A History Lesson: Should South Carolina Stay Put Or Jump To The ACC?

Lee W.Correspondent IMay 1, 2010

Conference expansion is coming for the third time since the 1990's, and insiders and fans expect it to be the biggest move in history for the Bowl Championship Subdivision of College Football.

Nobody knows when it is coming, but Big 10 Bosses have hired a financial firm that will help determine the deciding factors that could choose the best fit universities to expand the Big 10 to twelve teams or beyond.

If enough dominoes fall, then AD Eric Hyman must choose the fate of the city favorite college of Columbia, South Carolina. What will he decide? To make up my mind, let’s look at some history.

As early as 1922, the Gamecocks joined the Southern Conference , which formed from the roots of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association . A meeting was held on February 25, 1921 in Atlanta, Georgia. 14 member schools split from the SIAA in 1921, while USC joined the conference in 1922.

23 member schools made up the conference from 1922-1953. 13 members split from the SOCON in 1933, forming the SEC. In 1953, South Carolina Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, and Wake Forest formed the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Gamecocks would not accomplish much in the ACC from a football standpoint, only winning two ACC Championships. The 1969 Carolina squad went 7-4 and was undefeated in conference play. The 1971 ACC title was taken away due to an ineligible player. The Gamecocks almost were invited to the Orange Bowl in 1956, but the bid did not come. Overall, the Gamecocks were mediocre at best.

In basketball, South Carolina was another story. Coach Frank McGuire led the Gamecock Ballers to an undefeated 1970 ACC season, along with an ACC Tournament Championship in 71'. Carolina qualified for three straight Sweet 16 appearances from 71-73.'

Hostility of road crowds on "Tobacco Road" in North Carolina and unfair economic treatment prompted South Carolina to become an Independent after 1971.

While operating as an independent in earlier years, the Gamecocks would see Jim Carlen and Joe Morrison reach new heights.

The Gamecocks reached six bowl games and saw six teams with eight wins or more. South Carolina finished 1984 10-2 and ranked 11th in the nation. Joe's teams were called "Fire Ants and Black Magic" due to the swarming defense wearing black jerseys

Coach Morrison died in 1989 and so did the Gamecocks.

After many tough seasons as an independent, the Gamecocks joined the SEC in 1991. Although it is a challenging conference, South Carolina has fielded a consistent football program under Brad Scott, Lou Holtz, and Steve Spurrier.




·         The South Carolina Gamecocks are from the roots of the ACC, with natural rivals such as arch-rival Clemson and former nemesis North Carolina.

·          The Gamecocks would have a better shot at playing in the conference championship game in a weaker conference.

·          The ACC Championship Game is in Charlotte, which is in close proximity to Columbia.


·         Basketball would be a tough shot in the ACC. Making the NCAA Tournament would be harder with teams such as North Carolina and Duke crowding the standings.

·         The Gamecocks could gradually become worse- they did not do much in the ACC in those days.

·         Football is not as seriously taken in the ACC. South Carolina would be looked down upon by former SEC rivals.

·         South Carolina could lose money and recruits by re-joining the ACC to fellow SEC rivals.

·         It is a step down- Clemson dreams of joining the SEC one day.


·         South Carolina is pulling in millions of dollars in the SEC.

·         It's South Carolina's identity- The Gamecocks have been playing in the SEC for 18 years

·         The Gamecocks' natural rivals are Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee- not North Carolina or Duke

·         South Carolina runs circles around Clemson in revenue- by millions

·         Steve Spurrier is an SEC man. He wants an SEC Championship with the Gamecocks before he retires.

·         The recruits came to be winners in the SEC

·         Better bowl games

·         More fanfare in the SEC

·         Tougher schedules bring more BCS Bids


·         It would be interesting to play in the same conference as Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Miami, or North Carolina-all good football teams


Prediction: The Gamecocks will stay in the SEC










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