As you could probably tell from reading the announcement of the selection linked to above, I heavily lobbied for the Country Gentlemen with the 12 Pack’s conference commissioner, BC Interruption. The Georgia Bulldogs have a long and storied rivalry with the Jungaleers featuring some epic contests and classic moments, so much so that someone ought to write a book about the series. (Oh, wait . . . someone has.)
The transcontinental 12 Pack continues to form a ring around the country, as Clemson adds yet another state that borders a national boundary, an ocean, or both. As an academic institution, Clemson University has improved steadily from its earliest days as a small provincial school best known for its military, agricultural, and textile education, rising to the point that Clemson, like the other six members of the newly-formed league, ranks in the top 65 nationally.
The Tigers have been on the upswing in men’s basketball, winning more than 20 games in each of the last five seasons and making it to four straight NCAA Tournaments since Clemson’s runner-up finish in its third consecutive NIT to wrap up the 2006-’07 campaign. In football, the Orange and Purple have won more ACC championships than any other program in the history of the league, capped off by their 1981 national championship.
Georgia and Clemson continue to meet twice annually on the diamond, and the Tiger baseball team has failed to make the NCAA Regional field just once since 1986. During that quarter-century of sustained success, the Country Gentlemen have claimed a dozen regional championships and four super-regional titles en route to seven College World Series appearances, including two trips to Omaha in the last six seasons. Also, for those who like that sort of thing, Clemson added men’s soccer as a varsity sport in 1924, before most Americans had ever heard of soccer, and the Jungaleers have two NCAA national titles in the sport.
The 12 Pack, which started in the Southwest with the Texas Longhorns and proceeded to pluck top-tier overall athletics programs with excellent academics from the West (UCLA Bruins), Pacific Northwest (Washington Huskies), and Midwest (Wisconsin Badgers), has circled back around to the Southeast to pick up a former ACC foil for the Duke Blue Devils and restore a traditional rivalry for the Red and Black by putting Georgia and Clemson in the same conference for the first time since 1932. (Actually, there is a technical sense in which the Bulldogs and the Tigers squared off in conference contests in the mid-1960s, but I’ll leave it to a knowledgeable commenter to explain how this is so. My money’s on NCT, but, if you get to it before he does, by all means, knock yourself out.)
We warmly welcome our blood rivals from Lake Hartwell into the 12 Pack. Are you ready for some football? It sure sounds like they are.