To the Residents of Gamecock Hateville

Live shot of a Gamecock message board

Live shot of a Gamecock message board

A lot of fans of South Carolina athletics live in Hateville, a place that exists in cyberspace where mostly anonymous fans spend their time and efforts thinking up negative things to say about the teams they otherwise cheer for on a regular basis.

Before you call me an apologist, a sunshine pumper, or anything of the sort, let me make it clear that I am fine with, and often engage in, healthy criticism about the teams I pull for, including South Carolina. Healthy criticism is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about what goes on in Hateville. In Hateville fans go over the top. In Hateville, it’s common to call coaches lazy and to question their qualifications to even be a coach at this level. In Hateville folks have all the answers.

The haters tell us about all the huge mistakes these lazy and uncaring coaches made in the game they watched from their couch. The haters then go on to tell us what they recommend to fix the problems they have identified.  Most of these recommendations center on benching the quarterback or firing the coach.  For example, a couple of years ago, a large contingent of USC haters wanted to bench some guy named Shaw in favor of some guy named Thompson.  This year, a large contingent of haters were absolutely convinced that all of our defensive coaches except Grady Brown were completely clueless and should never have been hired in the first place (meanwhile the D of our old defensive guru, Ellis Johnson, then at Auburn, was getting torched on a weekly basis). At the present time, a bunch of haters want to fire Coach Holbrook because the baseball team is in a big slump.

I’ll be the first to admit that in football our defense was terrible last year and that coaching/recruiting had something to do with it (but not having Jadeveon Clowney around anymore may have been a slight factor). I’ll also be the first to admit that our baseball team is not as good as any of our teams in the recent past. These are facts and they are indisputable.

I just happen to believe that the reasons for unsuccessful results are far more complicated that an allegation that Coach Sands is “lazy” or that Coach Holbrook is too much of a “good cop.” And by the way, how do the haters have all this information about the commitment and toughness level of our coaches? It seems that all the inhabitants of Hateville have firsthand knowledge of their daily routines and habits. What I think actually happens is that they read some snippet on the internet or twitter given by an “insider,” or uttered by a 17-year-old recruit, take it to be the gospel truth, and then they draw some sort of grand conclusion from it.

I have a couple of theories on why USC’s version of Hateville has so many residents these days: recent success and social media.

As eloquently espoused by Buck in a blog post a couple of years ago, it’s fair to say that we recently experienced what he termed the Golden Age of South Carolina athletics. This Golden Age was largely a result of the success by the football and baseball teams. While success is great, it also results in two things that aren’t so great: bandwagon fans and unrealistic expectations.  I am of the belief that most residents of Hateville are bandwagon fans who don’t appreciate success like the fans who were supporters when wins were harder to come by. The bandwagoners jumped on board when times were good, and in short, they got spoiled. Only a select few football teams go 33-6 over a 3 year span. Only a select few baseball teams win back to back championship, and even fewer play for three titles in three years.

What some fans fail to appreciate is that the football and baseball teams didn’t have much room for improvement. To the contrary, they had nowhere to go but down (I know, we could have won the SEC championship, but what we accomplished in football over a three-year span was pretty incredible in hindsight). When a team loses after having some success, it stings more. And when it stings, some folks get angry and start pointing fingers.  After all, losing has to be somebody’s fault. You couldn’t have just gotten beat by a better team that was cycling up while you were cycling down.

I agree that we should have higher expectations that we have had in the past. I’m all for striving for more wins than we historically have been able to muster. That said, I realize that the path to sustained success is steep and winding. Occasionally our teams are going to swerve off the path and actually go backwards. This happens when every team you play (many of which have more tradition and more resources that you do) is trying to beat you as bad as you are trying to beat them.

One thing that really chaps me about Hateville: haters come across with an attitude that our coaches and administration don’t care, and that they are making emotional decisions about the retention of coaches. Personally I think this is total BS. Call me naïve, but I believe that our coaches and administrators are genuinely trying to win and would never retain a coach who they didn’t think could win. I find it preposterous to think that proven winners like Steve Spurrier and Ray Tanner would purposely retain coaches just for the hell of it. But the residents of Hateville think otherwise. How they know this, I’m not sure.   Maybe it’s the same way they know that our defensive coaches, save Grady Brown, are all lazy and stupid.

