Lawmakers say no to requiring Clemson, USC to play

02/08/2012 5:00 AM

02/08/2012 12:35 PM

A House subcommittee Wednesday shot down the idea of requiring the football teams of USC and Clemson to face off annually, saying it is unnecessary government intervention.

“These matters should be handled by the universities and trustees,” said. Rep. Lester Branham, D-Florence, and chairman of the subcommittee that voted 7-0 to deny the requirement.

Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Lexington, introduced the measure because of growing fear that recent conference realignments could one day mean the two teams would not meet -- as they have done for the past 103 consecutive years. It is the second, oldest rivalry in college football history.

“This is important to the state,” Ballentine said during the meeting. “It is something the Palmetto State could be proud of, should be proud of.”

But both universities opposed the measure, saying it’s best left to the schools themselves to set their schedules. Officials from both schools also said they cannot imagine a future scenario when they would not meet up.

Ballentine said he accepts the denial of his bill and stands ready to re-introduce it in the future if needed.

“I still think there’s the possibility in the future that the game could be in jeopardy,” Ballentine said. “If that happens, I stand ready to help if the situation changes.”

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