Dabo in danger of becoming Spurrier’s new Fulmer

col-tbuzz (2)I’ve lived in the Palmetto State a good chunk of my life, but I still don’t have a dog (or a tiger or a rooster, for that matter) in the Clemson-South Carolina fight.

I admire and respect the rivalry. I’ve been to about a dozen of them for football, albeit as a neutral media observer, and many more for baseball, basketball and the debate club (if you count drunken tailgaters exchanging verbal jabs a debate), yet I’ve never been swayed by either side.

As a lifelong SEC fan, I’ve paid a little more attention to the Gamecocks over the years. But as a Tennessee fan, I can identify with the Tigers’ Orange Nation. I know fence-sitting is frowned upon in this state, but I like them both. So please understand my observations are made without allegience:

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is in serious danger of becoming Steve Spurrier’s Phil Fulmer. You remember the pudgy ex-coach of the Vols who accomplished every feat in college football … except beating the Head Ball Coach with any regularity. The losing side of a lopsided rivalry is bad for job security.

Spurrier was the Roadrunner and Fulmer was Acme Corporation spokesman Wile E. Coyote. Except this Roadrunner talked … trash … fluently. You remember the whole “Can’t spell Citrus (Bowl) without U-T?” Although Spurrier spewed smack in everybody’s direction, Fulmer was his favorite punching bag.

Fulmer was 2-7 all-time against Spurrier, which statistically is slightly better than Swinney’s 1-4. If Dabo can win this time, a respectable 2-4 silences his critics, at least temporarily. But lose for a fifth straight season to the Gamecocks and the Fulmer comparisons go beyond the orange rainshirt.

And it’s not just the number of times Spurrier beat Fulmer as the way he did it. His Tennessee teams would come into The Swamp with a top-five ranking and SEC and national title hopes only to go home with their tails between their legs and another trip to New Year’s Day visit to Disney World.

That’s Dabo’s teams, sitting on the verge of a BCS bowl bid only to get de-pantsed by the Gamecocks in the Palmetto Bowl. Although Clemson still holds a decisive 65-41-4 edge in the historic series, the average score over the last four is Gamecocks 32, Tigers 14. That won’t cut it with the IPTAY crowd.

Not to suggest Swinney’s job is in danger. His 50-22 mark at Clemson and string of 10-win seasons will ensure he’s around for a pounding for years to come. Spurrier has already landed a few jabs, and Swinney has countered, but he will have to learn to take his beating unless he can balance out the scoreboard. Otherwise, “Dabo” will become a synonym for Fulmer.

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