These past couple of weeks have been particularly busy in Hateville. The huge baseball slump has generated a steady diet of Fire Coach Holbrook message board posts and tweets. Coach H has been accused of ruining the precious baseball program, basically based on the rationale that he’s too much of a nice guy. You all know what they say about nice guys: that’s right, they finish last. I’m as disappointed as anyone that we aren’t winning more baseball games this year. I want that to change. But I’m also aware that baseball is a cruel game, a game where breaks tend to even out.

While I agree that we aren’t as talented, I think part of the issue (not the blowouts, mind you) is that the breaks have evened out a bit. During one stretch, this team lost 4 consecutive one run games in conference. One run games are a lot about breaks. During the championship years we always seemed to get the breaks. This year we just haven’t. Is some of that a lack of talent? Maybe. Is some of that a coaching issue? Maybe. I really can’t tell you, and I’ve been following baseball pretty closely for most of my life. People have forgotten that the 2010 team was pretty underwhelming late in the year. They forgot because the team then got hot as a firecracker and went on the win the national championship.

Why did that seemingly unremarkable team get hot and win it all while the Kip Bouknight and Justin Smoak-led teams never make it to Omaha? Who the hell knows. If you can figure it out, please let me know.

Social media also contributes to the hater attitude and the existence of haters because of the mob mentality that can spring from anonymous commentators piling on when a particular hater viewpoint is given. It becomes a feeding frenzy on the poor sap who filled out the lineup card or drew up the X’s and O’s. Haters want the coach to go as soon as things start going wrong. They want a new coach in place as fast as they can tweet it (because the unknown new coach is of course better than the current coach). Because certain things can happen so much faster these days, haters want failure to be remedied at light speed (think about how pissed off folks get when the wifi is slow). Instant gratification is what they are after. I really wish it worked that way in sports but it just doesn’t. Sometimes you have to endure rough patches when the talent level drops or the breaks all go the other way. That’s pretty much how it goes for every football program not named Alabama and every baseball program not named LSU, and even LSU has had some bad teams in recent years.

[Update: We just won the Vandy series. I wonder what the haters are gonna hate about this week. I’m not too worried. I’m sure they’ll find something.]

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Gamecock Baseball Not So Normal These Days

Chad-Holbrook-in-dugout-vs-UK-13

Photo courtesy of sportstalksc.com

Back in June of 2011, the day after South Carolina clinched its second consecutive National Championship in baseball, I penned a blog post called The New Normal. The new normal lauded the Gamecock program as the best in the nation, and a team that wasn’t going away any time soon:

“I think the thing is, for Carolina baseball, this is the new normal.  We have the best baseball program in the country, and I don’t think anyone can dispute that at the moment.  Making it to the CWS is no longer the goal.  Winning the whole darn thing is.”

Who could argue? With arguably the best coach, the best facilities, and a stockpile of top recruiting classes, the Gamecock baseball team was going to be a serious threat to make it to Omaha for many years to come.

In 2012, Ray Tanner captained an overachieving South Carolina team to a CWS runner-up finish, ending the greatest run in Gamecock sports history. Less than a month later, he traded in his pinstripes for a coat and tie and succeeded Eric Hyman as Director of Athletics at USC.

There was no coaching search to replace Tanner, because there was no doubt who his replacement would be – Chad Holbrook.

Holbrook had come to South Carolina in 2009 as Associate Head Coach and was being groomed to replace Tanner from day one. He was named the 10th best recruiter in all of college athletics by ESPN in 2010, and was named Assistant Coach of the Year in 2011 by both by the ABCA and Baseball America. His promotion to head coach was a no-brainer.

In 2013 he led the Gamecocks to a 43-20 record, but they were ousted in an NCAA Super Regional at North Carolina. It was in that series that his in-game management first came into serious question, bunting his best hitter in the first inning of a scoreless game with a  runner on.

