2012 Clemson/Carolina Football Preview: Deserving to Win

Roll Tigers. War Cocks. Why hasn’t South Carolina come close to the Yellowhammer State’s three-year domination of college football’s crown? Dabo Swinney and Kevin Steele might have an idea, though Steele has since been disappeared like a South American political enemy. Mike Shula and Cam Newton might know, across state lines in Charlotte. To win, you’ve got to really want it, and feel like you deserve it, like a Lexington County pol with video poker money.

And sometimes you need the right combination of coaches and players, something boldly illustrated in ESPNU’s replay of the 2012 Orange Bowl on Friday, when Steele and his players appeared to evaporate in front of West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen and his Viking raiders.

So, perhaps trying to marry a Cam Newton offense with a Nick Saban defense was a bit too much of a Frankenstein’s monster for Swinney and his crew to handle last year. But, plug in a defense that won’t give up 70 or blow apart against the Marylands of the world, and there’s reason to believe the Tigers can compete to defend its ACC title.

After all, Clemson is purported to have the best wide-outs in the game. Athlon says, “There might not be a better collection of offensive skill players anywhere in the nation than at Clemson. The pass-catching lawfirm of Watkins, Hopkins, Bryant, Brown, Humphries and Peake is as deep a collection of wide receivers as there in America. When quarterback Tajh Boyd steps to the line, he has to be giddy with anticipation when he sees the weapons lined up next to him.”

Last year, the Tigers averaged scoring 33 points and allowing 29. Brent Venables has been brought in from Oklahoma to put the latter number somewhere in the range of acceptable. Swinney told Sports Illustrated, “He’s been awesome. He brings a ton of experience, knowledge and energy to the defense. It has been a smooth transition and he’s been a great fit for our players, staff and Clemson. Hopefully we will be a defense that isn’t going to make a lot of mistakes. Hopefully we will be a sound, consistent, attacking defense that tackles well and minimizes big plays and makes people have to earn things and go the distance.”

To the discerning reader, that might be two hopefullys too much. But after hiring away Steele from Saban and expecting a top-20 defense, and getting the 81st-ranked defense in points allowed, it’s understandable why Swinney restrained in his endorsement.

Of course, to go the distance, Clemson will need to get past South Carolina, which has its eyes on a conference championship as well.

Unlike Clemson, Carolina has its own version of the Process. A ball of muscle at running back. A game manager at quarterback. A defense that creates sleepless nights for opposing coaches.

Andy Staples writes in SI, “Spurrier had limited success in his first few seasons in Columbia, but his teams began making school history after he scrapped his beloved Fun ‘n’ Gun and switched to a run-heavy zone-read offense that hogged the ball and allowed his stingy, athletic defense to rest between possessions. Though the schemes differ, the underlying philosophies of defensive dominance and offensive ball control are reminiscent of Saban’s model at Alabama.”

But Columbia hasn’t turned into Tuscaloosa East, and the Head Ball Coach hasn’t imitated Saban’s “Vladimir Putin of college football” routine. Steve Spurrier is, as he says, doing the best with what he has. You know he’d love to have a Tajh Boyd and a fleet of receivers like at Clemson. But these aren’t the players he has or has been able to get. The Gamecocks are tailored to their advantages, and those advantages are pretty good.

Facing facts, the SEC East is the same as it ever was, at least in the post-Urban Meyer era. Carolina will have to beat Georgia, then survive against LSU and Arkansas. An SEC Championship Game spot has moved from the realm of possible to expected. The only matter is if USC can handle the best the SEC West has to throw at it.

Spurrier wants it: “One reason I love being at South Carolina is that we have opportunities to achieve things for the first time. Some people would rather be at a place where you can win it all every year. Schools like Alabama, LSU and Florida. Once something has already been accomplished, it’s neat to do it again, but it’s not the first time ever. I look forward to doing some more first-time-ever things at South Carolina.”

To quote the Nature Boy, “To be the best, you got to beat the best. WOO!” Carolina has the potential to do that this season. Whether it does or not is up to the team.



by J.L. Mann Cromer, Jr., who served as the only true independent member of the South Carolina General Assembly from 1990-1998. Currently, he is a general practice attorney in Columbia, S.C., concentrating in probate and estate planning, criminal defense and personal injury law.

