Rivalry weekend is arguably one of the greatest points of the college football season and there are few rivalries in sports, let alone in college football, that are more heated than the matchup between Auburn and Alabama.
The Iron Bowl is one of the most heated rivalries in sports between two in-state schools that simply just don’t like each other, but one head coach outside of the game, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, seems to think that the matchup between Clemson and South Carolina is up to par.
Recently discussing this weekend’s matchup in the Palmetto Bowl, Swinney was adamant that Clemson vs. South Carolina is right up there with the Iron Bowl.
“I had a good understanding of what a rivalry was all about coming from Alabama. I lived in Alabama for 33 years, so that’s all I knew. Zero difference in this state. Zero. Year round. That’s all people talk about [Clemson vs. South Carolina]. It’s just different logos. It’s the same type of intensity, emotion.”
That’s a bold statement from Swinney. Clemson vs. South Carolina is a heated rivalry but is it on the level of Alabama vs. Auburn, or, for another college football reference, Michigan vs. Ohio State?
Perhaps not, but there is evidence to point to the game being up there on the intensity scale. Need proof of that, look no further than the 2004 in-game brawl between the Gamecocks and Tigers:
When discussing fights in professional sports that spill way out of bounds and cross the line — both figuratively and literally — this ranks right up there with the “Malice at the Palace”, which ironically happened the day before.
The football fight above, which got nasty and required police attention, started when South Carolina quarterback Syvelle Newton was knocked to the ground after a throw in the fourth quarter and a Clemson player laid on top of him so he couldn’t get up. The fight got so ugly, in fact, that a South Carolina player was kicked in the head while he was on the ground without a helmet by Yusef Kelly.
It was bad, and it was yet another chapter in the heated rivalry between Clemson and South Carolina.
So perhaps the Palmetto Bowl isn’t the Iron Bowl. But perhaps, Swinney does have a point.