The Gamecocks had a similar season in 2014, with a 44-18 record. But the season ended in the Regional round with a shocking 10-1 home loss to upstart Maryland, a team that had ended their 28-game NCAA tournament home winning streak the night before. Holbrook was once again called into question for starting super freshman Wil Crowe in an elimination game against Campbell instead of saving him for the Terrapins.

The Gamecocks lost some big guns after last season, including Jordan Montgomery, Joey Pankake, Grayson Greiner, Tanner English and closer Joel Seddon. But “The New Normal” meant the Gamecocks would just reload from their stockpile of outstanding recruiting classes and be right back on track in 2015. Optimists had the Gamecocks in the preseason top 5, and even the most pessimistic of projections had the Gamecocks easily in the top 25.

An opening season loss to College of Charleston was followed by six straight wins. Losing two of three to Clemson was disappointing, but the Gamecocks reeled off ten straight wins and everything seemed to be, well, normal.

But the win streak was broken with a mid-week loss to Winthrop (no worries, everyone loses mid-week games!) After that, the Gamecocks lost four straight SEC series for the first time since becoming a conference member. Last weekend they were simply not competitive and swept by Florida in three games by a combined score of 38-10.

The capper came last night, with a 7-4 extra-innings loss at home to Presbyterian College. Read that sentence again. With all due respect to PC, that is a sentence that should never have to be written about South Carolina baseball. Ever.

USC is currently 23-15 overall, 6-9 in the conference, and with series left against highly-ranked Vanderbilt, Texas A&M and LSU, are looking like a long shot to make the NCAA tournament. The last time USC didn’t make the tournament was 1999.

It’s hard to believe how far and how fast we’ve fallen. Many have thrown out the “everybody has a bad year” reasoning. If Ray Tanner was still the head coach I’d accept that in a heartbeat, because Tanner had earned the benefit of the doubt and then some. Some have said “look at Florida, they were 29-30 in 2013, it happens”. But they, too, have a head coach in Kevin O’Sullivan that has earned a mulligan or two with the way he has built that program.

My concern is we’ve seen a steady decline over the last three years under Chad Holbrook, with a complete fall off of a cliff this season. Yes, we made the Supers in 2013 and hosted a regional last year. But honestly, making out a lineup card with the likes of Pankake, Greiner, Montgomery, English, etc., made his job much easier.

I honestly don’t know if the recruiting classes we’ve had were overrated, the players simply haven’t developed, or some combination of the two has caused our demise. All I know is the common denominator is Holbrook, whose in-game management has been questioned often in his short tenure.

I’m not exactly calling for the firing of Chad Holbrook, because I’m essentially a wuss. I have very human feelings when it comes to talking about firings, and knowing that Holbrook is a family man and is by all accounts a fantastic guy, I simply can’t make that call right now. Plus, being Ray Tanner’s hand-picked guy, he probably has an extremely long leash.

But at the same time, college baseball is a pretty big deal at the University of South Carolina. The back-to-back CWS titles are getting further and further in the rearview mirror, and there doesn’t appear to be a return trip to Omaha on the horizon any time soon.

We cannot afford to leave our beautiful program in the hands of someone who can’t handle it. And if we leave it there too long, there will be a new “new normal”, and it will not be pleasant.

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If You Could Change the Outcome of One Play in Gamecock History…

77645041Hey we’re back!

What would bring The Rubber Chickens Blog out of semi-retirement to make an actual blog post? A Mighty Meaty pizza from Mellow Mushroom? Yes, definitely. Ronda Rousey putting Dabo Swinney in an armbar? You know it. A Jim Carrey film festival minus that stupid penguin movie? Yeah, you got us.

Unfortunately none of those things have been offered to us.

Deadspin, however, piqued our interest yesterday with a hypothetical question that involves things we love like sports, time travel, and the possibility of changing life as we know it via the butterfly effect. The question – if you could change the outcome of one play, which would it be?

They were obviously talking about sports in general, and gave the great example of Gordon Heyward’s half-court shot at the end of the 2010 national championship game against Duke going in instead of rimming out.

I, of course, immediately thought of this question in Gamecock-only terms.

