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Beginner’s guide to Syracuse and Clemson’s stupid internet rivalry

Wondering why there’s a mutual dislike for one another online? Here’s the steps to how we arrived here.

Clemson v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Many of us have been here for quite some time, but there are plenty of newer members to the community, and greater Syracuse Orange fandom, as well. Those people would probably be confused when we start saying unkind things about the Clemson Tigers this week, so I wanted to provide this handy guide to our mutual dislike.

There’s a caveat here that things have cooled down considerably without Scott Shafer on the sidelines. But there’s still some back-and-forth, and we’d still dedicate an entire week of content to Clemson schadenfreude if we end up beating a highly-ranked Tigers squad one day. It’s fine.

Syracuse v Clemson Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images

Onto where things started...

My second article on this very site threw some mild shade at Clemson, and it did annoy some Tigers fans. However, things wouldn’t really get set off until the week leading up to our first intra-conference football game in 2013.

In the early parts of that week, Jerome Smith tweeted out that he’d prefer Syracuse’s No. 10 (Terrel Hunt) over Clemson’s (then, Tajh Boyd). This is a perfectly understandable thing to feel, since you’re not going to tweet that you prefer your opponent’s quarterback. Plus, Hunt was off to a pretty impressive start to his Orange career.

Tigers fans — as we’d come to find out — got SUPER offended by this and spent the week getting angry in all corners of the web. Former Clemson running back CJ Spiller (then on the Buffalo Bills) called us scrubs. That was less “DISRESPECKful” than what Smith said, somehow. Neither of these things mattered.

When we finally got to the game, Syracuse lost by a lot. But Scott Shafer unloaded the immortal “FUCK YOU DABO!” reaction further throwing gas on the DISRESPECK fire.


This game birthed the first-ever Syracuse Offensive Play-Calling Breakdown piece here on the site. So if you want to blame anyone for those articles, it’s Clemson’s fault.

Also, as Sean mentioned afterward, we were going to enjoy hating Clemson in the years to come.

We wouldn’t even have to wait years because of the gift that was “James Slater from South Carolina,” who became a fixture in Bud Poliquin mailbags and my inbox from early 2013 through the following season. The pseudo tough guy wasn’t EVERY Clemson fan, of course. But it was fun to act like he was, and us bringing him up only seemed to get Tiger fans to act like him anyway.

James, if you’re out there, Bud’s mailbag is gone and I’m still here. I would love a letter prior Friday’s game.

Whether James participated or not, #Softnosedgate happened that offseason, and then Clemson fans booed our injured players down in (the other) Death Valley in the fall of 2014. Now it was our turn to feel some #DISRESPECK. We’ve since taken up this practice as well each week, as every opponent is suddenly besieged with cramping the second we gain momentum.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

In 2015, we came within 10 of Clemson fr the second straight season. More Tigers fans showed up in the comments to get snippy and talk “class” and other nonsensical platitudes. We ended up making fun of their rock, and turning their revered “Shakin’ the Southland” phrase into a euphemism instead.

Last year, without Shafer, things had cooled. But SU got smoked and Clemson ended Eric Dungey’s season, which got both sides a bit more heated. Tigers fans spent a lot of time gloating. We spent a lot of time getting annoyed. Clemson tried that whole #DISRESPECK thing some more and we mocked them (rightfully) for it. They continue the “no one believes in us” act to this day, despite winning the most recent national title.

Obligatory, non-football mention:

So why do Syracuse and Clemson REALLY hate each other?

I’ve always gathered it was a mix of our distinct differences (North/South, basketball-focused/football-focused, #jokesandgarbage/#NOTjokesandgarbage) and our startling similarities. Beyond the obvious orange connection, a glance at how Clemson fans describe themselves, the program and outside opinions certainly has a familiar ring to it.

We literally spent an entire season yelling at reporters who didn’t vote for Syracuse basketball at No. 1 -- even when we were No. 1. The most popular post in the history of this site rakes the entire country over the coals for not being excited enough about our surprise Sweet 16 run.

You catch my drift at this point. We’re not really so different as fan bases, even if the mindset applies to different sports. That realization naturally causes us to butt heads.

So whether you REALLY hate Clemson, sorta dislike them or couldn’t care less about the Tigers, we’ll be facing them on Friday in a game that SU is very unlikely to win. That doesn’t mean they can’t, mind you. And I look forward to the many threads about this entire article and that specific comment on Clemson message boards all over the web.