Monday, January 21, 2013

Carolina is the steak, not the sizzle

When you are going through the growing pains of becoming a winning football program, AND you’re a program that follows the rules as tightly as USC does, you can’t avoid good players leaving early for the pros.  And in the context of this column, I am really not talking about players such as Alshon or Clowney.  Their going pro after 3 seasons would happen anywhere.   I am really talking about cases such as Sidney Rice or Ace Sanders.  In other words, less “crystal clear” decisions. 

Now at some schools, things happen behind closed doors that lead to a higher percentage of these “tweeners” remaining for another year.  And yes, it is irritating and you hope the old karma wheel circles around at some point but that has nothing to do with Carolina.  Outside of technical violations and “rampant tutoring” and the like, USC has a coach that chooses the straight and narrow path and I like it that way.  

But more tweeners will leave because of that, and we have to live with it in Columbia.  The Gamecocks could have chosen to remain the big-yapping “sizzle,” but instead we have dug in, built for the long-term and are the steak instead.  Some schools can be both and have more history at it.  Alabama is the most obvious example of course, but there aren’t many that can consistently combine the substance AND the hype.  

So if you’re a Carolina fan, ask yourself if you’d like to return to running our mouths all year, beating up on a weak schedule and then getting whipped by Clemson?  Yes, we may have had (gasp) 4 losses in the last 2 seasons.  Oh, the horror!  Yes, we may “only” be a consistent top-10 program now that is almost “disappointed” to be sitting at #7 to end a season.  I have lived long enough to see us have an active and current win streak of at least three games against Tennessee, Georgia and Clemson.  And of course the big one on that list is at 4 and counting. 

I do wish our fans could learn to enjoy things more but that will come I guess.  After  2012, all I heard was USC fans bellyaching over having to replace Antonio Allen, Melvin Ingram, Alshon, etc, etc.  What on EARTH were we going to do?  Annnnd we turn around and go 11-2 again and are right there in the top 10.  Much to no one’s surprise, now the bellyaching has started back up.  OH NO!  We have to replace Ace, DJ, Devin, etc.  What are we going to do???  Geez.  

Good programs graduate great players who must be replaced by other great players, and we’re doing that now.  Consistently.  No, we’re not as adept at manipulating the media as some other schools with hyper fools at the helm who ignore reality, and yes that does lead to some head-shaking and heavy breathing.   But we are what we are.  Carolina is not where we want to be, but we’re a hell of a lot better than we used to be.  I can live with that.   

22 wins, 4 losses, and ZERO “Moral Victories.”  Love it.  Bring on the Tarheels and 2013! 
What a great time to be a Gamecock! 

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