My very first thought (which is usually the one that contains the most intense, deep-seated anguish that is more than likely responsible for my sciatica) is “The Push” by Rod Gardner on Andre Goodman in the 2000 Carolina-Clemson game. While that play not happening probably doesn’t change the long-term fortunes of either school, it would take away a helluva painful moment for Gamecock fans in the rivalry.

The play that possibly changes our fortunes more than any other? I’d have to say Marquez North’s circus catch near the end of Tennessee’s  23-21 upset of South Carolina in 2013. Without that play, South Carolina eakes out an SEC road victory and goes on to an 11-1 record and a date with Auburn in the SEC Championship Game*. And if we could’ve sprung the upset in the SECCG, that very well might have meant a date in the final BCS National Championship Game against Florida State.

*Of course this little exercise involves assumptions, such as Tennessee doesn’t make some other miracle play to win that game, or that we still go into Missouri the following week and win that game.

The play that I didn’t immediately think of that made me feel like a full-blown jerk is the Marcus Lattimore injury (h/t @brentsilvia). Once again, it was a play that probably didn’t change the fortunes of our football team, but it was a play that radically changed the life trajectory of one of the most beloved players in Gamecock history.

Other twitter/text mentions include:

Interestingly, we didn’t receive any plays from any other sport than football. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad fortune that we haven’t been “one play away” in other sports. Or at least not memorably.

Fellow TRC writer Tbone then posed another interesting question – what one play in Gamecock sports history would you NEVER GIVE BACK?  While we didn’t pose the question to Twitter, here are the ones we came up with:

How about you? If you could change the outcome of one play in Gamecock history, what would it be?

Or which play would you keep over all the others?

Post your answers in the comments below, or @ tweet them at us. We’d love to hear some that haven’t been mentioned here.

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TRC Unleashed Episode 75 – Goodbye Football, Hello Basketball

TRC Unleashed returns with a healthy discussion about coaching changes, if they should be made, if so then why, if not then why not, if so then who, and oh God I hope the podcast isn’t this boring.

Tune in, we even talk about basketball, and answer a whole slew of Twitter questions.

Click here or click the graphic to listen, and enjoy!

TRC-Unleashed-Button

 

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At the Movies with TRC – Clemson’s “I Am Death Valley”

We typically only go to the movies to discuss Gamecock videos, like here and here, but occasionally something comes along outside of the USC marketing department that is so atrocious that we simply cannot ignore.

Clemson’s “I Am Death Valley” is that something. Witness here:

Now, it looks like this video has been around for more than a year, but I just personally found out about its existence this week. Based on a little research the video has been playing before Clemson home games since 2013. Many would argue this video is a direct, stadium-as-first-person ripoff of South Carolina’s “Welcome to Williams-Brice”, which has been playing since 2011. But we really don’t care about that since we don’t particularly like either video.

Let’s start with the voiceover in “I Am Death Valley”. Having Optimus Prime or Beelzebub (I can’t tell which one, it’s not listed in the credits) agree to do the voiceover is quite a coup for the Tigers. But it is also comically distracting. It is either a guy with a deep voice being asked to do something unnatural to make it deeper, or it is computer generated. For the sake of the guy (or girl?) doing it, I hope it is the latter. Again, to sound tough or intimidating you don’t have to have some deep-voiced 60-year-old dude. To both South Carolina and Clemson – branch out with your voiceover talent, do something different.

The imagery is not terrible, although the opening sequence uses the same three under construction photos multiple times to make sync up with the music. Historical footage is always cool, and the rest is pretty standard fare.

The script is not all bad, but there are a few sections that worth noting:

I am the seats handed down from generation to generation. 

Sure buddy, until those PSL’s kick in.

The OOOOOOH of the crowd as a tackler meets his mark.

In 1:25 of creepy voiceover, the “OOOOOOH” part might be the creepiest.

The 110% commitment to be “All In”.

When are people going to learn that, by definition, it is not possible to give more than 100%. And there’s “All In”, ripped off from Auburn, still hanging around.

The paralyzing joy that originates in a California desert. 

