September 17th, 2007
03:50 PM ET
12 years ago

Does Fred Thompson dislike South Carolina (football)?

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

Filed under: Florida • Fred Thompson • South Carolina
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Jeff, Houston, Texas

    Say hallelujah borthers! Finally, a topic the NASCAR set can understand! Great God almighty!

    September 17, 2007 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  2. Joe, Florida

    Has anyone noticed how Thompson was really nothing more than air. He was getting a lot of coverage before he announced. Now that he's in and that people have seen how poor his answers are without a script, he's become another one of the pack. GOP's Savior, Reagan number 2, pleaseee! you're full of it Fred and we all know it.

    September 18, 2007 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  3. Erick Newport News, VA

    If Thompson is running for president,I can't tell. He and some of his fellow republicans refuse to attend the debate at Morgan State University. You would think if he is running he would want the people to know where he stand on the issues. Maybe, he just isn't concern about African Americans or people of color. We'll just have to show him at the polls.

    September 18, 2007 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  4. Cary- Lowell, IN

    If the worst thing you can say about someone is that their football allegiance might be a bone of contention w/ some voters, then that person has an excellent record and character that can't be disputed.

    September 18, 2007 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  5. Billy Hyatt Gaffney S.C.

    I'm a diehard South Carolina fan, and I don't see anything wrong with what he said. That's what SEC football is all about, loving to hate your rivalries. and anyone that would let someones favorite football team decide whether or not you will vote for that person is just plane silly. please, get a life people.

    September 21, 2007 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  6. Chuck, NC

    Check out the hit piece on Fred Thompson, including a few things the media never talks about. To read it go to

    September 25, 2007 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  7. Linda

    The Politico is really dogging Fred.. Heck all the lib media is dogging him and Romney. Reason: The libs know that Shuckabee and McLame will lose to Obama or Hillary or Edwards or any of the other democrats they have running. Shuckabee and McLame are democrats or as we like to call them RINOs. Republican In Name Only. My question to the republican/conservative voters is: Are you going to let the Media and democrats tell you who you're going to vote for? Stop being sheeple and get the info you need on each candidate. What you're hearing from the Media is NOT correct for the Conservatives.. They're playing you.

    January 12, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |