Clemson, Carolina: Changing places

The Head Ball Coach claimed one of the game balls from Saturday for himself, and it was well-deserved. Carolina and Clemson not only looked like they traded places historically in the Gamecocks’ 34-13 win, but are mirror-opposites of where the teams were midway through this season. The 2011 Tigers are definitely not in the conversation for the best-ever at Clemson. But USC is one bowl win away from ending the argument as the best group of Gamecocks fielded in Columbia.

When asked about grabbing the game ball after the final whistle, Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said, “The ref was walking off with it. I said I might as well grab it. Nobody else seemed to want it. I like to fix them up. The 10 wins (was the reason). It’s neat to beat Clemson because historically they’ve owned South Carolina, but they don’t own us right now, that’s for sure. Mainly the 10 wins (is why it’s important). We talked about winning 10, more than we talked about beating Clemson. I hope our fans have come to the conclusion that to beat your rival, hating them is not the answer. Hating them and trying to kick their tails is not the answer. The answer is how our guys played tonight.” Even his harshest critics woould have to admit those are some pretty impressive words.

As strange as it sounds, maybe it took cutting ties with a fifth-year senior, mercurial quarterback and losing a Heisman Trophy-candidate running back to injury for the pieces to come together. Because after six years of plugging away and struggling, Spurrier’s Gamecocks have matured into a quality program while competing at the highest level of the game. A lot of the credit can be given to USC quarterback Connor Shaw. That kid was ON FIRE!

“Defensively, the quarterback beat us, and that is the most disappointing thing to me coming out of this game, that we let the quarterback beat us,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “We knew exactly what they were going to do, and we couldn’t stop it. Really poor on third down, and then gave up some big plays at some tough times. Lost the turnover margin again, just not playing winning football, simple as that. I congratulate South Carolina.”

Spurrier added, “Connor can take care of the ball and run with it. Every now and then he pulls it down when it’s not there. He played with no turnovers, no interceptions. That was huge. He doesn’t have very many stupid plays. He’s gained confidence.”

I love Clemson and am so proud to call myself a Tiger. Like many of my fellow Clemson faithful friends, when we were 8-0, I was a walkin’ around as high as a Georgia pine. But I am honestly numb and baffled as I have watched the last four games. I pray that Dabo can pull some miracle and turn the situation around before next weekend. The Va. Tech Hokies are kicking ass and taking names right now and I don’t want “Clemson” to be added to that list. But this piece is not about Clemson. It’s about a Damn-good Gamecock Team that has turned adversity into unprecedented success, and they are to be commended for it.

All congratulations to Carolina, Shaw, defensive leaders Melvin Ingram and DeVonte Holloman. And even to the The Ol’ Ball Coach… But if the Gamecocks go 10-2 next season, it’d be real nice for this Tiger if Clemson was included in the “2.”

 by J.L. Mann Cromer, Jr., an Attorney licensed to practice in South Carolina, California & The District of Columbia. He received his BA in 1985 from Clemson University and his JD in 1988 from the University of South Carolina School of Law.

with Wes Wolfe. He’s written for 11 publications in five states, and is the proprietor of The Five Points Flood.

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23 thoughts on “Clemson, Carolina: Changing places

  1. Sandy on said:

    I’ll be in Garnet scrubs tomorrow! :) Great game!

  2. Mary on said:

    Gotta Love All SC Teams, but my fav is the Gamecocks, GOOOOO!!! Try again next year Clemson!!

  3. John on said:

    No doubt that Clemson had a great recruiting class the last few years BUT they so far are only successful against Carolina 1 out of four meetings. Another thing to look at is Dabo’s record in bowl games which at this point is 1 out of 3. I think you have to look at the big picture success in post season play under this coach to see if the program is moving forward or backward and the record will speak for itself. Sure it’s easy to beat up on some substandard ACC teams but when they get out of their element they stall in traffic. It did not help Bthat their star receivers could not catch a pass but I suspect that the quarterback had no time to prepare for the pass only added insult to injury. There were few adjustments in defense in the second half as well as offense. If I were a tiger fan I would be very worried about the championship game as well as any bowl appearance. The achillies heal of this team has been exposed and it seems nothing is done or can be done to fix the problem.All any team has to do is study GT, USC and NC and they will beat them. They know if you get in the face of the QB and press the two receivers they fold like lawn chairs.

    Thanks for the props on Carolina it shows class.

  4. Thomas on said:

    Shaw seems to have turned the corner of his career. Hopefully this means that Spurrier has found a reliable QB that he can count on. That defense is damn good. Not taking anything away from Clemson, who overall had a good year, but having so many young players at important positions can take its toll. They have a bright future.

  5. Bonnie on said:

    Yes, congratulations to the Gamecocks. They have certainly taken some hard knocks this season, but have emerged with a lot of respect and an awesome quarterback in Connor Shaw.

