Before a press conference on Thursday formally announcing the 2015 season-opener between South Carolina and North Carolina, the two schools’ athletics directors flipped a coin to see which school would be the home team.
South Carolina won the toss, and the teams expect to play in front of a sell-out crowd at Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 5, 2015, when the rivals face each other for just the fourth time since 1991.
USC also has the TV rights for the game by virtue of the coin toss. A game time is still being worked out.
“It’s obviously a very, very difficult schedule having played Clemson on an annual basis and adding this game to the schedule,” South Carolina AD Ray Tanner said. “But I also think it’s fair to say in the best interest of all the schools, going forward with the football championship playoff, that your strength of schedule will play a major factor if you have an opportunity at the end of the year. This is a tremendous enhancement for both of our schedules.”
Tanner said when the college football playoffs start that teams with a loss or two could be picked over undefeated teams because of strength of schedule.
The conversations between the schools and with the Charlotte Sports Foundation began more than a year ago, and both Tanner and North Carolina AD Bubba Cunningham toured the stadium last fall when the Panthers hosted the Giants for a Thursday night primetime game.
Will Webb, the executive director of the Charlotte Sports Foundation, said the hope is the two teams will meet again in Charlotte by 2019, when the Tar Heels would be the home team.
“The opening games were popular 10-15 years ago, and then everyone seemed to want to open at home and maybe get a win,” Cunningham said. “Now you’re starting to see the Labor Day games because there’s no professional football that weekend and it gives great exposure to college football. And a non-conference game like this really sets the tone for your season.”
Each school will get 12,500 tickets, with the Charlotte Sports Foundation controlling the distribution of the remaining tickets for the 73,778-seat stadium.
South Carolina has seven home games in 2015, and North Carolina has six. Cunningham said the school does not want to dip below six games each season, and the Gamecocks had to move their meeting with East Carolina to a later year in order to fit this game.
The two programs will meet on Aug. 29 this year in Columbia. It will be the first game between the schools since 2007, when the Gamecocks won 21-15 in Chapel Hill.
The Charlotte Sports Foundation hopes to make this season-opening game an annual event with a sponsor.
Much like the popular Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in the Georgia Dome each year, Charlotte could have its own annual season-opening game in the near future.
USC’s future non-conference schedules:
-- Aug. 29 (Thursday): UNC
-- Sept. 28: at Central Florida
-- Nov. 23: Coastal Carolina
-- Nov. 30: Clemson
-- Aug. 30: East Carolina (in Charlotte)
-- Oct. 18: Furman
-- Nov. 22: Troy
-- Nov. 29: at Clemson
-- Sept. 5: UNC (in Charlotte)
-- Sept. 26: Central Florida
-- Nov. 21: The Citadel
-- Nov. 28: Clemson