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December 2, 2011

Tweets produce firestorm in USC-Clemson rivalry



The power of Twitter showed itself on Thursday, and brought forth a new chapter in the South Carolina-Clemson football rivalry.

The Gamecocks' football team, fresh from a 34-13 dismantling of archrival Clemson last week, saw a silly innocuous post from a social media outlet start a firestorm on Thursday afternoon. While the Tigers were preparing for their ACC Championship Game showdown with Virginia Tech on Saturday, Clemson reporter David Hood asked coach Dabo Swinney about a Tweet that was attributed to USC coach Steve Spurrier after the game - one that read, "We aren't LSU and we aren't Alabama. But we sure ain't Clemson."

Swinney responded in a full rant, declaring that he didn't care what was printed and pointing out USC's several deficiencies in the rivalry. Citing the Tigers' dominance in the overall series, Swinney pointed out that his duty was to defend his program and his university.

"My kid's grandkids won't live long enough to ever see this really become a rivalry," Swinney said, among other put-downs of USC's relevance in the series. "He's exactly right. They ain't Alabama. They ain't LSU, and they certainly aren't Clemson."

Swinney drew praise from his fans for the responses, but the problem was, the original Tweet was mis-attributed to Spurrier. It was put out by @GamecockFB, a Twitter feed helmed by USC football staffers, and attributed to Spurrier, but Spurrier never said it.

Spurrier has said many times this season that USC has played well, but isn't an Alabama or an LSU. The "sure ain't Clemson" line was added after the game on the Gamecocks' radio broadcast, and was uttered by USC play-by-play man Todd Ellis.

@GamecockFB hastily clarified the Tweet on Thursday, posting the audio broadcast and calling it an accidental mis-quoting. There was no immediate response from Swinney or Clemson, although USC's football (and baseball) players posted some amusing replies to Swinney calling out their coach and program.

"dabo wrong, south carolina run this state in football and baseball," Tweeted freshman Shon Carson.

Swinney's response came only an hour after another supposed Tweet, this one from USC quarterback Connor Shaw. Shaw, who only started his account this week, had a post degrading the Tigers while he was on his way home.

"Riding thru Clemson territory...or should I say Property of the University of South Carolina. 34-13 BEAST MODE #3Peat," the Tweet said.

A source close to the situation and Shaw contacted GamecockCentral.com and said that Shaw denied ever Tweeting the line, saying that his account was hacked and someone else posted it without his knowledge. Shaw's account also said earlier that he was driving through Laurens County on his way home; that route hooks into I-85 on the way to Flowery Branch, Ga., Shaw's hometown.

Shaw later posted, "Hacked earlier today People who received DM from my account ignore them. Idk what all tweets were posted but MY tweets are on my account now," and erased the earlier Tweet.

That re-opened another storyline from before the USC-Clemson game, when Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd supposedly Tweeted a line about USC's defensive line being average. Boyd's Twitter feed was erased after the game; GamecockCentral.com has been told that there are screenshots of the Tweet, but none have been provided.

Boyd claimed he never said it, but USC apparently believed he had. Melvin Ingram sacked Boyd twice during the game, and after one, he stood over Boyd and told him, "Y'all need to stop Tweeting."

Boyd did post a Tweet before the season ever began that compared the arrest of USC quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus to the well-documented troubles with alcohol from QB Stephen Garcia. With a paraphrasing of "like QB like coach," the Tweet was printed out within the hour and posted on the bulletin board in USC's locker room.

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