NOW THAT THE state Legislature has attempted to get involved in college athletics, here are five significant pieces of legislation our representatives and senators should consider:
1. MOVE USC-CLEMSON GAME
The real tradition of USC-Clemson football centered around playing the game on Big Thursday every year until 1960. The game was played as part of the State Fair in Columbia, and state employees got the weekday off from work.
Bring the tradition back: Play the game on a Thursday every year to open the college football season. Declare a state holiday. Capture a national television audience by kicking off every season with the traditional rivalry.
2. PLAY NORTH CAROLINA, GEORGIA
Mandate that USC must play its neighbors from North Carolina in every sport, every year. In two decades as an SEC member, USC has not established a secondary rivalry to Clemson.
Most fans would agree North Carolina could fill that void. Baseball fans would benefit most from this mandate. Can you imagine the excitement surrounding a Battle of the Carolinas three-game series, alternating the home site from year to year?
While we are at it, make Clemson play nearby rival Georgia every year in all sports.
3. NO RAISES IN ADDITION TO BONUSES
Incentive bonuses are written into contracts to reward coaches for outstanding seasons. So why do these coaches receive significant raises on top of the bonuses? Makes no sense, especially during an economic time when most state employees are receiving neither bonuses nor raises.
Steve Spurrier and Ray Tanner are the latest to gain financially from what amounts to a double-bonus contract.
Spurrier received $150,000 in bonuses because his football team won at least nine games and because it played in a bowl game. He could have earned up to $1 million in bonuses included in his contract if USC had won the SEC East, SEC or played in a BCS bowl game.
Yet, on top of rewarding him for his team’s play, the USC Board of Trustees approved another $750,000 a year raise for Spurrier. The Board also added incentive bonuses for winning 10 and 11 games in the future, which presumably will come with another hefty raise.
Tanner received in the neighborhood of $200,000 in incentive bonuses for his team winning a second consecutive national championship. Then the Board of Trustees approved an additional $140,000 annual raise.
The same fans who applaud the raises are the ones who complain when the athletics department gouges them with increased ticket prices, seat-licensing fees and rising concession costs.
4. LIMIT LENGTH OF FOOTBALL GAMES
All college football games played in the state shall not exceed three hours and 15 minutes. While the college game has benefited financially by the proliferation of televised games, those same telecasts have helped ruin the product.
TV timeouts have taken away any natural flow to a game. Despite recent rules changes to deal with the length of games, most exceed 3:15, and some last close to four hours.
Declare the game complete, done, over at three hours and 15 minutes. Let TV deal with that law.
5. MOVE THE CONFEDERATE FLAG
Perhaps Gov. Nikki Haley could work as hard at getting an NCAA basketball tournament to South Carolina as she did in keeping the RBC Heritage golf tournament in Hilton Head.
All she needs to do is get the Confederate flag moved from the State House grounds to a museum where it belongs.
In moving the flag, NCAA tournament first- and second-round games are certain to come to Columbia, Greenville or Charleston.