The Daily Gamecock at South Carolina Rocks: Now *That* is a Rivalry Issue

Yesterday’s issue of The Daily Gamecock at the University of South Carolina spiritedly breaks down the school’s storied football rivalry with nearby Clemson University. The special edition of the DG mixes an uber amount of historical factoids with a number of fun contemporary story arcs ahead of this Saturday’s match-up in Columbia.

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Among the focuses of the features in the 16-page issue: a campus tradition that involves burning an effigy of the Clemson Tiger mascot; the “conflicting loyalties” of USC students and staff who also sport Clemson ties; the massive quantities of food prepared and distributed on big game days like the one soon to play out; the student twirlers who will perform with flaming batons at halftime (the story’s Hunger Games-inspired headline, “Catching Fire“); and the inside scoop on Clemson football, via a Q&A with the Clemson student newspaper sports editor (under the header “Behind Enemy Lines“).

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5A separate report on the university mascot reveals this fascinating fact: the identities of the students who suit up as “Cocky” are not publicly revealed until commencement ceremonies each May. I asked a friend and USC grad what is up with all the secrecy. Her response: “Maybe Cocky knows things other people aren’t supposed to know.”

As the Gamecock rivalry issue notes about one of the current Cocky performers (whom it keeps anonymous): “This student, scouted to suit up as USC’s favorite bird because of his extreme school spirit at sporting events, has only had one roommate discover his secret in all four years in the Cocky program. Some of the cheerleaders with whom Cocky performs still don’t know whom the people inside the suit are. … The student has gone to various lengths to conceal his secret identity. He tells most friends that he’s a waterboy. Once, he told a friend he worked at bachelorette parties.”

While Cocky is treated with kid gloves, a staff editorial in the issue disses rival Clemson with a mix of laugh-out-loud snarky venom and faux haughtiness. As the lede portion shares:

“Five score and 17 years ago, Old MacDonald thrust his lofty pitchfork into a ravaged post-bellum farm field, striking an arbitrary rock. In that moment of serendipity, he swore to establish a renowned agricultural school dedicated to the sole purpose of triumphantly snatching the Hardee’s Trophy from the University of South Carolina each and every year, in perpetuity. Today, that same rock of no apparent value is enshrined at Clemson University’s stadium as motivation for the farmer’s union football team, although neither the rock nor the farmer’s wishes have done much good considering USC’s recent win streak. Alas, despite the drought in this decade’s competition, the rivalry still roars on as one of college football’s finest.”

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