COLUMBIA, SC — Correction: Gov. Nikki Haley also endorsed state Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, and Greg Hembree, R-Dorchester. Both Senators won.
Thompson for QB?
Gov. Nikki Haley has a break-even endorsement record in South Carolina.
Consider her previous endorsements:
• Mitt Romney Lost
• State Sen. Katrina Shealy Won
• State Senate candidate Dee Dee Vaughters Lost
• State Sen. Larry Martin Won
• State Sen. candidate Tony Barwick Lost
• U.S. Rep. Tom Rice Won
Thats .500, only break-even because Haley endorsed some shoo-ins Martin and Rice.
Now, however, may come the true test of Haleys endorsement power: Who should be the starting quarterback at the University of South Carolina?
Senior Connor Shaw has led the Gamecocks to back-to-back 11-win seasons the first time that has ever happened in the 121-year history of the program. But junior Dylan Thompson beat Clemson and threw a last-second touchdown in the Outback Bowl to beat Michigan so he has momentum on his side.
Does he have the governors endorsement, too?
Thompson and Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd were Haleys guests at the State House for her annual State of the State address Wednesday. Boyd is no surprise. He is the undisputed quarterback for Clemson, and Haley a Clemson graduate is a huge fan.
But there was no sign of Shaw at the State House.
Haley introduced Boyd and Thompson as the quarterbacks who led both the Clemson Tigers and the South Carolina Gamecocks on game-winning drives on the biggest stage of their lives. You could argue that because Shaw is from Georgia and Thompson is from South Carolina Haley went with the home state guy.
But Boyd is from Virginia.
Sources tell The State that despite Haleys Clemson colors, she has been known to trade text messages with USC Coach Steve Spurrier. Could Haley be lobbying for Thompson as USCs starter? (The way Thompson played against Clemson last year, Gamecock fans only can hope.)
The governors football advice sometimes solicited, other times unsolicited, but, of course, always sound stays between coaches and the governor, Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said. Dont expect her to telegraph any plays to teams Carolina or Clemson may face in the SEC or ACC championship games. But fair warning to Coach Spurrier: take the governors advice during Carolina-Clemson week at your own risk.
UPDATE: Thompson will get a chance to make the governor's choice look good this spring. He along with redshirt freshman Brendan Nosovitch and incoming freshman Connor Mitch will get the snaps at quarterback in spring practice while Shaw recovers from foot surgery, Spurrier said Saturday.