Clemson vs Carolina – A History of Rivalry (and of Color!)
If there is ever a time in college sports to choose a side, it is most definitely this weekend. The most awaited game all season happens this Saturday between Clemson and USC, and the 2nd longest rivalry in college football continues.
While I am amused by watching my friends across the state (most of whom are for either one side of the other) make their preparations for one of the most awaited games of the season (ahem, days of the year in my opinion), the girl of style and tradition that I always am is fascinated by the history of the rivalry between these two schools – and of course the history of their colors!
The Carolina–Clemson rivalry, also referred to as the The Battle of the Palmetto State, is an American college rivalry between the South Carolina Gamecocks sports teams of the University of South Carolina and Clemson Tigers sports teams of Clemson University. USC and Clemson have been bitter rivals since the 1880s, and a heated rivalry continues to this day for a variety of reasons, including the historic tensions regarding their respective charters and the passions surrounding their athletic programs.
Unlike most major college rivalries, the Carolina–Clemson rivalry did not start innocently and because of competitive collegiate sports. The deep-seated bitterness began between the two schools long before Clemson received its charter and became a college. Tensions after the Civil War (when Clemson opened it doors) has led to these two schools holding the 2nd longest grudge in the history of College Football.
The Colors of College Football (with pictures based on interior design!)
South Carolina- Garnet, Black Before a 1895 game, Confederate veteran William Flinn presented a banner to the Gamecock football team. It was decorated garnet and black in honor of the animal. The colors weren’t well liked on that day and there was even an attempt to change the colors in 1900, but nevertheless the Cocks still wear garnet and black.
Clemson – Orange, Purple and the Tiger — The first “colors” of Clemson can be seen in an early diploma displayed on campus. But to everyone’s surprise, they’re red and blue! The orange and purple began when Walter Merritt Riggs formed Clemson’s first football team in 1896. Because Riggs had come from Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama (later renamed Auburn), he borrowed ideas from their team colors, orange and purple, and their mascot, the Tiger. Although the football team was known as the Tigers and often used “Eat ‘Em Up, Tigers” as a slogan, it wasn’t until 1954 that a Clemson student donned the mascot suit. In 1993, the Tiger was joined by the Tiger Cub.
Auburn- Navy Blue, Burnt Orange Auburn’s first football coach was Dr. George Petrie, whom attended Virginia in the 1880’s. Throughout the 1880’s the Virginia football team had worn gray and red uniforms, symbolizing blood on a fallen Confederate soldier. It soon became realized by the fans that the gray didn’t show up well on the often muddy gridirons. In 1888 there was a vote as to what the new colors would be. No one could come up with any ideas until Allen Potts, a star athlete, walked into the room. Potts was wearing a blue and orange scarf he purchased while in England. When a student snatched the scarf off him and proposed it to the crowd, everyone enthusiastically approved. When Petrie led Auburn’s first team four years later, he chose the same colors in respect to his alma mater.
Georgia- Red, Black The Bulldogs original colors were gold, crimson, and black. But when Georgia Tech whipped the Dogs 28-6 in 1893, UGA’s coach Dr. Herty removed gold from the school colors. He claimed gold was too close to yellow, which represented cowardice. The crimson also developed into Georgia red.
Florida- Orange, Blue No one is sure how Florida got there colors of blue and orange, but the popular belief is that they picked them up from the two schools abolished in the Buckman Act of 1905. University of Florida at Lake City(blue and gold) and East Florida Seminary(orange and black) were the schools eliminated. The Gators sported various combinations in there early years but blue and orange won out.
LSU- Purple, Gold When the Bayou Bengals ventured south to play Tulane for their very first football game in 1893 they were looking for a boost. So they decided to decorate the locker rooms with colored ribbons. Mardi Gras was quickly approaching New Orleans, so green , purple, and gold were in abundance. The first store the Tigers visited had not yet received their shipment of green ribbons, so the players bought out all the purple and gold ones. The rest is history.
Alabama- Crimson, White Alabama used to be a military school in the 1880’s. The Company E Cadets were to participate in a marching competition in New Orleans in 1885. The sponsor was a southern belle named Mary Fearn. Fearn asked the Cadets what their colors were so she would know what to wear. The Cadets claimed they didn’t have an official color, they just wore black caps and gray coats. Fearn claimed black was too funeral like and gray was just boring, so she wore crimson to the event. It caught on and the football team sported crimson stocking when they played their first game in 1892.
Tennessee- Orange, White In 1891 Tennessee guard Charles Moore suggested the team colors be light orange and white, the color of the daisies that blossomed on The Hill. The students were satisfied with the color for a while, but chose to drop it a year later. After a day long debate, no one could agree on a new color so they stuck to the originals. The orange and white uniforms didn’t appear on the team uniforms for another 30 years though.
Vanderbilt- Black, Gold There are two versions of how Vanderbilt got it’s unique color scheme. One story is that Judge W. L. Granbery of Princeton gave the Dores the colors of orange and black, with the orange eventually becoming gold. Another is that Commodore Vanderbilt created the colors: Black for his control of coal and gold for his wealth. In the 1930’s, the remaining players from Vandy’s first squad could not recall why they chose black and gold.
Ole Miss- Red, Blue You would be shocked that a school that waves Confederate flags got their colors from Yankee country. In the 1890’s the Rebels couldn’t decide which colors they would wear for the upcoming season. It was a manager that suggested Harvard Red and Yale Blue. At the time, Harvard and Yale were two of the strongest powerhouses in college football and were also very respected academically.