Monthly Archives: August 2010

Depth Chart: A Graphic Explanation

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Breaking News: TRC to Remain Free

In light of The State newspaper’s decision to “move to a membership model” (aka charge you for what you are currently getting for free) at, The Rubber Chickens thought it would be a good time to reassure our readers we have no immediate plans to charge membership fees for our web content.  As always, when you visit TRC you will get , absolutely free of charge:

- NO inside information

- NO breaking news

- NO recruiting gurus

- A bevvy of smarta** comments

- Television, movie, and music reviews during the off season.

- A contributor with a superfluous nipple (actually TWO superfluous nipples)

- Free candy (we’re still working on this)

Plus many, many other non-member benefits.  All we ask for is your continued patronage.  Or not, we’re really only doing this for our own nacissistic pleasure. 

Thank you!

The Rubber Chickens Staff

Number Association Countdown – #6 – Tommy Beecher

With due respect to two guys that were more from “my era”, Norman Greene and Mike Dingle, our starting quarterback entering the 2008 season came to mind first.

Tommy Beecher came out of high school with basically no star rating and exactly two scholarship offers, South Carolina and Richmond.  We were told Steve Spurrier liked his skills, and to Beecher’s credit he did have quite a  remarkable high school career.  But Richmond?  Something seemed amiss.

Beecher redshirted in ’05, then threw it around a little in some mop-up duty in ’06 and ’07.  Then, against seemingly long odds, in ’08 he was named the starter heading into the NC State game after a close battle with Chris Smelley.

The NC State game was a nightmare for Beecher.  He was pounded by the State defense from the get-go, and his confidence melted away before our eyes.  Even watching on television, you could see in his body language he wanted to be somewhere else.  Somewhere safe, away from the screaming fans and national television audience.

Before coming out in the third quarter, he had thrown for a little over 100 yards, but had thrown four interceptions.  You don’t throw four interceptions in a little over two quarters and remain Steve Spurrier’s quarterback.  You just don’t.

Chris Smelley strolled in and promptly took the starter’s job that night.  By the end of the season, Beecher, the former starting quarterback at the University of South Carolina, was running the scout team.  After the team’s bowl game he was “encouraged” to continue his career elsewhere.

Beecher transferred to Liberty for his senior season and won the starting job there.  He started the first game in a big time environment against West Virginia in Morgantown and played well.  In looking at Liberty stats from last year, it appears Beecher had a very nice final season with the Flames.

Say it IS so, Joe

News came this week that The State’s Gamecock beat writer Joe Person has been fired promoted reassigned to The Charlotte Observer to cover the Carolina Panthers.  After a couple of hours of celebratory toasting, we here at TRC decided to offer Panther fans an introduction to the experience that is Joe Person.  Accordingly:

Panther fans, be advised of the impending hair gel shortage that will soon strike the Greater Charlotte/Rock Hill metro area.  While it will be hard to attribute this market fluctuation entirely to Joe’s arrival, we do note that AXE Pro Style Flex Gel became impossible to find in Columbia after Person joined the local paper.  In a related matter, you will soon find yourself discussing the adult male fauxhawk, and whether it can be worn by any grown man, even if intended as an ironic symbol of futility.

Spurrier warming up. Person maxing out. (photo courtesy, The State)

Secondly, stock up on anti-depressants.  The visual equivalent of hearing Person talk is seeing week old puppies sent to the gas chamber.  Person sounds like Eeyor from Winnie the Pooh, except 75% more depressed.  He makes Steven Wright look like Richard Simmons. 

Also, you will soon know more about player injuries than you ever thought possible.  You will learn next to nothing about strengths, weaknesses, backgrounds, or motivations of Panther players, but if one of them misses a rep at practice, Dr. Person will comment on it.  He will also ask about the player’s condition as soon as the coach takes a post-practice question, and will follow up with another question about when the player will return, how the absence will impact the game plan, and if the coaches are reevaluating the practice regime in light of the injury.

Along those lines, you will soon learn that Person is the master of the leading question.  Instead of asking a player about an upcoming game or practice, etc., Joe will ask a question with a yes or no answer, and then cut off the player if he tries to explain.  This tactic allows Joe to continue whatever storyline he is already pushing while remaining unmolested by cumbersome facts.  It also insures that the fans learn next to nothing about their favorite team.  Oh, and by the way, the leading question is usually negative, as in “Did you get hurt today in practice, or are you just unmotivated because of your personal issues with your position coach?”

Your coaching staff is about to get grumpier, less responsive to the public, and more motivated to quickly leave the employ of your organization.  Why?  See above.