What? Perhaps the most nonsensical line of the entire script. What is paralyzing joy? And if joy did actually paralyze you wouldn’t that scare the ever-living crap out of you and take your joy away immediately? And I know the rock came from a California desert, but why did the paralyzing joy originate there? Sounds like somebody got bit by a desert rattler and was transported to the stadium.

I’m where two Perrys, Kirkland, Dawkins, Spiller, and Nuke became immortals.

Why do you use the last names of five of your most celebrated players, and then the nickname of DeAndre Hopkins? It’s not even a cool nickname, “Nuke”. It’s kind of a silly nickname to put up alongside your “immortals”. It also cracks me up that they show Hopkins catching a TD against South Carolina, a team who he never beat. Some immortal.

I am the inevitable erosion of will. The impending doom of consequence.

Wait, did Andy Demetra write this while playing with his Transformers? That would explain a lot.

I am the heart that pumps orange blood through your veins. 

You should get that checked out immediately.

Honestly, most of the script is just typical recycled bravado you find in any hype video produced by a grad student. (Although the paralyzing joy from California thing is just bizarre.) But it’s the voiceover that pretty much turns this video into a parody of other hype videos.

If you think we’re just being haters, we probably are just a little. But you know we hate Georgia, and they put together a ridiculously good set of hype videos this year.  Granted, they’re not designed to be played before the start of every game, but I’m sure if they have one they knocked it out of the park. They use great images combined with great scripts that aren’t overloaded with cliche’. And most importantly they use normal-sounding voices to bring life to the videos. Both South Carolina and Clemson could learn something from videos like this.

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2015 Gamecock Sports Goalolutions

My kingdom for a tournament bid.

My kingdom for a tournament bid.

OK, so I started this post as 2015 Gamecock Sports Resolutions, but they started sounding a lot like goals and not really resolutions. So like any good blogger I mashed up the two words into something terrible nobody will understand. Really these are part resolution, part goal, part wishful thoughts, and part uncategorized ramblings. But all those things would make the post title way too long, so bear with me here as I present this list of things I choose to attribute to Gamecock athletics in 2015:

FOOTBALL

Win 9 regular season games. Believe me when I tell you, this will be a tall task. With the offense more than likely taking a step back next year, the defense will have to make a miracle recovery for this to happen. Looking at the schedule I’m only counting five probable wins. With road games against UGA, Mizzou, TAMU, and Tennessee, and home dates against LSU, Florida and Clemson, I’m not sure where we’ll find the other four. Win those five gimmes and go 4-3 against the rest (with a win over Clemson) and we’ve got ourselves a spectacularly successful season.

Triple the 2014 sack total. Maybe an overreach, but our total of 12 sacks in 2014 was astoundingly low. Tripling our total would still only tie us for second in sacks in the SEC this past year. Doubling our total would only give us a tie for 9th in the league, so I’m shooting for the stars while keeping my feet on the ground.

Learn how to tackle. In the game of tackle football this is an essential skill to have, so we need to develop it. We had two players in the top 30 in tackles in the SEC this year – Skai Moore at 13 and T.J. Gurley at 15. Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee each had two players in the top 10. We need Moore and the fast-rising Jonathan Walton to be tackling machines next year and both finish in the top 10.

Hold opponents to less than 25 points per game and less than 175 rush yards per game. Reasonable, achievable, and necessary. This would likely move us into the top 10 in the league in both categories.

Develop a starting QB not named Pharoh Cooper. You all know we love Pharoh Cooper, but please stop floating the idea that he might be our starting QB next year. He will be the leading returning receiver in the SEC, and we need him at that position so bad it hurts. We need him there much more than we need him to be a full-time wildcat quarterback with bad mechanics and a below average throwing arm.

Connor Mitch, we’re looking at you.

Find a complement to Cooper at WR. Nick Jones and Shaq Roland will be gone, leaving little-used K.J. Brent and Shamier Jeffery as the leading returning wide receivers next to Cooper. One of those guys needs to emerge, along with at least one of our redshirted freshmen – Shaq Davidson, Deebo Samuel or Terry Googer.

Have two backs rush for more than 750 yards. I think at least one of either Brandon Wilds or David Williams can crack the 1000-yard barrier. But with Wilds’ penchant for getting dinged up, I think we’ll see more of a two-headed monster approach in 2015. (Love Williams BTW, think he is a star in the making.)

