Aug. 4, 2015
The rivalry between South Carolina and Clemson has always been intense. Whether it's on the football field, basketball floor, baseball diamond or even a game of tiddlywinks, fans and student-athletes from both institutions have an enormous sense of pride when their respective school defeats the in-state rival. On Tuesday at the South Carolina Statehouse, the two universities announced a year-long competition with the launch of the Certified SC Grown Palmetto Series sponsored by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.
"We've been keeping score for a long time," said South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner. "Not only will people understand what happens on November 28 (date of South Carolina/Clemson football game), but now you're going to keep score with what happens on August 28."
August 28 marks the date of the first event in the series when the South Carolina women's soccer team travels to Clemson to play the Tigers.
"We certainly highlight our football, our baseball and our basketball games," said Clemson Athletics Director Dan Radakovich. "But there is a lot of great competition with some of our Olympic sports as well. So each of one of those sports, when we play each other, they will count for a point. At the end of the year, we'll tally all of that together, and we'll have another great celebration for the winning program."
"It's important to recognize that the passion exists in a soccer game between those two schools just as it does in a football game between the two schools," said Eric Nichols, South Carolina's Associate Athletics Director/Chief Marketing Officer. "It's like that for every sport. We're all at the threshold for passion in every one of the sports."
The respective broadcast and sponsorship rights holders for each school, IMG and Learfield, helped do a lot of the leg-work to put it all together. A trophy will be awarded to the winning school each year.
It's going to be a lot of fun. There will be a lot of jabbing, but we will have good sportsmanship.Ray Tanner
Fans from either school have been known to puff out their chests or hold their heads a little higher after particular head-to-head meetings between the Gamecocks and the Tigers. That's not likely to stop, but now the true bragging rights for a Certified SC Grown Palmetto Series champion will be based upon the following criteria each academic year:
There are a few other details for certain sports that allow the two teams to play multiple times per year:
There is also a community service portion of the series in which the winner of a food drive between the two schools to feed the hungry will receive one point, and the school whose student-athletes register the highest cumulative grade point average for the fall and spring semester will also receive one point. For the academics portion, Clemson's Office of Institutional Research and the Registrar's Office at South Carolina will be calculating the GPAs.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," Tanner said. "There will be a lot of jabbing, but we will have good sportsmanship."
"This is something both schools have wanted for a while," Nichols said. "We want to award a winner for the school that had the best year. This began to get some real traction last spring with a lot of communication between the two schools about how to make it fair. Both schools acknowledge that when we play each other in any sport, it is great entertainment and good theater."
To learn more or for those concerned about who is keeping the official tally, the results will be tracked at www.palmettoseries.com. That site will be linked from each school's respective athletics department web site.
"The Palmetto Series is going to be a great year-long initiative," said Hugh Weathers, S.C. Commissioner of Agriculture. "What makes a great rivalry is competition, passion, and the fact that we don't agree. We're either all-in for (Clemson) orange or all-in for (South Carolina) garnet. The one thing that this Palmetto Series is going to do is give us a place we can agree. That is that South Carolina farmers are brining great products to us as consumers, and through the Palmetto Series, were going to highlight that. All of what we're talking about ties our past, to the present and to the future."
Let the games begin.