Since you are fans of a professional sports team, you will be unencumbered by Joe’s apparent NCAA investigation fetish.  However, Panther players should be warned now – if they have an alcohol problem, painkiller addiction, domestic abuse record, or grandmother who hasn’t paid their note at the assisted living facility, it will be uncovered by Det. Person.  How the Panthers game plan for Roddy White or if they plan to rotate quarterbacks is, however, beneath his notice (understanding?). 

Cheers, Charlotte!  Your best bet is that Joe is quickly fired promoted reassigned to Greensboro’s News &  Observer.

Number Association Countdown – #7 – Mike Rathe

Like all of you, prior to every football season I check our schedule to make my own determination of wins, losses and toss-ups.  And every year we’ve been in the SEC, I have come to the name Kentucky and thought “win”.  For ten straight years, I’ve been right, which is more than I can say about Vanderbilt.

But if not for #7 on the Number Association Countdown, that streak would’ve come to an end in 2004.

The ‘Cocks were 4-2 heading into Commonwealth Stadium that year, facing off against a 1-4 UK squad.  Starting QB Dondrial Pinkins was out with a bum shoulder, and mid-way though the second quarter, backup Syvelle Newton sprained his ankle.  Redshirt freshman Blake Mitchell was mildly terrible in Newton’s stead, and Kentucky took a 7-6 lead late into the fourth quarter.

With a little over six minutes left, Lou Holtz inserted seldom used JUCO transfer Mike Rathe.  Rathe marched the Gamecocks into field goal range with a little over a minute left.  On 3rd and 10 from the Kentucky 19, Rathe rolled to his right, and doing his best Joe Montana lofted a pass to the back of the end zone just before stepping out of bounds.  Troy Williamson snatched the ball out of the air and came down in bounds with the go-ahead TD.  The defense held Kentucky on four straight plays, and we escaped with an ugly, ugly win.

Rathe applied for a sixth year of eligibility in 2005, and many thought he would be a strong contender for the starting job in Steve Spurrier’s first year.  But alas, in their infinite wisdom the NCAA felt it was time for Mike Rathe to move on, and he did.  Rathe played a little Arena League II, but currently his whereabouts are unknown.  At least by me.

Coming Attractions: Gamecock Best Case/Worst Case Breakdowns

Head’s up!  On Monday TRC will be starting our Game Week features for Week 1.  We won’t be doing lame predictions (yet) or position by position breakdowns telling you why our running backs get the proverbial check mark over USM’s linebackers.  We’ll leave that to the half million other blogs you visit during the work day from your cozy office, cube or Wi-Fi hot spot.

Instead we’ll be continuing in TRC’s grand tradition of unique features  like the Number Association Countdown and the Sunday Night Snark by presenting a feature we like to call the Best Case/Worst Case Breakdown.  We’ll be going over the best and worst case scenarios for each of USC’s positions for the upcoming season.  We’ll make you feel really good about our team, and then immediately turn around and make you feel anxious and miserable.  You’re gonna love it.

On Monday I’ll cover offense, Tuesday T-bone will take defense, and on Wednesday G-man will cover by far the least important and therefore last of the three phases of game, special teams.  (Bah, kickers, who needs ‘em.)

Only one week to go until football season, can you dig it?

Number Association Countdown – #8 – Teddy Crawford

In case you missed the origin of the Number Association Countdown, you can find it here.  The reason I bring it up is to defend myself for #8.  Here is what I wrote back then:

There’s no rhyme of reason to the selection, it’s basically the first person that pops in my head when I think of the number.

So former Gamecock DB Teddy Crawford pops in my head.  Not Fred Bennett or Colin Mackie or even someone more recent like Larry Freeman.  And my single specific memory of Mr. Crawford is not a good one.  It was a Thursday night game at Arkansas a few years ago.  We got spanked, Demetris Summers got carried off on a stretcher, and Teddy gave us this gem:

Arkansas has a slim lead and the ball in Gamecock territory with the game still very much in doubt.  The Hog QB drops back, looks left and fires a pass towards his WR about 20 yards downfield.  The pass has absolutely no zip on it, and Crawford breaks on it perfectly.  He has nothing, and I mean nothing, but green grass in front of him.  But the ball goes right…through…his…hands.  As if that’s not bad enough, the tipped ball floats through the air and is snatched by the intended target.  The Arkansas WR strolls into the end zone, and we never recover.

I’m not sure who I feel sorrier for that I remember that so well, me or Teddy.

Number Association Countdown – #9 – Todd Ellis

Ah, yes, The Todd.  For you youngsters that only know him as the South Carolina football play-by-play man, don’t judge him on that.  He was once a pretty good football player.