Return a kickoff for touchdown. If Shon Carson comes back and is still our primary returner, scratch this one.

BASKETBALL

Make a postseason tournament. At the beginning of the season the NIT seemed a reasonable goal. Two missteps in Charleston made us all wonder if even that was attainable. But the proverbial light seems to have come on for this team after the destruction of two pretty decent teams in Oklahoma State and Clemson. Now maybe an NCAA tournament birth is not so far out of reach after all?

It will still be an uphill climb for Frank Martin’s bunch. If they can keep playing at the level they have been playing, and Sindarius Thornwell starts playing like we know he can, they should finish somewhere between third and fifth in the SEC. Anything below third probably makes them a bubble team. But wouldn’t it be nice to watch on selection Sunday with a chance to play in the dance?

Put a player on the All-SEC first or second team. Second team is much more likely. The leading candidate right now? I think we all know it’s Duane Notice. Who had that in the betting pool in October?

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Final Four. Dawn Staley said it, the players have bought into it, so let’s do it. I certainly think we’re one of the top four teams in the country, but it will be interesting to see how our young players hold up to the SEC grind.

BASEBALL

Super Regional. The honeymoon is over for Chad Holbrook, and it’s time for the baseball team to take a step forward instead of another step back. If there is one area of South Carolina athletics where “good enough” is not good enough, it’s baseball. Holbrook is a great guy, and by all accounts a fantastic baseball man. But the shocking Regional loss to Maryland last year at home has stuck in the craw of Gamecock fans all offseason, and another exit like that could get the natives grumbling.

The preseason rankings don’t bode well for the Gamecocks (I’ve seen 21 in one poll), but we all know rankings are garbage at this stage. The talent is there to make a run if we can stay healthy, and we need to win back some of that CWS good will before Vanderbilt takes it all.

How about you, what would you like to see in 2015?

 

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Snap Judgments – 2014 Duck Commander Independence Bowl Edition

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Trophy or death machine? (Photo credit: wltx.com)

Some quick, barely researched, not fully-formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 24-21 DCI Bowl victory over Miami:

Happy Endings. There were so many things to be disappointed about in South Carolina’s 2014 season – a humiliating opening loss on the SEC Network, a maddeningly ineffective defense, fourth quarter collapses peppered throughout, our first loss to Clemson since 2008. None of those things were wiped away by our fourth consecutive bowl win yesterday. But it sure felt nice to end the season on a high note.

Yes, it was December 27. Yes, the game was in Shreveport. Yes, there was a (much) less than full stadium there to watch it. But judging by the smiles on the faces of Steve Spurrier and our players after the game, it was as important as any game we played this season. It was important to have a lasting memory of hoisting a trophy to close out 2014. It was important to send an extraordinary group of seniors out with a win. It was important to lay that first mental building block for 2015.

As frustrated as you and I have been throughout this season, I promise you it doesn’t come close to the frustration felt by those players and coaches. I’m both happy for and proud of them for going out with a win.

Pharoh. Speaking of 2015 building blocks, look no further than Pharoh Cooper as one of the cornerstones. Cooper woke up a slumbering offense with a 78-yard touchdown catch for USC’s first score, and went on to grab nine balls for 170 yards and the Independence Bowl MVP honor. He finished the season with 1136 yards receiving and will surely be first-team all-SEC heading into next season.

Hello defense. (Nice to see you. It’s been a long time.) In the first quarter it looked as if Miami’s Duke Johnson might be on his way to a record-setting day in the DCI Bowl. But embattled defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward and his defense made important stops to hold Miami to field goals early, then played just well enough in the third and fourth quarters to help secure the victory.

Skai Moore (defensive MVP) and the suddenly Urlacher-esque Jonathan Walton were outstanding at linebacker. If the help coming on the defensive line next year lives up to its billing, and some of our young DBs develop the way freshmen to sophomores should, the defense could be back to respectable (or even better!) next year.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes? To the dismay of many Gamecock fans, Steve Spurrier announced after the game that there would be no coaching staff changes until at least after signing day in February, and hinted there may be no staff changes at all.

