Haley, a Clemson grad, weighing in on USC QB controversy?

January 20, 2013 

South Carolina and Clemson quarterbacks Dylan Thompson and Tajh Boyd were two of Gov. Nikki Haley's special guests for her State of the State speech inside the House Chamber of the State House.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com Buy Photo

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

That’s .500, only break-even because Haley endorsed some shoo-ins – Martin and Rice.

Now, however, may come the true test of Haley’s 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 governor’s endorsement, too?

Thompson and Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd were Haley’s 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 Haley’s Clemson colors, she has been known to trade text messages with USC Coach Steve Spurrier. Could Haley be lobbying for Thompson as USC’s starter? (The way Thompson played against Clemson last year, Gamecock fans only can hope.)

“The governor’s football advice – sometimes solicited, other times unsolicited, but, of course, always sound – stays between coaches and the governor,” Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said. “Don’t 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 governor’s 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.

The State is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service