South Carolina Football: Rival Clemson sues ACC; Will Tigers join SEC or Big 10?

South Carolina football's biggest rival, the Clemson Tigers, have sued the ACC and wish to leave the conference.
South Carolina football rival Clemson is suing the ACC.
South Carolina football rival Clemson is suing the ACC. / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

South Carolina football fans might remember that they haven't always been in the SEC. The Gamecocks didn't join the league until 1992 after a long stretch of time as an Independent and in the Metro Conference in basketball. Before that, USC was in the ACC.

The ACC is one of the oldest conferences in major college football, but its time could be coming to an end.

It has been known for some time that many of the top teams in the league were unhappy with their current situation in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but beginning in December, Florida State declared war on the league with a lawsuit against the conference and its Grant of Rights. Essentially, FSU wants out, and legal action is how the Seminoles plan to get out.

On Tuesday, reports were confirmed that the Clemson Tigers were joining the Florida State Seminoles in pursuing legal action against the ACC. Clemson University opened up its own lawsuit against the ACC in Pickens County, according to a report from On3's Pete Nakos.

Whether or not Florida State and Clemson will win their respective litigation against their conference is not known, but one thing is clear: eventually, the two biggest football powers in one of the four biggest football conferences will be out of the conference as soon as they are able.

Whenever the Tigers and Seminoles find their way free, it will cause a ripple effect throughout the ACC. Without Clemson and Florida State, it seems highly unlikely that the ACC could survive as it currently exists. The other member institutions won't want to be in a toothless league, so they also will try to find their exits.

In conference realignment, exits equal entrances elsewhere. It will be interesting to follow where each school will try to position themselves. The Big 10 and SEC will be the top draw, but the Big 12 could be a good landing spot for a few schools, as well. Clemson and Florida State, along with North Carolina and Virginia, likely will be the biggest shakers in the realignment process.

South Carolina football fans' primary concern, though, is where the Clemson Tigers end up affiliated. Gamecock fans have long been split on the idea of the Tigers in the SEC. Joining the SEC would inflate Clemson's bank account, but it would also inflate their strength of schedule, hypothetically adding a few more losses to the ledger.

A move to the Big 10 would be similar for Clemson. Their pockets would bulge after joining the Big 10, but instead of being one of two top dogs (along with Florida State), Clemson will be underneath Ohio State and Michigan in the pecking order and still have to deal with programs like Penn State, Oregon, Southern Cal, and Wisconsin.

No matter what happens, the Gamecocks vs. Tigers rivalry should remain safe. Conference realignment gets complicated, but as long as both the South Carolina football program and the Clemson Tigers program play in conferences that allow them multiple out-of-conference games, a world without the Palmetto State's top-2 schools playing seems unlikely.

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