Snap Judgments – Coastal Carolina @ USC Edition

King Tuttchdown (photo courtesy of thestate.com)
King Tuttchdown (photo courtesy of thestate.com)

Some short, quick, barely researched, not fully formed thoughts from South Carolina’s 70-10 victory over Coastal Carolina on Saturday:

Breather. For once it was nice to sit back and not stress over a South Carolina football game while it was actually being played. After Coastal Carolina’s first offensive play, a 25-yard completion, the game was thoroughly dominated by the Gamecocks. I think we all felt a little wary of the 10-1 Chanticleers and thought they might be able to hang around for a while. But fortunately we were able to pull away early, rest some starters, and reward some walk-ons for their hard work during practice.

Shaw me your wins. Connor Shaw became the all-time winningest quarterback at USC with his 25th win as a starter, passing Todd Ellis’ old mark. What makes the record even more impressive is Shaw reached that win total in 30 starts, while it took Ellis 43. (In the defense of all our signal callers prior to Shaw, he has had much better teams around him.)

I believe #14 will ultimately be remembered as the quarterback who bridged the era where we hoped for 6-7 wins, to the one where we expect 10 wins.

Team Dylan. Dylan Thompson looked very sharp yesterday, which was encouraging. He has had a couple of mediocre outings this year, but he looked confident on the field yesterday, and the ball was coming off his hand like a laser. That Dylan is the guy who makes me optimistic for 2014. 

Into the Wilds. Another guy who looked like he had something to prove was Brandon Wilds. After missing the last few weeks with a dislocated elbow, he appeared absolutely thrilled to be back on the field, and gives us a back-up to Mike Davis who can break tackles and get the extra yards we need in short yardage situations. I believe he has been missed more than we realize.

And while on the subject of running backs, I realize it was Coastal Carolina and we won by 60, but Jamari Smith looked very good in rushing for 103 yards yesterday.

King Tuttchdown. Steve Spurrier has seemed enamored with Pharoh Cooper since he arrived on campus, and now we know why. I’ve said since the first time I saw him on the field he reminded me of Randall Cobb, and he did his best Randall Cobb impersonation yesterday. Cooper had 168 total yards and two touchdowns – a spectacular diving catch and a 71-yard run out of the Wildcat. You have to wonder how much he will be utilized in the final 2 (or 3) games of this season, but you can rest assured he will be a major part of the offensive game plan in 2014.

Numbers game. As I mentioned above, another benefit to the blowout is the HBC was able to get a lot of players on the field we don’t typically get to see. I haven’t seen how many players took snaps yesterday, but there were a lot of names and numbers I had never seen running around at the W-B yesterday. Good for those guys, that’s a memory that will last a lifetime.

Wild Wild East. Texas A&M is now South Carolina’s last hope to make it to the SEC Championship Game after Missouri disposed of an inept Ole Miss squad last night. The Rebels shot themselves in the foot multiple times, but Mizzou seemed to be toying with them at times. Our overtime win at CoMo looks better every week.

Hate Week. Well, it’s here, and I have absolutely no idea what to expect next Saturday night. But I do expect some interesting quotes this week, and Vic Hampton and Brandon Wilds got things kicked off in yesterday’s post game:

Should be a fun week.

GO COCKS, BEAT THE HELL OUT OF THOSE TIGERS!

Signing Day Eve: A Meditation on Orange

20110409_springfootball07_t300The year was 2008, and an upstart wide receiver coach and recruiting coordinator had just been promoted to the top football job at Clemson Tiger University. Many scratched their heads upon hearing that Tommy Bowden had been replaced with the young, inexperienced, Dabo Swinney. Once Coach Swinney’s maudlin antics and non sequiturs were quickly made manifest, others predicted his certain demise.

But as strange as he may have acted, and as juvenile and forced as his persona, Dabo could still recruit. That trait was his key asset. He had a manner of speaking that resonated with 17 year olds, and a background in sales, so when he pulled off a football victory over South Carolina in one of his first games as a head coach, many of the Tiger faithful thought they had the total package.

Fresh off the victory over the Gamecocks, Swinney began assembling his first recruiting class. Limited in numbers by a small group of graduating seniors, Dabo assembled twelve recruits that he dubbed “The Dandy Dozen” and then pronounced them the future of Clemson football excellence.

“We aren’t worried about players that went to other schools, we could have taken more. But these are our guys and we are proud of them.”

“The grass is greener in Clemson,” he said on that first signing day.

Now, four long year later, most of those players are gone.

Two left school as underclassmen. Of the remaining ten, only a handful were major contributors. Tajh Boyd, Malliciah Goodman, and Brandon Thomas all made meaningful contributions on the ACC level of play.

But they never beat South Carolina. Not once. Now Tajh still has the hope of squeaking out on victory in his final, redshirt senior year, but other than that possibility, The Dandy Dozen have turned out to be a goose egg.

Let that sink in for a minute: Tajh Boyd, the headliner of the 2009 class, may well spend 5 years with the Tigers and never beat South Carolina.

