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USC's in-state schedule game plays favorites

South Carolina will play S.C. State this week for the second time in three years.

The Gamecocks have faced Wofford twice under Steve Spurrier, and have The Citadel and Furman on future schedules.

USC remains committed to scheduling the state's FCS (formerly Division I-AA) schools, with a few exceptions.

Athletics director Eric Hyman, who set up the current rotation with the FCS schools, said USC would prefer to play the state's more established programs rather than Coastal Carolina, Charleston Southern and Presbyterian, which are relative newcomers to the FCS ranks.

"You look at the four schools we're playing, they just have more tradition," Hyman said. "The fans recognize them. They've been playing football for a lot longer."

Since Coastal withdrew from the USC system in 1993, the Chanticleers have played the Gamecocks twice in men's basketball. The last meeting was an 88-74 Coastal victory on Dec. 11, 1993 - five months after Coastal became an independent, state-supported school.

The baseball teams have not met since 2002. The Chanticleers - whose nickname is a derivation of Gamecocks - have never faced USC since starting their football program in 2003.

In its brief history, Coastal has played or is scheduled to play in some of college football's biggest venues. The Chants went to Penn State last season, will meet Clemson at Death Valley on Oct. 31, and have games at West Virginia and Georgia the next two seasons.

Coastal athletics director Warren "Moose" Koegel said he has spoken to Hyman and former USC athletics director Mike McGee about getting on the Gamecocks' schedule, to no avail.

"I just think it would be a great game for the state of South Carolina and for us. It would be a wonderful thing for Coastal Carolina," Koegel said recently. "It'd be fun to see how we measure up."

Longtime USC trustee Eddie Floyd, an influential benefactor whose name adorns the Gamecocks' football offices, was board chairman when Coastal left the university system.

Asked last month about scheduling Coastal, Floyd said: "I'm not opposed to playing anybody, but I think it's got to be worth our while."

But in the next breath, Floyd said "loyalty" should be considered when USC makes its athletic schedules.

"I do think we need to look after our campuses, too. We need to have some loyalty," Floyd said. "We need to play Spartanburg (USC Upstate), Aiken and some of our campuses (in sports other than football)."

Hyman said USC likes scheduling the local schools because it keeps the guarantee money in the state and helps the schools' athletics budgets. It also makes fiscal sense for USC.

The Gamecocks paid Florida Atlantic $800,000 for its recent trip to Columbia, while S.C. State will receive $230,000.

Koegel said Coastal received a guarantee of $450,000 last year from his alma mater of Penn State. But the former Nittany Lions football player said playing the big schools goes beyond dollars and cents.

"The money helps us tremendously, but it's really about the experience," Koegel said.

Coastal coach David Bennett, who attended USC for a semester before transferring to Presbyterian, believes bringing his team to Williams-Brice Stadium would be a great experience for the Chants.

"I think a lot of people from our university would love to see Coastal play South Carolina because Coastal was part of the university (system)," he said.

But for others, that fact might be more of an obstacle than an enticement.

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