.
"I often tell the story about the first time the South Carolina fans had to come to Clemson," Howard recalled in one of his books. "They got up around Greenville and there was a sign on the road that said, 'Clemson, left.' I finish the story by saying, 'Everyone of those dumb devils turned around and went back to Columbia.'"
That story isn't too far from the one told by Clemson offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez to a group of ladies during a clinic put on by the Clemson coaches. Clemson, during the spring, had asked its home opponents for permission to wear white jerseys during games at Death Valley this season. Part of the reason was so that Clemson's opponents would wear darker colors in the sun.
"There's one team that said they would do it: South Carolina," Rodriguez told the crowd of ladies. "How stupid are they?"
South Carolina head coach Lou Holtz, soon after that comment, pulled his offer to have South Carolina wear dark jerseys.
If it seemed like during the 90's that the rivalry was turning benign, don't worry. There has been plenty recently to keep it alive.
Brad Scott's decision to take a job on Clemson coach Tommy Bowden's staff didn't sit well with some in Columbia. Then he was given a ride off the field on the shoulders of Clemson players after Clemson's 31-21 win in Columbia a year later. Many in Columbia saw it as showing up the Gamecocks.
Then, about a month ago, there was something that's simply referred to as "The Gaffney Situation."
Clemson received verbal commitments from three Gaffney High School football players earlier this season. A few weeks later, NCAA representatives received a tip that two of the players did landscaping work at the house of a Clemson assistant coach while being paid by a Clemson booster.
The NCAA showed up at Gaffney on a Monday and left five days later, reportedly without finding any wrongdoing. But not before Clemson and Carolina fans accused each other of trying to get the other in trouble with the NCAA.
One sports talk show in particular, Sports Talk With Phil Kornblut, was a lightning rod during the week that the NCAA was at Gaffney. Clemson fans accused Kornblut of slanting the news that week to make it appear that the NCAA's case against Clemson would result in the players having to rescind their commitments to play at Clemson.
"I talked to one coach to see what he though about our coverage," said Kornblut. "And he said, 'Look, I know you slant the news.' And I said, 'You think I'm slanting the news?'. He said, 'I know reporters slant the news to fit what you want people to think.'"
The implication from Clemson fans is that Kornblut, a South Carolina graduate, is a supporter of the USC athletic program and uses his position to promote its interests. The implication from South Carolina fans is that Kornblut is a turncoat who, despite his degree, is actually a Clemson fan.
"This has been a difficult year," he said. "I've caught more grief for trying to do a better job. No reporter goes to every Clemson news conference and then every Carolina news conference like I do, but for some people that is not good enough."
Kornblut can point to one thing that has made his job tougher: The Internet.
"It's taken the venom to another low," he said.
During the week the NCAA reps were in Gaffney, Kornblut was taken to task on the message boards. "You make a negative comment and it gets to the Internet and you're being ripped to high heaven," he said. "They quote you and make stuff up that's not even close to being accurate. If you're a Carolina graduate you say, 'He's in bed with the Clemson staff.' If you went to Clemson you say, 'He goes out drinking with the Carolina staff.' The Internet has just added to the stress level."
To be sure, the Internet has given fans a new level of coverage. Now, fans that live out of state can still follow their team. But, if you think Clemson-Carolina talk can get nasty ("Cock-a-doodle-do, Cock-a-doodle-do, Carolina Gamecocks to hell with you"), give fans on both sides the ability to talk without anyone knowing their identity.
Take this exchange on tigernet.com from Saturday afternoon after South Carolina was beaten 41-21 by Florida.
WOW....That one is TOO funny! -- tigerpaws_81
So was 54-7 -- FireAnts2K
Can't wait to see FSU lay one on Florida ! -- Tigerkat
You got THAT right! FSU is gonna KILL Florida! Over-rated! -- Tygur
Hey Tygur,,A Clemsuc'kz fan should never utter the words over-rated...lol -- IRONCOCK
Or this one from gamecockcentral.net.
Why don't we reschedule the Clempson gane (sic) to an earlier date in the season? We played them in October for the first 65 years of the series. During the post war years and up until the first end-of-season game at Dump Hole in 1960, we were playing even or better ball against them. I always thought we let Frank Howard get the upper hand in scheduling the historic game at the end of the season. The taters have always pulled BS like having an open date the week before the USC game or scheduling a real cream puff opponent. What do you posters think about an October date to play the Clempsons? -- 67gamecock
In reply to Why don't we reschedule the Clempson gane...I'm sure you would love to go back to playing every year in the farmers market. Speaking of fair, you may have been able to keep the game there a few years longer if usc had been smart enough to agree to let Clemson be the "home team" every other year. Usc greed ended the "Big Thursday" a few years earlier that it would have. Personally I think Clemson put up with it a lot longer than they should have. -- tigerjed
Then it gets personal.
Get this you moron...First, learn to spell game (not gane) before giving an opinion from a brain the size of a peanut.
Second, Clemson Sucks.
Third, well - you can't comprehend; so why try to write you (moo is your language). -- USC4EVER
Re: Speaking of morons....You just showed that you are one, unless you were intending to call 67 Gamecock a moron, which I am sure was not the case. That was his (or her) subject line with gane in it. Don't guess there is any point in trying to explain anything else to someone who has already proved he is stupid. -- tigerjed.
"The Internet has allowed people to adopt this hidden persona to hide behind and be downright rude about things," said Randy Miller, a Clemson fan from Winston-Salem, N.C. Miller said he's been to games in Columbia and has never had a problem with South Carolina fans. In fact, he took his nine-year-old daughter to the game last year and was surrounded by Carolina fans. He said they watched the game without incident. The Internet is a different story. "The Internet allows a guy to hide and be completely obnoxious," he said.
But then what would the rivalry be if it were completely civil?
"I've only had negative experience with one individual in the Internet," said Jason Derrick, a lawyer and South Carolina fan from Charleston. "I don't want to say who he was, but he brought absolutely nothing to the chat. He was absolutely obnoxious. It was probably a 12-year-old."
Derrick thinks the level of venom on the Internet is overrated.
"Some Clemson fans think that some of the South Carolina fans are Satin in Garnet. They're just very loyal to their team and you'll find those types on both sides. I really do enjoy it. I have a very good time on there. It's become addictive at time. You have to cut that thing off to get to work."
This week could get interesting not only on the Internet but also on the field. Clemson, after being ranked in the top-five has lost two in a row and would like to finish the season with a win and then head to the Gator Bowl. South Carolina, with a win, has a chance for its best season in over a decade.
"It'll be a pretty tense week," said Kornblut.
Somehow, you have to believe that would suit Ben Tillman just f