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South Carolina rocked by ‘Sir Big Spur’ controversy

Now THIS is the kind of offseason content I live for.

Syndication: The Greenville News JESSICA GALLAGHER/ Staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

The self-proclaimed most involved live mascot in sports can now say he’s involved in drama too, as South Carolina’s “Sir Big Spur” rooster is dealing with a bit of an identity crisis before the football season starts.

As the Charleston Post and Courier reported earlier, there’s a kerfluffle between the previous and current stewards of the live mascot program, who have strong differences in opinion of how the bird should be groomed — and, therefore, how he should be named:

“If they’re truly going to fight, they take off the combs because that’s one more part that can bleed,” [original owner Ron] Albertelli said. “The comb always stands out in a picture of a barnyard rooster, but Sir Big Spur is a Fighting Gamecock.”

The birds that the [new owners] Clarks used after Sir Big Spur VI all had combs. [Mary] Snelling and Albertelli asked why.

“We raised these gamecocks to be mascots. The mascot needs to be, I feel, branded with the university,” Van said. “We also want the birds to be as healthy as possible. When the combs are off, they can’t handle heat as well. These birds are raised to be mascots, and at many games, the heat is nearly unbearable. We want to keep the mascot healthy. That’s our job now.”

Another wrinkle: Albertelli owns the “Big Spur” mark, and a five-year agreement he had with USC ended on Aug. 1, giving him sole rights once again. One question that immediately came to mind (besides “Why is this even happening?”): How did the school never once, during all these years, pursue ownership of the “Sir Big Spur” moniker? I suppose marketing live mascots is fairly rare, and that’s therefore why no one bothered, but trust that this is now on the school’s radar. According to the P&C, South Carolina plans to retain rights to the bird’s name now and into perpetuity:

“The intent is to protect the new name,” confirmed Eric Nichols, USC’s chief marketing officer. “We can’t use Big Spur for legal reasons.”

The school plans to reveal his new name before the season opener, and it won’t come down to a fan vote — so unfortunately, The State newspaper’s viral straw poll featuring the likes of “Cluck Norris” and “Cock Commander” won’t factor into the decision.

In any case, regardless of whether you care about the rooster’s name — and if you don’t, I hope you at least appreciate how objectively hilarious and Pure College Football this is — this whole fracas is exactly the kind of offseason “scandal” I appreciate. We’ve had to deal with far, far worse over the years, so even if the larger college football internet is having some fun at South Carolina’s expense, I’m happy to have some fun with it too.

What name(s) are y’all hoping for?