Don’t flip out, Palmetto State, but the rivalry that has been known to divide houses and was once the platform for a brawl in 2004, has no place at the picturesque Reynolds Plantation resort.
"Coach (Steve) Spurrier is giving me a couple of tips here," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney let slip of his talks with South Carolina’s Head Ball Coach.
Of course, it’s golf, not football, and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge offers coaches and their celebrity alumni partners a shot at a share of $520,000 for scholarships and their chosen charities.
"It’s fun. It’s good to compete and win something for your charity, for sure," said Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze, who along with Sean Tuohy, are playing for Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson, Miss.
Thirteen teams met at the resort, including Alabama (Nick Saban and Mark Ingram), Arizona (Rich Rodriguez and Kenny Lofton), Auburn (Gus Malzahn and Bo Jackson), Cincinnati (Tommy Tuberville and Kevin Huber), Clemson (Swinney and Steve Fuller), Georgia Tech (Paul Johnson and Jon Barry), Maryland (Randy Edsall and Scott McBrien), Ole Miss, Mississippi State (Dan Mullen and Fred McCrary), North Carolina (Larry Fedora and Roy Williams), NC State (Dave Doeren and Terry Harvey), Ohio State (Urban Meyer and Jeff Long) and South Carolina (Spurrier and Sterling Sharpe).
"We do a lot of events, but this is a great professional development opportunity, because you get a couple of days, just a captive audience with your peers," Swinney said. "But at the same time you’re benefitting as well. It’s a lot of fun. It’s competitive. Everybody is competing for money, so it’s good."
For the second straight year and the fourth time in the last five, Georgia Tech’s Johnson and Barry combination won, claiming $100,000 in charity and scholarship, outlasting Alabama on the fourth and final playoff hole Tuesday to win by one stroke.
"Well, I rode Jon pretty hard today, but in the end, we were able to grind it out," Johnson said. "I didn’t think we had much of a chance after the front nine, but Jon hit some really good shots and we found a way."
Johnson and Barry closed with an eagle and a birdie to join Alabama, NC State and South Carolina at 9-under after 18 holes before the Wolfpack were eliminated on the first playoff hole with a bogey and on the following hole, the Gamecocks were knocked out.
Both the Crimson Tide and Yellow Jackets pared the third hole before Saban and Ingram bowed out with a bogey.
"We battled them, but they played well. It was great to be in the final competition," Saban said. "You have to be a long hitter and Mark hit some great shots out there. It was a lot of fun."
Said Swinney — who teamed with Steve Fuller to come in 11th (1-under) — of Georgia Tech’s latest win: "We all play for second every year. We battle for second out there, but it’s fun."
During Monday’s skills competitions, Freeze won the long drive competition at 287 yards and $5,000 for his charity, a did each of the day’s winners. After finishing second the past two years, he hit 292 in 2014 and 293 in ’13.
"We had a little bit of a headwind going into us," Freeze said.
In the celebrity division, Auburn Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson beat three-time champ Jon Barry (Georgia Tech) with a drive of 331.5 yards to Barry’s 318.4.
The Tigers also won the closest to the pin event with Gus Malzahn hitting a 98-yard shot that was 7-foot-9 from the hole, while Maryland’s Scott McBrien was 8-2 away on the celebrity side.
Things can get heated and no doubt Saban and Meyer had lots to talk about, or not talk about. The two met in last year’s College Football Playoff semifinals and there have been rumors that Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller is considering transferring to Alabama.
But with the year-round nature of college football, Freeze says coaches truly take the opportunity to separate themselves from the game, and spend time with their families at the resort.
"My personality is not one that is high-stress all the time. It’s good that some of these other coaches can and be the same way and I really enjoy it," Freeze said. "My wife probably enjoys it more than I do, which is beneficial for me because we don’t get to spend time like that together. It’s pretty nice."