Palmetto State football provides the subject and a quiz on this gridiron obsession presents the challenge.
- Which coach holds the record for the most games won by his college teams in the state?
- Who is the career leader in rushing yardage among players from state college teams?
- Name the state college player who scored the most career touchdowns.
- Who compiled the best career passing efficiency rating among state college players?
Hint: Do not assume the obvious.
That first question will stump all but the most knowledgeable fans, and the others are challenging. But the answers are easy to come by thanks to John Daye and Fritz Hamer.
The pair have compiled a history of football at Palmetto State colleges for their recently released book "Glory on the Gridiron - A History of College Football in South Carolina."
The project grew out of an exhibit the pair compiled for the South Carolina State Museum, where Hamer is chief curator of history.
"There have been books on South Carolina and Clemson, but we found there is so little about college football in the state as a whole," Hamer says. "Sports are such a significant part of our makeup and football is especially big, and we thought this would be an opportunity to bring everything into focus. It really amazes me that there isn't a lot more because of the significance of football in the state."
Daye, a longtime high school coach with an itch for history, noted many of the schools do not have all facts and figures on file, and he needed to newspaper files to secure information.
"I'm talking about in the 1960s and even later, some schools had incomplete statistics," Daye says. "I did a passing efficiency chart in order to compare some older players with current players and getting correct information was a difficult process."
Another hint: The answer to question 4 is a current head coach at a state college.
But the authors overcame those obstacles and compiled a fascinating array of facts, stories and data. They found that Wofford faces Furman in the state's first inter-collegiate varsity game in 1889, and that both schools banned the game for several years.
Background on the Jacobs Blocking Trophy amazed Hamer, who says, "Until recently, linemen had been virtually ignored and here's someone at Presbyterian College who came up with a trophy (for linemen) in 1928."
"The book is full of things like that, things you normally wouldn't think about," Daye says.
Lost are many records from historically black colleges. For example, they discovered Claflin once fielded a team, but little else.
"It's too bad that no one had the foresight at most of the schools to archive more information and pictures," Hamer says.
Nevertheless, they found a wealth of heretofore scattered information and produced a must-read for serious football fans of all schools.
Who knew Bobby Lamb, Furman's current coach, ranks first in passing efficiency during his career with the Paladins (question 4)? Or Wofford quarterback Shawn Graves' 72 touchdowns are the most by a state player (question 3)? Or Furman's Louis Ivory (5,353 yards, 149 more than South Carolina's George Rogers) is the state's rushing leader (question 2)? Or Billy Laval, with 168 wins at Furman, USC and Newberry, is the leader in coaching wins (question 1)?
Want more questions?
Who were the Medicos, the Seceders and the Maroons?
Check "Glory on the Gridiron" for the answers.