There are two states who’s names end in the word “Carolina.” They used to be in the same conference. The fanbases are very different. The states themselves are very different. All of the history and culture clashes should make for an interesting annual rivalry, right?
Well, you’d think so, but the teams just have two different standards when it comes to football and that has made the game largely uncompetitive...and also not played very often, just 13 times since the Cocks left the ACC in 1971.
So look, no South Carolina fan is going to count the Tar Heels amongst their most hated football teams. I get that. But just like when Venus plays Serena, we have the same last name and that creates some level of intrigue. Plus, it seems like this game isn’t leaving Charlotte any time soon, so it feels like we should act like it is a little more special when these teams get together.
I am proposing that we adopt a better name than simply the Belk College Kickoff. That isn’t even the name of the rivalry. It is the name of a destination event where Carolina is playing Blue Carolina. The name has gotta be better than something like “The Border War” or “The Battle For The Border” or anything like that. First, a border rivalry could be anywhere. Also, I don’t know that we want to attach the Gamecock brand to the term “border war” right now. Besides, what would we play for? A gold line?
With all of that in mind, I have three names and potential “trophies” in mind. Look them over and then hit the comments. Pick your favorite, or come up with one of your own. You should know that I am filling in for Heath Cline on 107.5 the Game in Columbia on Thursday and Friday of next week and will be using some of your answers on air. Hooray for cross-platform promotion!
THE CAROWINDS CUP
If you’re making the drive from Columbia to Charlotte for the game, nothing says “we’re almost there” quite like the site of Carowinds. It is the landmark on 77 that signifies that it is okay to turn on the GPS now.
So look, between the last two meetings with the Tar Heels and the one scheduled for 2023, it appears that Charlotte is the home of this rivalry for the foreseeable future. That’s fine. There aren’t enough hotels in Chapel Hill anyway plus parking there is hell. But if Charlotte is going to be our host, then the name of the game and its corresponding trophy should pay tribute to Charlotte.
This game will probably never be a battle between number 1 and number 2. That’s fine. It’s usually also not a battle of two teams that went winless in conference the year before either. Carowinds isn’t Disney World, but you know you’re going to come home with both arms in tact, so it ain’t Six Flags. Both the game and the amusement park are metaphors for one another...a maxiphor if you will.
The winner takes home a gold cup with a rollercoaster plunging into it along with Fast Lane Plus Season Passes to be used the following summer. Also, there is a postgame meet and greet with coaches at Carolina Harbor.
THE BATTLE FOR THE COOKOUT TRAY
Admittedly, in 2019 Cookout’s influence has spread across the South. There are locations as far west as Memphis and as far south as Mobile. If the company’s mission is to be able to feed the entire ACC and SEC footprints, it is well on its way. Any Carolinian (North or South) knows that the company got its start (both launch and initial expansion) with us. Atlantians may know the simple joys of strategizing their perfect tray now, but if you were born in either the Palmetto or Tar Heel State, there is a very good chance your blood type is watermelon milkshake.
Ah, the tray! It is the icon of the Carolinas’ most iconic fast food chain and so it will be our trophy. The winner not only gets a gold Cookout Tray to take home, but it also gets trays delivered to its football facility every cheat day the following season, paid for by the losing school’s boosters.
Now, I’ve never been the type of guy to tell another man how to build his tray, but victory to me looks like Will Muschamp sitting down to a Big Double Burger, a corndog, and chicken nuggets, and washing it all down with a large Cheerwine.
THE PEDRO GAME
If you’re journeying either up or down 95, particularly at night, you have seen this neon monstrosity right at the border of the two Carolinas. Hell, for miles before you even get there you see billboards using slogans and imagery that are at best “dated” advertising South of the Border’s mini golf course, BMX track (because of course), and the fact that this place sells “hats from around the world.”
Look, South of the Border is gross, dumb, overpriced, and filled with casual cartoon racism. No state should have to claim it, but unfortunately due to the placement of borders, South Carolina does.
Now admittedly this is the most ambitious of my suggestions. Why? Because for The Pedro Game (named for SOB’s “how does that still exist in 2019?” corporate icon) we’re going to have to get the federal government involved. We get South of the Border declared something of a neutral zone - an SC/NC DMZ if you will. It would be tax free, of course. That’s the only way this works.
Every time the Tar Heels and Gamecocks meet, the two teams are playing not to have to claim South of the Border. See, our trophy in this game is walking away empty handed. The state that is home to the loser of the game has to claim the entire South of the Border campus as its own until such time as the game is played again and ownership can be transferred.