(FOX Carolina) - With the SEC's decision to move to only conference football games for the fall 2020 season, the in-state rivalry game between the Clemson Tigers and the South Carolina Gamecocks is effectively canceled, breaking a 111-year streak in college football rivalries.
While the Atlantic Coast Conference said universities could schedule one in-state non-conference game on Wednesday, the Southeastern Conference's decision effectively dashes the in-state rivalry between the Tigers and the Gamecocks.
“This new plan for a football schedule is consistent with the educational goals of our universities to allow for the safe and orderly return to campus of their student populations and to provide a healthy learning environment during these unique circumstances presented by the COVID-19 virus,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a Thursday afternoon announcement. “This new schedule supports the safety measures that are being taken by each of our institutions to ensure the health of our campus communities.”
TigerNet.com reports this move breaks a rivalry that has seen both teams throw down on the turf every season since 1909. But the Gamecocks and Tigers aren't the only teams losing their rivalries amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. TigerNet notes the Louisville-Kentucky, Florida-Florida State, and Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalries are now effectively called off.
Clemson can still decide on another non-conference game to play this season under the ACC's allotment.
Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp said "It's unfortunate that we will not be playing Clemson this season but that wasn't our choice, it was a league decision. That's a game that is important to our program, our institution and our state, and one that President Caslen and Coach Tanner pushed hard to make happen. I look forward to renewing the rivalry in 2021."
Meanwhile, Clemson athletics director Dan Radakovich also responded, saying "Clemson aggressively lobbied the ACC to include an additional non-conference game for the primary purpose of maintaining our long-standing rivalry game with South Carolina. We’re disappointed to hear of the scheduling decision announced by the SEC, as we know the importance of The Palmetto Bowl to the State of South Carolina. We will work to fill the opening on our schedule immediately."
Rashaad Jackson wasn't happy at all with the decision. He played for Clemson as a defensive tackle and graduated in 2008. However, he does understand the reasoning behind the decision.
"Probably my most memorable moment was playing in that, being a freshman and seeing the intensity of so many other senior classmen in such a thick rivalry game as it is," he said. "Little things like this--when you talk about cherishing the moments being given, and then something like this that's been taken away--definitely hurts in a sense of that Clemson pride. But for Carolina also."
Recent Clemson graduate Marissa Daley also is hurt by the loss of the rivalry game. She especially feels the pain for incoming students who won't get the same experiences she did her first year.
"We're a little bummed about that--that the freshman won't to have the same experiences I did when I was a freshman because I know I'll always remember those," she said. "I think it means a lot--it's like the most important game of the season, so it stinks to know we're not gonna have it this year."
South Carolina says they will still have fans at Williams-Brice Stadium, albeit at reduced capacity. Social distancing must be enforced for the the stadium to allow more than 250 people for home games.