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College football’s here

Posted: August 26, 2014 9:19 a.m.
Updated: August 27, 2014 6:00 a.m.

We comment on sports issues in this space on a regular basis, because athletics are so ingrained into the culture of Kershaw County and South Carolina. This week marks the kick-off of college football season in the Palmetto State, and several developments highlight the changing culture of the pigskin pastime here.

First, the state’s two major gridiron presences, South Carolina and Clemson, are both highly ranked in pre-season polls and poised for the possibility of outstanding seasons after both finishing in the nation’s top 10 last season. The Gamecocks have won 11 games for three consecutive seasons while playing in the Southeastern Conference, the country’s best, and have an eye towards moving up another notch. And Clemson has also had outstanding seasons, though the Tigers have been unable to handle the Gamecocks for several years. Additionally, both schools are hot on the recruiting trail; one follower tells us that both have recruiting classes in the top five in the nation.

But the week is indicative, too, of just how much college football has changed. Clemson will be playing Georgia on Saturday night on national television, taking on the Bulldogs on ESPN, the powerhouse of athletic broadcasting in the world. South Carolina’s Thursday night game against Texas A&M will be broadcast on the SEC Network, a new entity which shows just how far individual conferences are going to control their own television destinies and pump more money into the conference’s coffers; that cash, of course, filters down to the member schools. The ACC doesn’t yet have its own television network, but that will almost certainly happen.

It’s a different game now than it was a generation ago, and the state of South Carolina remains in the forefront of college football.

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