It’s Furman-Wofford week!
I have no right to ask this, but I have to ask it anyway. Furman and Coach Bruce Fowler: Please, please beat Wofford on Saturday! I need this win in the worst way.
Yes, that is correct. I need this win because I back my team, and I back them enough to put it on the line against the fourth-ranked team in the nation.
Oh, I know, it doesn’t have quite the same ring as Clemson-Carolina or Georgia-Florida. And the attendance in the stands might not be much bigger than Byrnes-Gaffney. That’s not to mention that these two schools have a little more of a “wine and cheese” fan base, giving more of a “Bravo!” than a “Yee-haw!”
But make no mistake, this game is big. It’s big for both teams for different reasons.
In many ways, the two schools are mirror images of each other, separated by little more than the Tyger River and the fact that one was started by Baptists, the other by Methodists.
Their academic standards far exceed the importance of athletics, and they expect their players to do well on the field and in the classroom. This is quite a contrast to their conference rivals in south Georgia and western North Carolina.
They played the first-ever football game in South Carolina in 1889, with Wofford taking a 5-1 victory under rules devised prior to the game. Since that December day, Furman has dominated the series, 45-27-7. Since the late 1970s, the Paladins have been considered the superior program.
The last four meetings have been blowouts, with three of them going to Wofford. The Terriers have overtaken Furman to become the liberal arts powerhouse in FCS football. But Paladin fans still refer to Wofford as their “little brothers” from Spartanburg, and Terrier fans still despise it.
For Wofford, this game is one more chance to stick it to big brother again, to establish themselves as the premier FCS program in the state. Larger than that, Wofford is ranked fourth in the nation and looking to get the one thing that Furman can hold over their heads: A National Championship.
Furman, on the other hand, is looking to rebuild under new head coach Bruce Fowler. Nothing would be better than for Fowler to re-establish Furman’s status with a win over their highly ranked little brothers. It would not vault Furman back to national or Southern Conference prominence, but it would be a huge step in the right direction.
But these are pale in comparison to the real stakes here. Forget all that other stuff, because this game is vitally important to my personal well-being.
Yours truly, host of The Home-Field Advantage on espnspartanburg.com, has placed a bet with Mark Hauser, voice of the Wofford Terriers and host of ESPN Spartanburg’s Open Mic Daily. The bet is simple: If Furman wins, I get to host Open Mic Daily for a day from 3-6 pm.
The downside? If Wofford wins, I have to wear a Furman shirt to Wild Wing Café in Spartanburg next Monday. I will then serve Coach Mike Ayers and Mr. Hauser during the Inside Wofford Football broadcast at 6:30 pm.
So yes, Furman, this one is all about me! I’m still trying to get over the rash that I got last year from wearing a Wofford shirt to lunch. You kind of owe me one from last season, and there is no better way for you to pay me back than by pulling a huge upset this year.
My request notwithstanding, I am preparing for the worst. You know, if you start off disappointed, everything has to be a pleasant surprise. I will be venturing out to the Furman bookstore to pick up a shirt to wear Monday night.
My hope is that they have plenty of “FU” shirts available. That seems an especially appropriate choice for a Wofford gathering.
Editor’s note: The views reflected here are not necessarily those of ESPN Spartanburg. And the writer “says” them with his Tongue firmly implanted in his Cheek…so take a joke everyone!