With Wes Wolfe. He wrote for 11 newspapers in five states and is the marketing coordinator for ACEC Virginia.

Posted in Legal Advice

15 thoughts on “2012 Clemson/Carolina Football Preview: Deserving to Win

  1. Bill Rabon on said:

    Very good blog Bu-Bu-Bubba. Just don’t start spredding that Tiger poo to heavy. You know Carolina will be Cocks to hard for your kitties to beat.lol

  2. Buford Pusser on said:

    Both Clemson and South Carolina have 9 win seasons. Dabo keeps heat off by strangling the cocks. It’s a perfect storm, gamecock fans expect $EC east title and Clemson expects to make a run at the Atlantic. Both fall short and instead of fans jumping off a bridge in Columbia or fans jumping in a lake in Pickens county, a giant sinkhole engulfs the state of South Carolina. In a bit of irony, Obama wins SC in the fall, but no record exists because of sinkhole.

  3. Paul on said:

    Its funny you brought this up, just watched the 2011 Carolina Clemson game last night, and yesterday ESPNU replayed the Orange Bowl again. W. Virgina just scored again Bubba.

    • Mary on said:


  4. Kenny Harrell on said:

    Lots of expectations – this could be a special season for both teams and I’ll be in Tigertown come 11/24 watching what I hope will be a huge game nationally. The openers for both teams scare me – I’m off to Nashville next week to see the Cocks take on a rejuvenated Vandy, and then Clemson grapples with Auburn without Sammy. If both teams get off to strong starts, look out. Go Cocks!

  5. Mary on said:

    Being a Gamecock fan for years has been a serious test of my resolve some years as many in my “house” are Clemson graduates, therefore Clemson fans…..BUT…this weekend, my nephew moved into the dorms at USC…..gonna even up the ‘house divided” odds…WOOOHOOO! Go Gamecocks!!! I will try to not post too much anti Clemson stuff on my pages…..bhahahah..yeah, right….love ya Bubba, I know you a kitty fan!!! :)

    • Jan Gibbs on said:

      When my son started at USC 3 years ago it threw my like for Gamecock football into a full obsessive state. Welcome to the club.

  6. John on said:

    I have lost respect for both of these institutions of “learning” as well as other division 1 programs in the country. First they should all realize they are supposed to be institutions of learning and not training mills for the NFL. They seem to sign and potentially cover up the fact that some of these top recruits do not meet the criteria to attend or be admitted to the schools, but it helps sell tickets so they allow it. Big promises, lots of looking and disservice to those that they allow to be there. They all have the top prospect and milk it with filing the stands and selling $5 cokes. These kids if they are as expected will only be there maybe 3 years after the universities have spent money on their education. I feel they should all sign contracts on entry committing to 4 years of their eligibility and if they leave early they should be penalized by repaying the full amount, after all they will be making millions in the NFL. Maybe then when these idiots have a microphone put in front of them they will say more than ummm and praise god not to mention all the other stupid stuff no one can understand and leaves you scratching your head. Look at all the current mess at UNC with the bogus courses that the football and basketball players are signed for and that should tell tales on where this has gone. Unfortunately most of these schools totally miss the point when it comes to what your degree is worth, sure Harvard is not kicking anyone’s ass on the field but unfortunately for those that come from the corner cutting colleges will be working for them.Priorities need to change.

  7. Paul on said:

    Didn’t Obozo and MOOchelle go to Harvard ? Man I’m impressed. Talk about corners cut.

  8. George on said:

    Love them Tigers……..Chew them chickens up !!!!!

  9. Ivan on said:

    What’s to blog Carolina is better

  10. Jan Gibbs on said:

    Wonderful wonderful impressive editorial. I think I love you Bubba. But I still love the Gamecocks more.

  11. Julie on said:

    11-win season for the Gamecocks!

    • Buford Pusser on said:

      Only in basketball, Julie.

      • Bubba Cromer on said:

        YOU said it, Buford!

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