Friday, January 6, 2012

Hopefully, we will have bigger fish to fry!

I love my collection of old Gamecock games on tape and DVD.  Watching Mike Hold work his magic in 1984, the Black Death defense of 1987, Steve Taneyhill making enemies all over the Southeast, The Fade, The Outbacks, etc, are all fun items to re-live occasionally.  Having said that, there was always a double-edge to that sword.   After all, one of the main reasons Gamecocks have always been so nostalgic about the past was that the present usually was bad. 
Frankly, for a long time the only “positive” aspect of football season was the social stuff.  For years, my roommate and I would host an annual peanut boil on Whaley Street the night before Carolina’s first home football game.  Like clockwork, the old games would be watched while the delicious legumes were being tenderized in large pots by hot water and salt.  Meanwhile, the apartment was filled with pyramids of beer cans and hours of bitter discussion over what was wrong with the football team and why we would never be good. 
Then comes September 30, 2006 and a very close 24-17 loss to #2 Auburn in Columbia.  That night, following one of many “looking good losing” moral victories, the Gamecock fans gave a roaring ovation to the team for their effort.  I was actually with a friend who is an Auburn grad at that game and I have to admit our conversation was focused on how well we had played despite losing.  Steve Spurrier was livid with the fans over this as you might recall.  He specficially admonished everyone to stop being happy with losing. 
It is easy to forget what happened next, but if you’re being honest, the local fans and the media tore into Spurrier over that.  How times have changed.  Just five years ago, we were all giddy and excited over a close loss at home during a 7-5 season that ended with a Liberty Bowl bid.  Now we have parts of the fan base that pick apart an 11-2 season that included wins over Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Nebraska and Clemson! 
Spurrier is not the nicest guy in the world, but he was 100% right about our fan base needing to change their mentality.  I was Exhibit A on that and I will be the first to admit I was wrong.  He has made me realize I want a winner in Columbia, not some carnival barker who blows smoke up my rear end to make me feel better or makes a fool of himself pandering to the fan base. 
Spurrier may lack on style, but he delivers on substance.  He doesn’t pull media stunts to draw attention to himself and he doesn’t spin what happens, good or bad. He came here to do a job and he is motivated to do things that haven’t been done before.  We have gone from the SEC’s favorite road game trip to being a hated team with a nasty defense and some swagger. 
And now comes the final step, which also happens to be the hardest step.  We have done everything else you can do in the SEC except for winning the championship.  That’s why 5 seconds after we finished the win over Nebraska, “12 wins in 2012” became the new mantra for Gamecock Football.  Tough schedule or not, if we don’t take that next step as a program, we have no one to blame but ourselves.   
I have no idea where my 5-year old son will go to college one day, but I do know this.  If he goes to Carolina for whatever reason, I want his preseason peanut boils to be focused on all that is great about Gamecock Football and the chances to win a title with “his” current team.  What I don’t want is for him to be watching a replay of the 2011 Clemson game and  griping about how bad we are.  I hope instead he tells me to stop talking about how awesome Alshon Jeffery was when he was in Columbia.  Hopefully it will be something like, “Daddy, why do you care so much about a team that only won the Citrus Bowl and 11 games?  We have bigger fish to fry now!” 

1 comment:

  1. Hey, at least we don't have to play Auburn for a few years! KS



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