    Such a sad time for the Tigers. They were supposed to have a terrible season and stunned everyone with their prowess over the first several games. Then they started falling apart. What in the world caused it do you think? I just so hope the team that was there the first part of the season returns to win the ACC Championship this Saturday. Go TIGERS!

  6. MikeG on said:

    Bubba, you are a class act…A good many of my Clemson friends are soooo obnoxious during the season (as I’m sure some Gamecock fans are, and even me…being fair about it), but the one or two that are not, mainly you, give me hope and reason to pull for Clemson (when they are not playing us) as a way of supporting our state! So, by your good example, I say Go Tigers and whip those Hokies!!! WTH is a Hokie anyway? :-)

  7. Gamecock.Girl on said:

    This Gamecock Girl has been crowing all season. And last Saturday those proud Gamecocks strutted their stuff in front of the country. As any true South Carolinian knows, The Palmetto Bowl is the most coveted game of the season. Glad to keep that title at home in Columbia.

  8. Pat Chisum on said:

    nicely done….

    Go Gamecocks!

  9. Rod on said:

    Moral: Never ever write a check for more then you can cash! Tweet-tweet! Go Gamecocks!!!

  10. Lib Tucker on said:

    Yes, I am crowing – it isn’t often that Carolina beats Clemson three years in a row. But, what happened to Clemson? Seems like to me, after they beat Auburn (a talented SEC team and not a lowly ACC team), they developed an attitude that “we can beat anyone, as long as we just show up.” In my opinion, that is the fault of the coaching staff. I do think that the future of both teams looks good. Both Conner and Boyd will continue to develope into better qb’s. I think Clemson will be lucky to keep Watkins for two more years before the pro’s come after him. And, next year, with Marcus coming back and Brandon Wilds as his back-up, should be a sensational year.

  11. Paul Abrams on said:

    Fear the Chicken Bubba.

  12. ben Moise on said:

    It is patently obvious that Clemson now has the “Chicken Curse!”

  13. Joseph Maxberry on said:

    Very disappointing…No energy…No passion…No tempo on offense. It appears that this Clemson team is no longer concerned about the rivalry, but only concerned about getting to the ACC Championship game. Losing three of your final four regular season games shows a lack of focus and leadership; very frustrating

    • Andrew Williams on said:

      Still say GO CITADEL BULLDOGS!

  14. Kim Watson on said:

    I’m still flying my Clemson banner high and waiting on this Saturdays game for the ACC CHAMPIONSHIP.
    Congradulations to the Gamecocks on thier win last week end and good luck with your bowl game.

  15. Scott Anderson on said:

    Nice blog. You are to be commended for keeping it so high-minded.

  16. Flynn Bowie on said:

    1095. That’s the number of days since South Carolina last lost to Clemson in football. And counting!

  17. TODD L on said:

    Congrats to the COOTs!


    Boyd – Please throw the football!!!!

    Steele – How come you were the only person who didn’t know Shaw was going to run?

  18. TODD L on said:

    6 – 4 . That’s Clemson’s record over the last 10 games including the 3 game slide

  19. Mark on said:

    Class Act, Bubba.
    Three months ago we were caught up in the rivalry between these two historic schools and had a smack talking discussion with you and the Clemson fans. Remember? You had Clemson in the BCS title game after going 5-0 and you had Spurrier living under a bridge in West Columbia.
    I wrote some harsh comments and your cousin Larry referred to USC as the Shamecocks. Larry, are you still flying the orange tiger paw flag off your station wagon today?
    I told you then that you would lose 2 games and I felt like Clemson would lose to GT. Triple option is tough to defend. Cannot mimic it in practice and no school should schedule a triple option team (GT, Navy, Wofford) and did not expect loss to NC State.
    We played a great game on both sides of the ball and held Clemson to the lowest total yards in 44 years.
    My father was a sportswriter at The State in the 60′s. Outdoor hunting,fishing) and some Gamecock coverage on sports and I am proud of our team.
    Bubba, I am going to ACC championship game Saturday and hope your offense shows up. It would be nice to see the Tigers beat VT.

  20. BR-549 on said:

    Well, I have to admit that Bubba just oozes class with this blog. Nicely done, Bubba! Now, I can’t smack talk because of the guilt that I might would feel. Well, for the first time since I can actually remember, USC has a 3 game winning streak against their rival and I feel all aglow. This must be how a Tiger fan has felt all these years.

  21. Sherry Shealy Martschink on said:

    What I really, really like is the high-road taken by Spurrier and by Swinney in their post-game remarks. Good sportsmanship and civility are never wrong.

  22. Christina on said:

    VT fans… know how to score 34 points against Clemson? Start your 2nd string QB, your 4th string running back and the point guard from the basketball team!!!!