Earlier this month, the 2023 college football season kicked off with a decided ‘Murdaugh Murders’ twist. Our readers will recall ESPN’s popular College Gameday program landed in Charlotte, North Carolina ahead of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks season-opening loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels on September 2, 2023.
One of the signs featured prominently on that broadcast? A picture of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh‘s family held by a group of Tar Heel fans. Of course that picture (.jpg) featured South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler‘s body superimposed in the image where the late Maggie Murdaugh once appeared.
If you thought that was bad, fans of the University of Tennessee Volunteers – who play host to South Carolina this weekend in Knoxville – appear to have one-upped North Carolina with this banner.
Take a look …
(Click to view)
Gamecock fans haven’t been called out like this since former Vols’ coach Lane Kiffin told star wide receiver Alshon Jeffery he would wind up pumping gas if he went to South Carolina instead of coming to Tennessee.
With an international spotlight on him, Murdaugh was found guilty on March 2, 2023 of the savage slayings of his wife, Maggie, and their younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh on June 7, 2021 at Moselle – the family’s 1,700-acre hunting property straddling the Salkehatchie River on the border of Colleton and Hampton counties. The following day, S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman sentenced him to life behind bars.
What does the notorious murderer in South Carolina history have to do with Gamecock football?
Murdaugh was a walk-on at South Carolina – earning a roster spot as a backup free safety on the 1988 team. He was injured and did not earn a varsity letter, but three of his relatives did. Murdaugh’s great-grandfather, Randolph Murdaugh Sr., lettered from 1907-1909. His grandfather, Randolph Murdaugh Jr. was a letterman in 1935. Also, one of Murdaugh’s cousins – Alex G. Murdaugh – was a letterman at South Carolina in 1923.
Despite never lettering, in the aftermath of his trial some football fans derisively referred to Murdaugh as the “most famous South Carolina football player ever.”
While I’m not excusing their choice of trash talk, Tennessee fans have good reason to be frustrated with South Carolina. Head coach Shane Beamer‘s team scored a historic 63-38 blowout win over the fifth-ranked Volunteers in Columbia, S.C. last November – the most points scored against a Top Five squad by an unranked team ever.
South Carolina’s offense was so prolific, in fact, that the Williams-Brice pyrotechnical crew literally ran out of celebratory fireworks.
Tennessee owns an all-time 28-11-2 record in this series, which has been played annually since 1992. The Vols won twelve straight from 1993-2004, but the series suddenly became competitive when Steve Spurrier arrived in Columbia. Spurrier’s teams won four of five from the Vols between 2008-2012. Even Will Muschamp – who struggled mightily against SEC opponents – won three out of four against Tennessee during his tenure as head coach.
Kickoff from Neyland Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday evening with the SEC Network providing nationwide coverage. Tom Hart (play-by-play), Jordan Rodgers (color) and Cole Cubelic (sidelines) will call the action.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.
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