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The two Carolinas have underlying roles in the game Saturday.
South Carolina was one of the eight founding members of the Atlantic Coast Conference back in 1953, then left the league on its own after the 1971 school year. North Carolina was also one of the eight original ACC members with Clemson, Duke, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Virginia and Maryland.
While all that began 70 years ago, the two football teams that open the new season in Bank of America Stadium on ABC are in diametrically opposed positions when it comes to conference realignment.
The Gamecocks competed as an independent for 12 years before joining the old Metro Conference and eventually, in 1991, moving to the Southeastern Conference. Their position is solid and reaps the enormous TV distribution the SEC hands down to its members, which will soon include Texas and Oklahoma.
The Tar Heels are in the middle of the debate over realignment, largely because the ACC never embraced the role of poachers and are now looking at an uncertain future, stoking debates in the media and among coaches.
A columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, which is the big city newspaper for the Florida Gators, ripped the ACC for airing its dirty laundry in public and playing “woe is me” when Florida State (which joined the ACC in 1991) is the school whose administration and alumni are threatening out loud to bolt.
Then Steve Spurrier, the retired but still outspoken former coach at South Carolina and Florida, has come out against power conferences being built and says football is the sport causing complications that multiply almost daily.
The “Old Ball Coach” – as Spurrier was known – believes that if the football power 5s want to play against each other and hold an NFL-type playoff, they could do that but keep the rest of their leagues intact, so Olympic sports teams won’t have to spend money they don’t have to travel across the country.
That is a far more logical move. Form a Super College Conference with 64 teams that remain where they are, play eight “Super League” games and still play four against schools from their leagues not in the Super Conference.
Those non-super teams could still play for an ACC football title and bowl game. Granted, the ACC might have to add ECU and more schools for football to have a full conference schedule, but it’s less messy than what the two Carolinas now represent on both sides of the power grab that is all about the money.
Featured image via Associated Press/Nell Redmond
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