(This is all from memory, so feel free to correct me on details, but…)

Ellis came to USC out of Page High School in Greensboro, NC, as the #1 high school quarterback prospect in the country.  Legend has it that on his recruiting trip to USC, Joe Morrison and some other coaches took Ellis to the USC press box and played a  mock radio broadcast of him orchestrating a final touchdown drive as the Gamecocks beat #1 ranked Nebraska.  As Bob Fulton called the game-winning touchdown pass, Ellis, in his excitement, stood up a high-fived everyone in the room.  He committed on the spot.

He had a rough first year as a starter, mainly because of a brutal schedule.  The 1986 Gamecocks finished 3-6-2.  But the next year, my freshman year at USC, they went 8-4, riding a rabid Joe Lee Dunn defense and offensive weapons Ellis, Harold Green, and Sterling Sharpe.  I’ve always contended that was the best Gamecock team ever, with narrow losses at Georgia, Nebraska and Miami (FL), before a blowout loss to LSU in the Gator Bowl.  The crown jewel of the season was a 20-7 spanking of a nationally ranked Clemson team on ESPN.

In 1988 Ellis led USC to a blistering 6-0 start, only to fall flat on their faces against what appeared to be a vastly inferior Georgia Tech squad 34-0.  A humiliating 59-0 loss to Florida State on ESPN was followed by losses to Clemson and then Indiana in the Liberty Bowl.

Joe Morrison passed away that winter of a heart attack, and Sparky Woods was hired.

Ellis never seemed that comfortable outside the run and shoot offense, but still played relatively well in 1989.  In the season’s eighth game, an NC State defender crashed into Ellis’ knee, and that was the end of his South Carolina career.

Ellis never quite lived up to expectations, mainly due to his penchant for throwing interceptions.  But nonetheless, he held most Carolina passing records until Steve Taneyhill came along, and still holds quite a few.

Personally, my memories of Ellis as a football player are good ones.  In those days under Morrison we were the renegades, not afraid to take on anyone, and Todd was our leader.  No, we didn’t play by the rules, and it wound up hurting our program.  But with 20+ years gone by, I can say in retrospect, we sure had some fun.

Now, about that broadcasting thing…

In Defense of Hyperbole

Hyperbole lies, but not so as to intend to deceive by lying. . . . It is in common use, as much among the unlearned as among the learned; because there is in all men a natural propensity to magnify or extenuate what comes before them, and no one is contented with the exact truth. But such departure from the truth is pardoned, because we do not affirm what is false.
(Institutes of Oratory, A.D. 95)

How many of us have resorted to hyperbole to make a point? ‘This bag weighs a ton,’ or ‘I’m about to fall over dead’ are common expressions, and convey meaning in a concise and easy to understand fashion. No one takes these saying literally, and no one is offended by their frequent usage.

Always a Step Ahead of You

To pick another example – completely at random, mind you – we have CTU Head Coach Dabo Swinney’s recent assertion that Sophomore QB Kyle Parker is better than many starters in the NFL. Of course he wasn’t serious. Of course he was purposefully using a rhetorical device in make a point. We don’t take asinine statements such as these seriously, because we all recognize that the statement is false on its face.

Let me illustrate:

If I said that Dabo Swinney was an ignoramus, you might think I was asserting a truth. But if I am merely trying to make a point with rhetorical flair, I might be suggesting something less than his complete and utter buffoonery.

If I asserted that the entire history of Tiger football is defined by mediocrity, that their supposed tradition consists only of distant and ill-gotten victories won at the expense of institutional honesty and fair competition, then you will quickly forgive, because I might only be making a dramatic point.

Or if I suggested that the entire CTU football program is based on smoke and mirrors, that at its very core it is a grandiose and vapid lie, then you won’t be upset, because you will recognize that I may be speaking hyperbolically.

Or maybe, just maybe, Dabo was serious.

And maybe I am as well.

Number Association Countdown – #10 – Blake Williamson

Blake Williamson came into his redshirt freshman season in 1992 season as a backup to senior Wright Mitchell.  Mitchell started the first four games, all losses, then gave way to Williamson, who then gave way to some long-haired Yankee that re-wrote half the Carolina record book.

Williamson still saw a considerable amount of action even after Taneyhill took over, mostly in red zone situations.  He scored a critical late TD against Vanderbilt in 1992, but will mostly be remembered for a little piece of razzle dazzle on a soggy night in Baton Rouge in 1994 when he took a throwback pass for a touchdown in that victory.  (See “Trickery against LSU” clip; hat tip to Cockytalk.)


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