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South Carolina football, history, and memories – an interview with Travis Haney

South Carolina Clemson football rivalry State of Disunion

The South Carolina Clemson football rivalry - a state of disunion

South Carolina football.  For many years, it’s a program that’s been trying to establish itself in college football with one of the most passionate fan bases in the country.  In 1984, the Gamecocks finally made the national spotlight.  And in 2010, the “chicken curse” was broken.

This week the College Football Travel Tour comes to South Carolina.  And this one is personal.  I have grown up with college football but more importantly, I grew up on South Carolina Gamecock football.  And in 1997, I graduated from the University of South Carolina.

College football inspired me to travel and this year, I combined my two greatest passions – travel and college football – to start a travel and sports series.

After kicking off the College Football Travel Tour at the University of Washington, I make the long trek across the country for this one.  While many may say you can’t come home again, I didn’t want to miss this one as South Carolina and Clemson face off in one of the greatest rivalries in college football.

The South Carolina – Clemson game provided a lot of passion and featured two programs having great seasons.  Fights in the stands, two highly ranked football teams, and a dominating victory by the Gamecocks was just one game in a rivalry that means so much more to this state.

South Carolina Gamecock football

The tradition and history of South Carolina football goes back to 1892 with that first game against Furman.  That season began with no coach and a 44-0 loss.  Ever since then, this program has been working and building to try and become a household name in college football.

In 1896, a new rivalry was established with a school from upstate South Carolina – Clemson.  115 years later, this is one of the oldest, most passionate, and hated rivalries in all of college football.  From shots being fired on the campus of USC to fraternity pranks and brawls, there are numerous stories, dramatic moments, and lots of hate in this rivalry.

While it’s not as well known around the country due to the lack of national prominence of these two teams, this may be one of the most passionate rivalries in college football.  You can say that this has led to a state of disunion.

State of Disunion – a history of the South Carolina Clemson rivalry

As a child in the state of South Carolina, you make a choice growing up – root for South Carolina or Clemson.  For some, this choice is made for them because rooting for one of these schools is a family tradition.  Going against family tradition and rooting for the other school has led to a house divided in many homes.

Sometimes experiences dictate who you follow.  There have even marriages where one spouse roots for Carolina and the other Clemson – which leads to sleeping in different beds during the week of the big game.  For those who grew up in South Carolina, everyone makes a choice – regardless of where they live or where they end up going to school.

State of Disunion is so much more than a history book on South Carolina and Clemson football games.  It seeks to tell the stories and share some of the characters that have been a part of this rivalry.

As the third longest uninterrupted rivalry in all of college football, the Gamecocks and Tigers have their rivalry game in the national spotlight.  With both teams at 9-2, these are two of the top 20 teams in the country.

However, this game is much more than just a prime time game on ESPN.  It’s about family, it’s personal, and the passion runs deep regardless of the records or rankings .

Former Gamecock sports writer Travis Haney spent a number of years covering the Gamecocks.  He has seen the ups and downs in recent years under the Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier eras.  Now, South Carolina is enjoying one of its most successful stretches in its history.  And he has learned what Gamecock football and sports is all about.

From a Gamecock perspective, he has seen the rivalry with Clemson up close.  And this rivalry goes beyond the football field to nearly every sport.  In 2010, the South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the Clemson Tigers two straight games in Omaha to go on and win the national championship in the 2010 College World Series.

Travis put this title winning story into words when he wrote a book about that championship season and is working on the follow up book to the 2011 national title.  Now, he’s had the opportunity to partner with Larry Williams to talk about the South Carolina – Clemson football rivalry in State of Disunion.

I had the chance to talk with Travis Haney about the rivalry, his time at the Post and Courier covering the Gamecocks, his best memories in Gamecock sports, the College World Series national titles for the Gamecocks, and where this South Carolina – Clemson rivalry ranks in college football.

Travis didn’t grow up covering the Gamecocks or Clemson.  However, he understands that passion and knows what it means to be a college football fan in the state of South Carolina.

For those interested in the South Carolina – Clemson rivalry and learning more about the traditions and stories of one of the oldest rivalry games in college football, check out the book State of Disunion by Travis and Larry Williams.  Go to stateofdisunion.com to see where you can buy the book.  Follow Travis on Twitter or follow his work with the Oklahoma Sooners.

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Filed Under: College Football Travel TourSports and travelTravel TipsUniversity of South Carolina


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  1. In the fall of 2004 I worked for three months in Greenville, South Carolina. It was interesting to see the fierceness of this rivalry up close.

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