“If something happens down the road and we can strengthen our staff somewhere, then, obviously, I have to look at that,” he said.

Team Thompson. I’ve pretty much defended Dylan Thompson in this space all season, so I guess I’ll do it one more time. Yesterday’s stat line: 22-34, 284 yards, 2 TDs passing, 1 TD rushing.

And yet, I still saw tweets complaining when Thompson threw into coverage or overthrew receivers. I made the mistake of visiting a message board last night and saw his game referred to as “garbage” and a couple of people saying they are glad he won’t be back next year.

Such is the life of a starting quarterback, I suppose. Just don’t forget Thompson set the record for most passing yards and completions in a season, and is second in TDs for a season.

I’m not advocating that Thompson is the greatest quarterback in Gamecock history by any stretch of the imagination. But he deserves a lot more respect than he’s gotten this year, both as a player and an ambassador for this program. If you don’t like the fact we went 7-6 as a TEAM, or his religious views, or his haircut, that’s fine, you are certainly entitled to your opinion.

But from a purely football standpoint, if you like USC football and you’re happy Dylan Thompson has played his last game in a Gamecock uniform, then I can only assume you are an idiot. At least from a football sense.

Snaps shut. This concludes Snap Judgments for 2014. I must admit, this has easily been the most difficult season since we started this blog in 2010. It’s easy to stay up late on Saturday or get up early before church on Sunday and write when you’re winning. It’s even fun.

When you’re losing though, and hooboy losing the way we lost some games this year, it can be pretty tough. But it can also be therapeutic, and it was many times over the course of the season. Thanks to everyone who came back week after week, it is very much appreciated.

So until next season, Go Cocks!

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TRC Unleashed Episode 74 – Serial Intro Edition

Happy Holidays Gamecock fans. Our Christmas gift to you is this podcast, because quite frankly we can’t afford something for all of you, even if we put a $10 limit on it. On this episode we discuss:

  • The Spurrier plan – retire in six days or five years?
  • We ain’t getting a new defensive coordinator.
  • Recruiting – calm down we’re fine no we’re not.
  • Shaw, Lattimore and…Chad Kelly?
  • Oran “Juice” Jones
  • Basketball!
  • Twitter questions and some Christmas trivia

For  you Serial podcast fans, hope you like the opening. Click here or click the graphic to listen, and enjoy!

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Losing Will: Disappointment, or Disaster?

hi-res-2996210a731944828b03df3d40d6a524_crop_northLet’s get my personal feelings out there first: I’m disappointed Will Muschamp is not coming to South Carolina to be our defensive coordinator. Not two-touchdown, fourth quarter lead blowing disappointed. Not losing to Clemson disappointed. Not Chick-fil-a forgot to put my fries in the bag disappointed. But disappointed nonetheless.

South Carolina football has been a wreck in 2014. The Gamecocks were picked to win the SEC East prior to the season but finished 6-6 and is headed to dreaded Shreveport for one final exercise in futility. Our defense is ranked near the bottom nationally and is the worst we’ve seen in Columbia since the 90s. Recruits have flipped, with threats of more flipping to come. Steve Spurrier seems disengaged, distant, lost. Things feel very, very bad for the program at the moment.

Change is needed, no doubt. And I think any amount of change from Spurrier stepping down to some minor staff adjustments is still on the table. I’m personally hoping for something somewhere in the middle. We need a new person running the defense at minimum.

But in reality I have no idea what is going to happen. And unless you are Steve Spurrier or Ray Tanner neither do you. We are mostly at the mercy of sites like The Big Spur or Gamecock Central, where we pay $9.95 a month to have them tell us everything and nothing all at the same time. They do a good job at both places, with good people working their asses off to get scoop to us that nobody else can. But at the end of the day they’re mostly subject to second hand information, and have to try to read between the lines to figure out what’s really going on and pass along that information to us with disclaimers peppered throughout. (Then there’s the Scout site who, damn the torpedoes, ran with one unreliable source and goodbye business plan.)

