Thursday, September 28, 2006

Gameday Smack: A Brief History of South Carolina Football

South Carolina played their first football game in 1892. Establishing a tradition that would extend well into the 21st Century, the Gamecocks lost, 44-0 to Furman, and according to their own official records, had "no coach" for their first five seasons. Historians generally agree that the last point explains the 1994 hiring of Brad Scott. The intervening century has hardly been kind to perhaps the only males in America who enjoy being called "those Cocks." In 112 years, Carolina has notched a record of 507-512-44.

Fairness moves me to note that Kalinky could well be over .500 if only ESPN "expert" Lou Holtz hadn't lost every single game he coached in 1999, plus 19 more games over his last three seasons. Then again, Lou's coaching technique of banging a bedpan against his walker probably doesn't get a player's attention the way it used to.

Lou Holtz

USC was invited to join the SEC in 1992. The Cocks' lifetime .321 winning percentage against the conference begs the casual observer to wonder, "Why? We already had Vanderbilt." Just as inexplicable are the 16 pages in USC's media guide dedicated to the Gamecocks' bowl games--all twelve of them, highlighted by three wins, with the first arriving in 1995's epic Carquest Bowl (televised on the Ocho). Carolina has never appeared in a major bowl, and has never seriously threatened to play in the SEC Championship Game.

Steve Spurrier
In 2004, Gamecock fans were even more stunned than the rest of the SEC when former Florida legend Steve Spurrier agreed to succeed Holtz (the rest of us already knew Spurrier was a Cock). A place in history is already assured for Visor Boy in his current position: he's the only head coach ever known to have taken a job solely to gain access to a golf course.

On the plus side, Spurrier managed to edge a terrible Tennessee team and a mediocre Florida last year (to his credit, the looks on the faces of Phil Fulmer and Urban Meyer at the ends of those games were utterly, utterly priceless). On the downside, he got clobbered at Auburn, choked in Shreveport against Big 12 punchline Missouri, and lost by three touchdowns to offensive genius Mike Shula--at home.

Speaking of playing at home, though, I would be entirely unfair if I didn't take a moment here to quite seriously compliment South Carolina on having the best fans in all of the SEC. During 1998-99, Carolina went 1-21, a dismal record of futility that gets even worse when you realize they won their opener in 1998, then proceeded to lose the next 21 games. In the modern history of the SEC, even Vandy hasn't had a run that bad.

Here's the impressive part: from 1998 to 1999, the average home attendance at Bryce-Williams Stadium went up by 3,529.

Those are fans, people. I'm here to tell you, if any other team in the SEC lost 20 straight--and I mean any team, Tennessee, LSU, Alabama, Florida, and yes, Auburn, you'd be able to land a C-5 Galaxy on most of the rows in their stadium by the end of the year. Not in Columbia, where every seat gets filled, no matter what.

So Cock fans, while you may well fit the dictionary definition of "masochists," I still salute you. Y'all are for real.

Now get out there and do what you do so well--watch your team get beat.


Preacher Steve said...
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Preacher Steve said...

"Carolina has never... seriously threatened to play in the SEC Championship Game."

Except for last year, when they were a missed extra point from the SEC title game. But why let the facts get in the way of a good rant, eh?

Point taken, though.

Jeff A. said...

Although this game may not be the beatdown AU gave them last year, I except nearly a similar result. But as our performance in the first half of the Buffalo game proves, don't take any team lightly. The right combination of our mistakes and Cock fortune can be just the ticket they are looking for, and the excuse the pollsters needed to move us down (in this case, it would be rightly so). Just ask Bama after last weekend :).

Only 6 hours and a few minutes until game time. WDE!