Clemson University

USC-Clemson: 10 ways to improve rivalry

Talk about your bogus premises.

Improve the South Carolina-Clemson football series? Why would we want to mess with that?

After all, we have one of the most intense, most heated, most dysfunctional rivalries in college football, located in a state about which it was once said, "too small to be a nation, too large to be an insane asylum."

Don't talk to me about other intrastate feuds; has anyone ever been shot because of an argument over, say, Georgia-Georgia Tech? Ole Miss-Mississippi State? Florida-Florida State?

Alabama-Auburn ... well, maybe.

Still, that's what the editors requested from this commentary: 10 ways to make the USC-Clemson series better. In fact, there's one "easy" way - Win more, Gamecocks! You're 2-10 vs. the Tigers since 1997! - but that one's out of my control.

For that matter, so are all the following. But what the heck.

RESTORE BIG THURSDAY

If nothing else, moving the game back to October during the annual S.C. State Fair would assure both schools an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, under "largest one-day traffic gridlock." Still, it would restore a tradition dead for 50 years but not forgotten. As for playing in Columbia every season ... hey, it's not like USC was dominating the series even back then.

BIG THURSDAY IN NOVEMBER

Thanksgiving weekend has been impacted since the SEC and ACC schedules dictated the game be moved to Saturday. So why not take it all the way? Imagine: turkey at tailgates, Clemson fans with orange pumpkins on their heads, and three full days afterward to get over a loss, and attendant hangover.

BIG MONDAY

Do your Thanksgiving celebrating Thursday-Sunday, then cap off the long weekend with a prime-time USC-Clemson matchup. ESPN would have no problem getting on board; got to be better than another Mid-American Conference thriller.

ROAD TRIP

Every third year, move the Big Game to a big venue: Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium, Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Let others see what USC-Clemson is all about while assuring both teams' fans a "bowl game" experience. Hey, it works for Georgia-Florida.

HALF-AND-HALF STADIUM

Taking a nod from Texas-Oklahoma, divide tickets for each year's game down the middle. Picture Williams-Brice Stadium one year, Memorial Stadium the next, with one side of the stands garnet, the other orange. Would look great on national TV.

ALUMNI SPECIAL

Picture Chesterfield High coach Steve Taneyhill firing passes to celebrity golfer Sterling Sharpe. Visualize Clemson administrator Jeff Davis blitzing from the corner, colleague Levon Kirkland up the middle. Think of the spike in liniment sales and ER visits.

ALL-SPORTS WEEK

A seven-day spectacular. Golf teams battling Monday at Cobblestone Park or the Walker Course. A twi-night baseball doubleheader at Carolina Stadium or Doug Kingsmore on Tuesday. Men's and women's basketball games on Wednesday. Track and field, swimming and diving on Thursday. Men's and women's soccer on Friday. Tennis on Sunday. Did we leave anyone out?

RETRO COACHES

Turn over the teams to former coaches for one game. How about Jim Carlen's running offense vs. Danny Ford's defense? Lou Holtz and Tommy Bowden? Sparky Woods vs. Tommy West?

RETRO UNIFORMS

The NFL has proven nostalgia sells. Harken back to the days of the all-garnet-clad Fire Ants defenses for USC, including those Washington Redskins-style helmets (sorry, coach Spurrier), or Clemson in its gone-and-unlamented all-purple look. Even better - leather helmets and wool jerseys.

GREEK WEEK

The ultimate in viewer-friendly (if not November-friendly) attire, or non-attire. Uniforms? We don' need no stinkin' uniforms. But as a concession to Southern propriety, players can wear loincloths - garnet and orange ones, of course. Tatoo parlors would get a boost, too; depending on player preference, numbers could be temporary or permanent. Now THAT'S taking one for the team.

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