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South Carolina & The ACC - A Better Account

Our comments about South Carolina and the ACC brought e-mail from someone who was older and remembered the events more clearly than did we. So here you go. Thanks Stephen!

Re your "history" lesson on South Carolina leaving the conference.

I was stationed at Fort Jackson South Carolina in 1971 and have a good memory of the events. South Carolina's departure was not as you relate. Their reasoning was actually even more bizarre.It was a football decision. The ACC had a rule requiring a minimum SAT score for scholarship players. The NCAA had no such rule at the time and the ACC was the only conference to hold to this standard. South Carolina had previously scored a major coup by hiring a football coach (Paul Dietzel)who was spectacular. He had won a national championship at LSU featuring a unit called the "chinese bandits."

The expectations were enormous. South Carolina was anticipating national championships. Dietzel was given complete power over the athletic department and gave out something like 80 football scholarships in a single season. The results were miserable. Losing records. Dietzel found a scapegoat in the ACC minumum SAT score and for some reason this was almost universally accepted.

I do not recall McGuire ever wanting to get out of the ACC. It is possible but not particularly relevant to South Carolina's decision. South Carolina's football team continued to lose after withdrawal but their basketball remained competitive with the likes of Kevin Joyce, Alexander English and Mike Dunleavy.
In fact the program was strong enough to lure Bill Foster there from Duke when McGuire retired.

The confusion probably comes from the animosity toward McGuires final ACC teams. The John Roach clubs were likely the most hated clubs in ACC history. Occasionally basketball would break out among the fights. I will always remember them as a bunch of thugs. McGuire hated the winner take all ACC tournament and sounded off on this repeatedly. You may be aware in 1970 his team sailed thru the conference and lost in the tournament final when Roach as hurt. South Carolina stayed home.

At any rate the withdrawal was not orchestrated by McGuire but the memory of those final teams resonates in memory more than the stupidity of South Carolina's dreams of a football national championship.

Stephen Jurash
Carolina 68