South Carolina leadership express disappointment after Clemson game canceled: 'That wasn't our choice, it was a league decision'
South Carolina really wanted an opportunity to end the program’s six-year losing streak to Clemson.
Despite the fact the in-state rivalry has been pretty one-sided for several seasons in a row, South Carolina voted against moving to a conference-only schedule for the 2020 season. Apparently, South Carolina was the only SEC school to vote against the move.
After the SEC officially made the decision to move to a 10-game, conference-only schedule, statements from Will Muschamp and South Carolina AD Ray Tanner both indicated disappointment in the league’s decision to drop non-conference matchups this fall.
“We are excited about the opportunity to play football this fall,” Muschamp said in a prepared statement. “I appreciate the leadership of Commissioner Sankey, the SEC office and the medical experts in making the best decision for our institutions.
“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.”
That tone matches Tanner’s statement, which started off positive enough:
“I appreciate the hard work and efforts of Commissioner Sankey and the SEC office in developing the procedures and protocols for our student-athletes to be able to participate in their sports this academic year,” Tanner’s statement read.
“Since college sports were shut down due to the pandemic, the league’s athletics directors have met often with the goal of making return to play happen for our student-athletes. I am confident in the guidance that we have received from the SEC Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force to provide an environment that is as safe as possible for our student-athletes, coaches, and staff.”
“A conference-only schedule gives us the best opportunity to have a complete season because of the flexibility it provides with control over conference games and the ability to make adjustments, when there is a possibility of disruption.”
That is, before addressing the loss of the Clemson matchup:
“I am disappointed that we will not play our in-state rival this year,” Tanner’s statement continued. “It is a great rivalry and one of the nation’s best. The pandemic has created many challenges and forced us to make adjustments. I am glad that we are planning to play football this fall. I look forward to renewing the rivalry in 2021.”
It will be interesting what Tanner has to say on Friday morning, as he’s scheduled to speak with the media following the SEC’s decision to shift to a conference-only schedule.