Will college football impact the primary votes of South Carolinians?
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) — If there's one thing that rivals presidential politics in South Carolina in the fall, it's college football. In fact, between the two, college football probably triumphs.
So what happens when a presidential candidate's college football allegiances conflict with those of football-crazy voters in early primary states?
It's a question that former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson was faced with on his recent trip to Florida, which currently has its primary scheduled for January 29th.
According to The Politico, when Thompson was asked by a football fan whether he supports the Florida Gators or the Tennessee Volunteers, who played each other last weekend, Thompson said: "I'm too old to change now, I've been a Vol all my life ... But, I'll tell you what, we can both do our best to beat the ole ballcoach."
The "ballcoach," of course, is Steve Spurrier, the former Florida head coach that followers of Southeastern Conference football love to hate.
But now, Spurrier happens to be the head football coach at the University of South Carolina, whose football team is riding high at 3-0, ranked number 12 in the nation. South Carolina is also the primary state that has backed the eventual GOP nominee every year since Republicans started holding a primary here in 1980.
So if Thompson wants South Carolina to lose ... what are Gamecock football fans to think?
According to one football fan, Bryce Murch of Columbia, "you just don't say that."
"Saying that in South Carolina is bad news," he said.
Then again, most South Carolina fans CNN spoke to said that while the comment bothered them, it likely won't affect their vote.
For the record, Thompson's communications director Todd Harris told CNN that Thompson's top two teams are Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
— CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby