Friday, December 30, 2011

Long-term success over short-term gimmicks. Every time!

I admit it.  Steve Spurrier has been right the whole time he’s been at Carolina.  We are building a program, brick by brick, the right way and for the long haul.  When you do that, and when you are in a real conference and face the schedules we face every year, it won’t be a smooth ascent.  Under this Coach, the bumps have been easier to take and it is one fun ride.

It would have been a massive task to build a winner in Columbia no matter what.  We don’t have the extra luxuries other SEC schools enjoy.  LSU and Georgia are the only real programs in their states so they have a built-in recruiting base that should make it impossible to lose.  Win less than 10 games in a regular season in Athens or Baton Rouge and the Coach should be fired on the spot.  Period.  Also, we don’t have the history or reputation of an Alabama, Tennessee or Florida.
We are held to a much higher standard on NCAA rules and regulations than any other school in the country.  We get raked over the coals on things like tutoring and market rates on empty hotel rooms during an economic downturn.  Other schools allow their players to beat the daylights out of women and drink down booster cash like water and the NCAA ignores it.   

We do not play in a conference where a drunk baboon with a pet starfish can fall rear-end backwards into 10 wins every season.  And as an added bonus, anytime a school in our conference has to get the “short end” of the stick (like the 1-year schedule for adding new teams) we are the ones who always get the shaft.  Not sometimes mind you.  Always.   You get the idea.  We are not coddled and helped along on our path. 

I can tell you without a doubt it’s worth it.  I love where the Gamecock football program is and where we are headed.  Finally!  Yes, the road will continue to be rough and bumpy.  Nobody wants us to succeed!  Heck, we’ve been through this before.  My parents to this day talk about the resistance Frank McGuire got from the North Carolina schools when he was building his hoops program in Columbia.  At this point, what our football team is going through is NOTHING compared to those days. 

Go back and read the old ACC tales from the Gamecock side.  (Start with Bob Fulton’s book as opposed to the tarheel state hack who writes in Columbia now to make us angry and get his jollies)  The actual details of what went on during the rise to the top of the ACC are jaw-dropping.  You will read about players being dunked in effigy at Wake Forest, Duke and North Carolina conspiring to keep the #1 recruit in the nation out of Columbia, other coaches instigating fights on our court, teams holding the ball incessantly, our Coach’s special needs son being made fun of and many others. 

You will particularly enjoy the tale of the 1970 ACC tournament, where we were the #1 seed.  Our players and coaches showed up to watch some of the early games in street clothes and unassumingly walked into the arena.  The collective group of other fan bases mercilessly booed our players who were just sitting there until they were asked to leave because it was distracting attention from the game being played.    

I’m sorry if any of you were hoping that as we started actually causing discomfort in the SEC that we were going to be hugged and celebrated.  Not a chance.  The recent girly hissy fit and meltdown in Athens are just the tip of the iceberg on the backlash we face moving forward.  The days of folks coming to Columbia, picking up their easy win, telling us how neat the Cockabooses are and going home happy are over.  Basically, the reaction to the Alabama win last year in Columbia was as close to a “nice” reaction as we’ll ever get.  I hope we enjoyed it.  That was our “pat on the head, nice job” moment.  Wait until we REALLY tip the apple cart over on the powers-that-be in the conference. 

"Everyone calm down...I got this!"
It is this intangible that makes winning at South Carolina consistently so different, so difficult and such a challenge.  It’s something Frank McGuire understood and Steve Spurrier did as well.  And what a RUSH to actually do it!  It’s so much better to be hated.  It really is, and it’s why I say we should just sit back and enjoy the ride.  Let the other schools talk all day about what happened during the Carter and Reagan years.  Let the other schools have the history and the coddling.  Take the past.  I like what we have going on (really), and wouldn’t trade places with anyone. 

So here’s a toast to 2012 and beating those Nebraska Cornhuskers for 11 wins!  But win or lose, what a season!  10 wins, 2 losses, and zero “moral victories.”  Most importantly perhaps…no one likes it but us.  Awesome! It’s a great time to be a Gamecock! 

Happy New Year from the Cockabooster! 

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

BOWL SPECIAL: The Cock-A-Booster's Crystal Ball says...

No, it’s not all of them, but here is a random selection from the bowl buffet!

Music City Bowl

The Cigarette Preachers from Winston-Salem are hoping for a Music City revival this week, and they plan to neuter the Starkville K9s as part of the service.  Dan Mullen’s puppies are not ready to be sacrificed on a pigskin altar, and they plan to do more than bark.  The Gold and Black Billy Grahams should leave this one with a happy ending in the collection plate.  The Cock-A-Booster’s crystal ball says... Wake Forest by 1.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl

The Horsemen from Monticello gallop into Atlanta this weekend, hoping to run their lances through the felines from the plains.  The War Eagle Meow-men have been declawed all year and are already looking to 2012.  So if they aren’t careful, you could be hearing “eat more kitten” just west of The Varsity when this one is done.    The Cock-A-Booster’s crystal ball says... (in a tight one) Auburn by 2.
Outback Bowl

The Red Clay Hounds paw into Ybor City this weekend, hoping to sink their overrated jowls into some green infantrymen from East Lansing.  The gladiators don’t want to be in Tampa, but choked away their chance at a conference title.  Over in Alpo-Land, the puppies have not beaten anyone this fall with more than 7 wins.  Sometimes the good money follows lucky over good.  The Cock-A-Booster’s crystal ball says...Jawja by 6.

 Gator Bowl

The Urban Meyer Bowl takes place in Jacksonville this weekend, and the Gainesville Chompers will be ready to strike.  They better, because the shells will be tough to crack on the great river nuts from Columbus.  The Citrus Reptiles haven’t been their usual ferocious self of late, but they have the home bog and all the motivation in the world.   The Cock-A-Booster’s crystal ball says...Florida by 5.

Orange Bowl

The battle for fewest branches on a family tree will happen in Miami this year, as the Pickens County felines take on some moonshining alpinists from Morgantown.   This one is like Kathy Bates and Roseanne Barr fighting over who is the sexier Miss Universe contestant.   Since “neither” is not an option, I’ll choose the delusionary cousin-maters over the gun-toting sister-kissers.  After much duress and torment, the Cock-A-Booster’s crystal ball says...Moo U by 11.

Capital One Bowl

The Richland County Roosters will be in Disney World this weekend, hoping the Citrus Bowl ride is more like Space Mountain than It’s a Small World.  The Red Farmers from Lincoln have ideas of their own and they plan to do some plowing on I-4 before the day is done.  The Head Ball Coach may seem like Eeyore most of the time, but he wants this one like Pooh wants honey.  The Cock-a-booster’s crystal ball says... South Carolina by 7.

 BCS National Championship Game

The Ivory Tusks from the Birmingham suburbs trample down to Bourbon Street next week, hoping to extract a little pigskin revenge.  The Cajun Cats took down the Houndstooth Herd up in Tuscaloosa before, largely because Elephants’ feet  can’t kick field goals.  The Mad Hatter is known for his White Hat Houdini miracles but hoping for lightning to strike again is just too much.  The Cock-A-Booster’s crystal ball says...Alabama by 4.

Monday, December 26, 2011

MOO U News: Pete Yannity “de-friends” Will Merritt and Dabo Swinney on Facebook & Twitter



Clemson’s radio voice Pete Yannity has long been known as an oasis of sanity in the orange insane asylum in Pickens County.   But Yannity says he is tired of pretending he really likes his colleague Will Merritt or Coach Dabo Swinney any longer.  “I just can’t take them anymore.  Watching these guys drinking turpentine, eating paste and chewing on bus seats during football season and when we travel to away games is one thing.  But I don’t have to put up with their lunacy on my twitter page.”  

Merritt and Swinney responded to the news by singing the theme from The Flintstones and breaking root beer bottles on each other’s heads. 

MOO U News:West Virginia Football Coach, Mountaineer fan trigger Swinney hissey fit and meltdown



The radio announcer for the West Virginia Mountaineers, Tony Caridi, said on a sports show last week that Clemson and West Virginia hadn’t played each other in over two decades since meeting in a bowl game in 1989.  In response, Clemson’s psychotic football coach immediately attributed the quote to Mountaineer Head Coach Dana Holgorsen and went on a rant about the two programs’ histories.
“He’s right!  That’s what I would tell Dana although I am disappointed to hear him say that.  The two teams haven’t played in a while, and no upcoming bowl game is going to change that.  My children and grandchildren won’t live to see the day when we do play them on a regular basis.  If he wants to say we don’t play that much that’s fine but I am going to stick up for my team.  That’s why everyone means West Vancouver University when they say WVU and Appalachian State when they say Mountaineers.”  When it was pointed out to Swinney that Holgorsen hadn’t actually said the “offensive” quote, Swinney remained defiant and red-faced.  “I haven’t heard any retractions!”  Dabo shot us the bird when we pointed out that it was impossible to retract a statement that someone had not made.  “Tweet that” was the closest thing we could get to a coherent response. 
In other Yabo Dabo Doo Doo news, the Tiger football Coach has completely lost it about a letter that supposedly was mailed to Swinney from a random West Virginia fan ahead of the bowl game.  No one has actually seen the letter, and the text in it mysteriously changes everytime the coach talks about it.  But it gave him a chance to go off on one of his patented tirades and gin up the fan base. This latest media stunt was needed due to the poor ticket sales to the Orange Bowl, which was a worst case draw for the host game.  

