Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 7/4/12

As the days of summer, hot summer at that, go slowly by and we celebrate Fourth of July with family and friends, the thought of giving my loyal readers a treat of a post as they enjoy many treats on their BBQ has made me think of this question… what would be a good rivalry for the North Carolina Football program in years to come? The one school that instantaneously came to mind and would be as finger licking good as any chicken you might be having today: South Carolina. There is good reasons for this game to be one heck of a rivalry, both from the stand point of the states, the schools, the programs and, as of right now, the coach for the Gamecocks.

The rivalry between two states for bragging rights is said to be dated back to the Revolutionary War, that alone would make a year in, year out, match up of the two state schools something everyone would be up to attending. How many family do you know that have members in both states? It might not become as big as UNC/Duke, but it might become just as heated. I could see this becoming a game people attend not even for the game itself, but just to say “I was there when we beat them”. Like many of the special wins by UNC basketball, where somehow there were 50,000 in attendance, this could be one of those rivalries that in the close games well over 300K were packed into the stadium that day!

As far as North Carolina is concerned they are already part of the oldest rivalry in the South, the one against Virginia, which had its first meeting in 1892 and has had the two ACC teams playing one another on a yearly basis since 1919, with UNC being in the lead in the series 57-54 and having four ties. On the other hand South Carolina has its own long standing rivalry, also with an ACC team, Clemson, as the two programs have gone at it for decades and decades, with Clemson leading the series 65-39 and this series as well has four draws in it. In time, I am sure that the North Carolina/South Carolina game would acquire just as much hype as these two rivalries above mentioned that have been going on for close to a century each. And I am pretty certain it would not take as long as 100 year to make this rivalry relevant.

Secondly this would be something that probably would inspire many, on both sides of the conferences (or the proverbial fence shall we say), to be into, as South Carolina was the only program ever to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference to go elsewhere. Being able to win this game would make the ACC feel good, while if the ***** won it, the SEC would love to rub it in the faces of the other conference that the fact that South Carolina left was because of the bias the conference had for Tabacco Road. Or so this is what as been one of the statements about S. Carolina leaving the ACC. So, in fact, while no true die hard fan will root for another team, especially in their own conference, you have to say that heating up the ACC/SEC discussion with a yearly game like this would definitely be something a lot of people that follow college football would enjoy seeing.

Finally, last but definitely not least, the fact that one of the most hated head coaches in college football for the UNC fans would be traveling to Kenan Stadium once every two years would be just enough to fill up the best looking place to play football in my mind ten, if not more, times over. For those of you not old enough to remember that day, here is the story told by the Spurrier himself about why he ran up the score on the Heels…

Today, Spurrier admits what possessed him to embarrass another coach and team in front of their fans. He points to 1980, when Spurrier was a Duke assistant and the Blue Devils lost 44-21 to UNC in Chapel Hill.

Late in that game, UNC coach Dick Crum inserted starter Kelvin Bryant to ensure that the running back would join teammate Amos Lawrence as a 1,000-yard rusher for the season. On one drive, Bryant carried the ball on five consecutive plays, and as Spurrier tells it, the Kenan Stadium public-address announcer kept fans abreast of his yardage total.

“I took my losing butt back to Durham, and we didn’t cry about it,” Spurrier said. “I figured maybe someday I’ll be on that sideline and can tack on some yards against those guys.”

That day came nine years later. Duke tailback Randy Cuthbert ran for 116 yards, becoming only the second Duke running back to top 1,000 yards in a season. Receiver Clarkston Hines caught eight passes for 162 yards to become the first ACC player to have three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

What Spurrier really wanted that day was for Duke to gain 637 yards. That would leave the Blue Devils with an astounding average of 500 yards per game for 11 games.

An 11-yard run by tailback Mike Varona on the final play left Duke with a whopping 37 first downs and 656 yards.

Spurrier’s play-calling earlier in the fourth quarter is what still rankles UNC supporters today. With a 41-0 lead, Spurrier emptied his toolbox of gadget plays. A double reverse netted 8 yards for wide receiver Keith Ewell. A flea-flicker pass from tailback Roger Boone to Jones gained 23 yards. Then a flanker pass by Darryl Clements fell incomplete.

“They’d been in the playbook, and we finally got a chance to use them,” Spurrier said after the game. “The kids like to run them. We just kept playing. I don’t think it upset the Tar Heels.”

Whether you believe that excuse or not (and who is he kidding that it did not upset the Tar Heels), the fact is that after the game the whole Duke team sat underneath the scoreboard and took a picture with the score still lit up. Spurrier would then leave the following season to go into the SEC to coach at Florida for a dozen years before taking an hiatus from college and coaching in the NFL and then ending up with South Carolina. Which, that too infuriated some fans since the Tar Heels never got a chance to return the favor to Duke under the Spurrier watch. All through out, for what would be a quarter of a century if the two programs were able to make this happen, no one that is a fan old enough to remember has let go of the sour taste feeling Spurrier left in their mouths. It might have mellowed for some, maybe almost forgotten for others, but if you remind them of that game, of that day, of that action by the Duke head coach they will all once again get that disgusted look on their face and sour taste in their mouth.

And so there you have it, as you enjoy the day, your family and friend, give a small thought about what kind of rivalry this could truly be if North Carolina and South Carolina decided to meet up each and every season and finally put an end to the many words of war about rivalry and instead settle it on the battle field, which in this case would be the gridiron! You could also be guaranteed that the fan bases would be battling each year in the parking lot for who has the best BBQ, and that too would just be a win win for all. And lastly, as you enjoy the day, thank you for reading my posts on isportsweb and maybe this holiday find you all in good spirits and health!

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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