Hate is such a strong word.

But when you’re talking about football in the South, it’s a word thrown around the stadium more than the pigskin itself on any given Saturday.

In case you hadn’t heard, lots of SEC fans hate Clemson.

Now that the Tigers are now considered the No. 1 team in the country by both the Associated Press Poll and the College Football Playoff committee, frustrations for many of those fans have intensified.

So while the Tigers are basking in the glory of the national spotlight and plotting what could be a trip to play for their first national championship since 1981, let’s review the reasons why most SEC fans want nothing to do with our purple- and orange-clad neighbors:

Note to all of our Clemson friends: Try not to get too worked up while reading through this. After all, “They hate us ’cause they ain’t us,” right?

1. “Death Valley” is in Baton Rogue.

SEC fans believe there is one true “Death Valley” in college football, and it is not located in Clemson, S.C.

While Clemson technically may have claimed the moniker first many decades ago, LSU offers a bigger, louder and more intimidating “Death Valley” experience in Baton Rogue.

We’ll allow Clemson fans to continue calling Memorial Stadium this for the sake of the large rock from the actual Death Valley in California that they hold so near and dear, but that doesn’t mean we have to take it seriously. Right Steve Spurrier?

2. Clemson’s conference schedule is weak sauce.

Clemson just beat Florida State at home last Saturday, marking the first and last time the Tigers will play a ranked opponent during their ACC regular-season schedule.

Let that sink in for a moment as you think about the gauntlet teams in the SEC West have faced during the past two seasons. And that’s just half of the conference.

How many SEC teams would be 9-0 with Clemson’s schedule? That’s a question most SEC fans are likely to answer with “more than one.” Heck, they might even answer “More like six or seven.”

3. Clemson steps on toes in recruiting.

Football recruiting in the South is a brutal game within the game, and Clemson plays the role of villain very well in this part of the country.

Not only do the Tigers give South Carolina a run for its money with every in-state prospect, but the Tigers also meddle in the business of the surrounding SEC states, plucking out quality players that may have otherwise chosen to go to an SEC school.

Frustration from the recruiting trail breeds dislike for Clemson, which is understandable given that the Tigers have ranked no lower than No. 17 in the national recruiting rankings during the past five seasons, according to 247sports.

4. “They cheat.”

Many SEC fans are of the “if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’ ” mindset, but they still find it perfectly acceptable to point out that Clemson has been caught doing things it shouldn’t.

Clemson’s 1981 national championship had barely been claimed before the Tigers were slapped with two years of probation for recruiting violations. And that’s just one example of Clemson’s transgressions over the years. Full disclosure: The man responsible for those ’80s Clemson violations – Charley Pell – moved on from Clemson to Florida, and got caught doing the same kind of cheating there.

5. SEC fans stick together.

Much like the idea that you can pick on your brother and it is fine, but if someone else picks on your brother it’s ground for a fight, SEC fans have each other’s back when it comes to nonconference affairs.

If South Carolina has a problem with Clemson, so do the fans of the 13 other schools when it comes to that end-of-season rivalry.

It is much the same as backing the Gators when it comes to Florida State, the Bulldogs when it comes to Georgia Tech or the Wildcats when it comes to Louisville.

Simply put, losing to Clemson makes the rest of the league look bad. So just don’t do it, Gamecocks.