Friday, October 28, 2011

Why Knoxville Matters

I understand that winning in Neyland Stadium is always a big deal and is always important.  This year, maybe for the first time since Carolina joined the SEC, it’s almost as important “not to lose.”  Gamecock fans already feel that way about trips to Vandy and Kentucky so it’s not a foreign concept.  (Last year’s loss in Lexington is still seethed about by the Garnet and Black feathered followers as something that is inexcusable and should never happen.)
But Tennessee?  Rocky Top?  Lulu and Junior-land?  If you’re like me and you were there when Taneyhill and crew fell just a bit short at 55-3, or painfully watched us lose in OT twice with great chances to pull upsets…it’s just different trying to feel that way about the Vols. 
Also, we have one win in that stadium ever.  ONE!  Josh Brown’s FG is one of my favorite memories as a Gamecock (along with Sidney Rice’s tantalizing tightrope walk on the back end line after we used two timeouts ahead of the throw).  So you’ll just have to forgive me if I’m not yet comfortable with this situation.  Moving from “perennial loser” to “winning program” seems like it would be an easy thing to do, but it actually involves a ton of these “mental battles” among the fan base. 
A current Gamecock student from the Lowcountry told me something recently that I think accounts for this “divide” between the negative and positive fans.  Students who entered USC as freshmen in Columbia this fall were born in 1993.  That means several things that make me feel old but explain their new optimism:
  • They were born AFTER Carolina entered the SEC in 1992.
  • Their first real memories of Gamecock football were 2000 and 2001, the Outback Bowl years.
  • They have only really known two Gamecock coaches- Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier.  They were mostly 5 years old when Holtz was hired.
They weren’t around or paying attention for any of that horrible negative history us older fans have endured.   They just expect us to do well.  Imagine that.  For once, maybe us “Old Dogs” should learn some of their “New Tricks.”  A second win in Knoxville would help us make that transition.

1 comment:

  1. You are so right! A win in Knoxville would go a long way in changing our expectations and attitudes.



We will review all comments before they appear on the blog. Cock-A-Booster has final say in what appears on the blog and what is withheld. Please keep your comments PG-rated.