Both teams were bowl eligible
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Clemson and South Carolina will not accept bowl bids, punishment for players who brawled toward the end of Saturday's game.
SHREVEPORT, La. -- Fallout from last weekend's brawl in the South Carolina-Clemson game could leave the Independence Bowl
without a team from the Southeastern Conference.
South Carolina officials pulled their team from bowl consideration as a self-imposed punishment for the fight on Saturday. The Gamecocks' exit leaves just six SEC teams eligible for seven bowl berths.
Independence Bowl executive director Glen Krupica said the bowl is "in a situation of need" -- meaning officials desperately want an SEC team to boost interest in the Dec. 28 game.
If Arkansas defeats No. 14 LSU on Friday, that would make the Razorbacks (5-5) an Independence Bowl possibility. The Razorbacks beat Missouri 27-14 in last year's game.
"It's something we're going to roll with and obviously be focused on the LSU-Arkansas game this weekend and hope that the Razorbacks qualify," Krupica said. "It's going to be tough for a few of our committee members that are LSU fans, but I think they're going to take one for the team."
The I-Bowl and the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., share the sixth and seventh overall selections. If Arkansas doesn't beat LSU, Independence Bowl officials would just have to hope that a school picks them.
Without an SEC team, Krupica said the bowl would look at possibilities from the Big East, Conference USA, Mid-American, Sun Belt and Conference USA conferences.
I-Bowl officials are hoping for a big turnout and big TV rating on Dec. 28 because it is still in the market for a title sponsor. Krupica said the bowl planned to have potential sponsors at the game.
-- Associated Press
"This decision will have a significant financial impact on USC athletics. We will also lose a month of prebowl practice," McGee said. "It was a decision that had to be made."
Clemson athletics director Terry Don Phillips said in a statement the decision isn't fair to the majority of the players.
"But given the circumstances, I believe strongly that it is the right decision so that our university, our student-athletes, supporters and all people that love Clemson know without question what our values are," he said.
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive and Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John D. Swofford both said that their respective conferences support the decision by the universities.
"The decision by the University of South Carolina not go to a bowl game sends the important message to student-athletes, not only at South Carolina and in the Southeastern Conference, but thoughout the nation that intercollegiate ahtletics will not tolerate the kind of behavior we saw in the South Carolina-Clemson game last Saturday," Slive said.
The commissioners also added that their conferences continues to review game films to determine if additional penalties are merited.
The brawl, which broke out with about six minutes left in the game, started when Tigers defensive lineman Bobby Williamson took down South Carolina quarterback Syvelle Newton and appeared to linger too long on top of him.
South Carolina coach Lou Holtz, in his last game after a 33-year career, and Clemson coach Tommy Bowden tried to break up the brawl. Eventually, security and police officers were needed to restore order. Clemson won 29-7.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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