In response to this latest bout with insanity, USC’s Gamecock Board of Trustees sent a letter to Clemson asking that Dabo immediately be given a lifetime contract at Clemson. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

This is a bowl even Spurrier wants!

I don’t know Steve Spurrier personally.  I can’t confirm or disprove “conventional wisdom” about him.  One of the most “accepted” premises about the Head Ball Coach is that he doesn’t care about “minor” bowls.  Is it true?  Probably not, but the team’s bowl performances in recent years feed into that assumption. 
When we went to the Pizza Bowl in Birmingham a couple of years ago, I did what I could staying at the team’s hotel to watch how they were handling the trip.  I don’t know what preparation was going on behind closed doors but what I witnessed in front of me led me to believe that the players and coaches were treating it as a vacation.  We arrived at that pit of a stadium and it was freezing.  They actually ran out of pizza in the first quarter at the Papa John’s Bowl!  (My older brother called Domino’s to get a pizza delivered.  True Story but I digress.)  As you know, the team sleepwalked through a game they had no interest in and we were beaten up by a disciplined and well-prepared Connecticut squad.  That team wanted to be there and it showed. 
Contrast that year to Lou Holtz’s first Outback Bowl team.  We were the underdog on paper to Ohio State.  Our starting running back was not on the trip and we had to go with a backup named Ryan Brewer from Ohio.  We were told for a month how much better the Buckeyes were and that we would be outclassed.  Ohio State was in the middle of turmoil and frankly didn’t want to be there.  A hungry and focused bunch of Gamecocks with a chip on their shoulders went out and danced all over the mighty Bucks 24-7.  Brewer scored three times on his home-state team and was carried off the field.  We wanted that bowl and it showed. 
Granted, effort doesn’t always decide bowl games.  We’ve lost a bowl I thought we played hard in-  the Gator Bowl in 1984.  We won a bowl we didn’t care about as well- the Liberty Bowl over Houston.  Of course the best bowls involve two good teams that want to be there.  I don’t know what Nebraska’s approach to the bowl will be but you get the sense that this one means something to Spurrier because of history.  Even he admits that history motivates him and that is a good sign for the Gamecocks.  We have never won 11 games in a season.  The Coach says that he wants the players to receive rings if they win to mark the achievement. 
In a perfect world the team would approach every game and every bowl with the exact same energy level and focus but that’s not reality.  You get the feeling this year is going to be one to remember for the Garnet and Black.  Assuming Nebraska feels that way, this is going to be a great bowl game to watch.  Merry Christmas!   

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

MOO U News: Top 10 Hottest Christmas Gifts at Moo U



10.  The 2011 “We don’t care about the Rivalry anymore” Ornaments. (2010 and 2009 versions available)
9.  The “Snuggie” for Udders.  Keep the milk fresh while the Cows stay warm.
8.  Clemson Christmas songs on CD!!  Hits include Pete Yannity singing “I saw Will Merritt eating Santa Claus,” and Dabo Swinney’s version of “Dat Little Dumber Boy.” 
7.  A petition to make North Greenville Clemson’s new football rival. 
6.  The Ron Morris guide to Gamecock Football
5.  Steve Spurrier Dart Board             
4.  The special edition “Orange Bowl” cigarette cartons for sale at Wal Mart and the L’il Cricket
3.   New Clemson children’s book at Barnes & Noble:  “Heather has a Mommy and a Daddy but one of them says Moo.” 
2.  New holiday DVD:  “Elf on the Shelf (and other words people in Iva can spell)” 
1.  Danny Ford Collectible Plates (non-paper version cost extra)

MOO U News: Clemson offers Ray Tanner $10 million to Coach Tiger Baseball for 1 season


In the spirit of the movie “Indecent Proposal,” Clemson has approached USC about borrowing Ray Tanner to coach Tiger baseball for one season in 2012, while in return sending ten million dollars to Columbia.  Clemson Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips explains.  “We really would like to win a national championship in a men’s major sport for the first time in 30 years, and if we could get Ray up here to get us one, we’d be happy.  Our plan in football is to ignore the annual rivalry beating and pretend being the 7th ACC team in 20 years to win the weakest BCS conference is more important.  So on top of that, we have to find a way to win a meaningful title too.  Baseball is our best bet.” 
Current Tiger Baseball Coach Jack Leggett is uncomfortable with the idea but knows how badly Clemson needs a championship.  “As long as it is only 1 season and I get to go back to getting us ‘almost there’ every few years we’ll make it work.”  Belton resident Monty Bennett, aka “Tiger Paw Pete,” says Clemson fans have secretly been in love with Tanner for a while anyway.  “We like old Jack Leggett.  He’s okay and does a good job for us.  But to be able to actually have a fling with a rock star like Ray would be a dream come true.”  If the arrangement with the Gamecocks works, Phillips says Clemson may consider a similar proposal for basketball with Mike Krzyzewski at Duke or Roy Williams in Chapel Hill.  “We’ll see how this goes with the real sports, and then we can talk about bucketball.”

Monday, December 19, 2011

Alshon going pro makes sense

Alshon Jeffery had me at St. Matthews.  Being from my hometown, I was on his bandwagon from the get-go.  Considering its small size, Calhoun County’s “biggest urban center” has produced several big Gamecock athletic figures.  Tatum Gressette and Bobby Gressette were brothers who were both captains on Carolina’s football team.  Zam Fredrick led the nation in scoring in 1980 and took the Gamecock Nation on a ride known as the “Zam Slam.”  

So will Alshon finish his final season in Columbia?  Of course I would love to see him come back.  Roughly 16 starters will be returning for Carolina in 2012, looking to build on the double-digit win success of this year’s campaign.  Who wouldn’t want to mop as much of it up as possible?  14 more games of running through the tunnel at Williams-Brice, piling up the wins, expanding the numbers in the records you already own, being adored by the entire state and making 1 more run at a National Championship?  And yes, being able to play a season with his little brother on the field with him would be pretty cool.  

As tempting as all of that is, my gut says and has said all along that Jeffery will go pro next year.  Who can blame him if he does?  His legacy is secure in Columbia right now.  Try and find me a better three year span in Gamecock football history.  If he does leave, Alshon departs Columbia owning most of the receiving records, some of the most spectacular plays in school history and the love and adulation of the entire fan base.  

Going into the bowl game against Nebraska, Jeffery has compiled 179 receptions, 2894 yards and 22 touchdowns over his career.  From his breakout performance against Kentucky in 2009 until this November, Alshon’s story has been chapter after chapter of total excitement.  Carolina has gone 26-13 during his career, captured its first division title and chalked a 9-3 tally against Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Clemson.  

Speaking of Clemson, there is no institution that will be happier to see Jeffery leave than Moo U.  Alshon has been a major factor in producing three lopsided wins against the rival kittens.  #1 caught 11 balls for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Tigers.  The average score of the three games was 32.3-12.3 (a cumulative total of 97-37).  

The bottom line is that Jeffery can’t make a bad choice regarding the NFL.  If he stays it is 14 more games for us to enjoy him catching balls and winning games with the Gamecocks.  But he’s probably going to go, and when he leaves, Gamecock fans will understand.  After all, it doesn’t get much better than letting your final catch at Williams-Brice be a signature touchdown against Clemson in front of the student section.  Thanks for the memories #1.  

 You will always be a very special Gamecock!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Either have a playoff or go back to the old system

As a fan of a team in the conference that has benefitted the most from the “ESPN-ification” of college football, I probably shouldn’t care that the BCS is a ridiculous system.  If/when my team finishes the season with 1 loss and wins the conference we are automatically going to get a spot in the title game, earned or not.  I get that.  Also, there are conferences that benefit from the other extreme who should just be happy.  These “automatic” conference bids are laughable on their face. 

So whether BCS to your conference means “Because (of) Conference Strength” or “Because (your) Conference Stinks” is irrelevant to me.  Neither of those scenarios should have anything to do with who plays for the national title.  What was solved with the formation of the BCS again?  Why was the old bowl system scrapped?

No matter what else you say about the BCS formation, it was loudly proclaimed to be the system that was going to give us a #1 vs. #2 system and a “true National Champion.”  Conveniently now, the second part of that is dropped when folks on ESPN talk about the BCS but it was there at the time.  And no, we were NOT told that we would have to tweak the system over and over again to keep covering problem circumstances.    So let’s just fast-forward through all of the silliness and get to a playoff, or let’s go back to the way things were.  The only bad option is staying right where we are. 

The current system reeks of trying to be “a little bit pregnant.”  Don’t claim you have a system that can boast of yielding a true national champion when a third of the teams (or more) have no chance at all to earn their way into the mix, while other teams can get in automatically by beating up six or seven sisters of the poor. 

I understand that there will always be complaining about whatever playoff system is used.  Having said that, I would MUCH rather have the complaining coming from teams who feel they should have been the #4 or #8 seed as opposed to the #2 seed.  Would the “Plus-1” solution be the final tweak to the system?  I doubt it, but at least a team like Oklahoma State this year would be given a shot to play for the title. 

To me, the obvious choice is an 8-team format.  7 games on a rotating basis using the four BCS stadiums (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange), the Citrus, the Cotton and the Outback.  Shoot, make it 12 teams with the top 4 seeds having  a bye.  Or let’s just go back to the way things were and let the bowls have their traditional conference tie-ins again.  If we’re not going to fix what was wrong anyway, then let’s retrieve the baby from the bathwater.  Anything is better than what we have now.