And message boards, hoo boy the message boards. The guy who knows the guy who is a realtor who knows another realtor who was helping Muschamp close on his new Columbia house. The words “done deal” associated with Muschamp over and over by people with anonymous screen names. Message boards are never more toxic than times like this.

But let’s step back and try to understand what has gone on since the end of November in regards to Muschamp.

  • After Clemson the HBC told us that everyone on his staff was safe. He did not say there wouldn’t be changes, he just said he wouldn’t be firing anyone.
  • I think we can safely say Will Muschamp was pursued by USC. How hard – how much money he was offered, what title he would’ve been given – is very much up for debate.
  • There were reports early that he would be offered a head-coach-in-waiting title. This was eventually de-bunked, I think, by Ray Tanner himself.
  • Spurrier said more than once that he hadn’t talked to Muschamp, and no offer had been made to Muschamp.
  • Muschamp was linked to us, Auburn, Texas A&M, Houston, and the NFL before ultimately choosing Auburn.

Do we really know much more than this? Yet people are screaming that Tanner and Spurrier botched this, that they didn’t work hard enough, are blind to our problems or aren’t committed to fixing them, etc.

Hogwash.

If it required a head-coach-in-waiting title to get Will Muschamp to USC, then I’m perfectly fine that we didn’t get him. I personally am not so desperate for something to happen that I’m willing to put a band-aid on a gaping wound.

Muschamp is a fine defensive mind by all accounts, one of the best in the college game. He wouldn’t have gotten the Florida job if he wasn’t. But need I remind you what happened to him at Florida, a failed tenure that ended just two weeks ago? Florida fans were begging for him to be fired. According to them he was a bumbling, meme-inspiring doofus that didn’t deserve to be on the sidelines at The Swamp. Would it really make you feel comfortable to have that guy in line as your next head coach?

Now people are acting like our football Jesus has forsaken us because our administration is either too stupid or doesn’t care enough. I’m not buying it.

If we made an offer to Muschamp, it was to to become our defensive coordinator/assistant head coach probably in the neighborhood of $1.2 to $1.6 million per year if I had to guess. Auburn offered roughly the same thing, and there was no chance in hell he was going to choose us over Auburn for a defensive coordinator position, for a variety of reasons.

I’m hoping beyond hope there’s a plan B in the works, and I’m confident there is. It won’t be as sexy as hiring Muschamp, but pretty much anything is a step in the right direction. Being patient is not easy, but I don’t really have a choice, do I?

Since the majority of you reading this are capable adults I’m in no position to tell you how you should react to this situation. Be disappointed, be devastated, it’s your call.

I’m gonna go have a cup of coffee and watch some cartoons. Maybe later I’ll check a couple of message boards.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Foto Friday: Things Dabo Cares About More Than Deshaun Watson’s Knees Edition

A list of twenty four things Dabo Swinney apparently cares about more than the long term health of his star football player, Deshaun Watson.

1. Primal Scream Therapy

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2.  Pleated Front No Iron Cotton Dockers (TM):

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3.  Pointing at things:

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4.  Funny hats:

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5.  The start of fall practice:

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6. Eavesdropping on other guys coaching football:

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7. Simultaneously drinking a Coke Zero and holding a helmet while getting a belly rub:

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8. The Front Piggyback:

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9.  That girl named Vicki in 10th grade science class.  She was really cool.  I think she moved or something:

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10.  The Bros always being there for you:

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11.  The Double Fist Pump:

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12.  Reminiscing about college days during a sleepover at Mom’s:

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13. Speed limit immunity:

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14. Golden showers:

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14.  Fruit:

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15.  The little front pocket you can improvise right behind your belt and above your junk:

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16.  Close talking:

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17.  The Big Three:  Gum, Whistle, and Important-looking-card-that-is-actually-a-grocery-list:

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18.  Stuffed animals:

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19.  The Original Fatz Triple Threat Sampler Platter (TM):

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22.  Carefully choreographed vignettes that suggest a faithful loyalty that gullible fans will fervently believe:

 

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21.  What this guy thinks about the job you are doing:

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22.  Finally getting a win against South Carolina:

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23. Job Security:

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24.  William Christopher Swinney:

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Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments