NOTE: This post can also be found on the excellent SEC blog: Saturday Down South
#1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.
The 3:30 CBS game.
The second Saturday in October.
Isn’t this precisely what we brought Steve Spurrier to South Carolina for? To make us relevant nationally? To compete for SEC Championships?
Now I’m not nearly naïve enough to think ESPN and CBS are setting up shop in Columbia because of us. The love Alabama has been getting over the last few months is bordering on Tebow-esque. But this is our opportunity to MAKE it about us. This is our opportunity to announce the University of South Carolina has arrived, not just on the Southeastern Conference scene, but on the national scene.
On offense, Alabama has the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. (And some say his back-up is better.) They have a quarterback who has never lost a meaningful football game. They lead the SEC averaging 38 points per game. You want balance? They are third in the SEC in both passing and rushing yards per game.
The good news is the defense has nine new starters. The bad news is those new starters are part of defense that leads the league in points allowed per game at 9.
There is no question Alabama has more talent than South Carolina, plus they have arguably the best head coach in the country.
I don’t think I’m out of line when I say Spurrier’s tenure at South Carolina has been mildly disappointing. Don’t give me the “perspective” argument, because simply winning more games than you lose and going to third-tier bowls is not acceptable any more to South Carolina fans, and I think Spurrier would agree. Spurrier’s legacy has taken a hit with his failure with the Redskins and inability to move the Gamecocks into the upper echelon of the SEC. He’s no longer the “Evil Genius”, he’s just the “Head Ball Coach”.
But on Saturday, all that can be turned around over the course of three hours. If he can put together a superior game plan, if his players can execute, and if we can walk out of Williams Brice with a win over Alabama, people will be talking about the genius of Steve Spurrier anew.
“The NFL was a bad fit,” they’ll say. “It just took a little more time than he thought it would at South Carolina,” they’ll say. “If he can win THERE…” they’ll say.
If we lose it won’t be the end of the world. It won’t even be the end of our shot at the SEC East title. But it will be the same old, same old. Big game, big stage, blew it, move on.
However, Saturday’s game will be monumental if we win. Maybe even the biggest in our program’s history.
This is the moment we paid Steve Spurrier for. Here’s hoping he can resurrect the Evil Genius.