It goes further, actually. The guys from Tommy Bowden’s highly ranked 2008 class that redshirted their first year (like Andre Ellington, Dalton Freeman, and Jonathan Willard) exhausted their eligibility without ever playing a single snap in a win against Carolina.

More? The 2010 recruits still haven’t done it either. Some of them, like Joe Craig, found a way off the team early (his first choice, a metal rod used against a female, didn’t work, so he resorted to drug use). And one other, Deandre “Nuke” Hopkins, opted for the NFL before ever beating the Gamecocks.

What does this have to do with recruiting, you ask?

It reminds us all to calm the hell down.  Recruiting isn’t the end-all-be-all we try to make it out to be.

Approach National Signing Day with tranquility, Gamecocks.  Because whatever babbling nonsense about football excellence that may come out of the upstate tomorrow, whatever the final rankings may be on Thursday, our guys are better than their guys. We’ve proved it. And without nearly as much recruiting hype.

It’s the X’s and the O’s, not the Jimmys and the Joes. And the guy doing our X’s and our O’s is demonstrably superior to the guy they have cheerleading for them.

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UPDATE: I just looked at the latest recruiting rankings, and our class is rated ahead of theirs, so please disregard everything I just said.

RECRUITING IS KING! ! !

We Have No Objection, Your Honor.

Have you ever been in a courtroom to watch a guilty plea hearing? It’s a tension-filled environment, and for many reasons. But I can tell you from personal experience (as a PROFESSIONAL – geeze, people!) that much of the tension felt by the participants is that some other participant will go off-script and annoy the judge. The prosecutor is worried about law enforcement, the defense attorney is worried about his client, and both are worried that the victim might sound off at the wrong time. All these concerns are based on hard experience won from similar past events, where someone speaks out of turn and the judge rejects the deal that everyone worked so long and hard to reach.

And so it is after this weekend, which saw the HBC, Dr. Pastides, and the-guy-who-hires-and-fires-the-men’s-basketball-coach all fly out to the golden hills of Los Angeles to appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions. The Gamecock delegation was summoned to explain to the higher-ups just how several of our football players could have possibly negotiated leases at a local apartment complex, and how an alumnus could dare to go to work for a not-for-profit that helps young basketball hopefuls.

By all accounts Carolina had an impressive package deal worked out, which would see us fall on our swords and admit wrongdoing, pay a fine, cut a couple/three scholarships, and promise to . . . I don’t know here, maybe not let our players sign apartment leases or not let the private companies that own those lease get lax if someone misses a payment, or maybe prohibit our graduates from going on to work with at-risk youth.

Regardless, the collective wisdom out there on the internet strongly recommends that we all hold our tongues (or keyboards, or whatever) and hope that we don’t inadvertently say something that will anger the NCAA. The governing body is just itching to slam us, I guess, and we would all be wise to avoid giving them an excuse. So, I won’t go off-script. I won’t put the deal at risk.

 Y’all can all relax.

 I won’t suggest that the entire investigation was a stinking pile of dog poo trumped up by a local sports reporter high on hair gel. I promise, I won’t.

And I won’t even point out the bitter irony that we are currently on probation for improperly tutoring (yes, that’s right) prospective student athletes while one of our conference foes suffered no admonition when it recently won a coveted BCS crystal with a player that was widely recognized as having been bought by the highest bidder.

 I won’t point out to the NCAA that the fact they know EXACTLY what and whom I was alluding to in the above-paragraph is just another example of how feckless and annoying their whole system of justice is. I won’t even go there.

I will absolutely refrain from rehashing all the evidence that Clemson Tiger University, a football program built on open and blatant paying of players, is still paying players getting wads of cash from rich aunts winning the lottery on NSD just foolin with around with money and a camera today with no apparent negative attention.

I won’t dare point out that the most storied programs out there – the Bama’s and the Miami’s and the Southern Cal’s – all seem to cheat at every turn, and when the stench of their abuses finally grows so distinct that even the NCAA overlords can’t blame it on the dog any longer, the punishments that are handed down don’t seem to put a dent in the strange competitive advantages those schools enjoy.

I won’t call the system a joke, or the penalties asininely inconsistent.

No, I’ll just keep my head down, stay on the script, and hope the judge accepts the deal.

Brent Musburger is a Gangsta, and Other Things I Learned on Labor Day

Takeaways from the Virginia Tech / Boise State clash?
Well, I could comment on how Nike Pro Combat is ruining the college game (You got your Tron Convention in my Football!). Or I could lament the fact that an early season victory against a spastic ACC foeapparently qualifies you to play in a BCS bowl. Or I could note that Special Teams are to Beamerballas a Wahl Groomsman Eliteis to Gman’sbodyhair (used to be integral, but are now woefully neglected).
But I won’t mention any of those things (wait. .), because the biggest bombshell from the Labor Day telecast of the Hokiesand the Broncos was commentator Brent Musberger and his unnoticed-until-now thug-life bona fides.
A sampling ofquotes from Big B to illustrate:

- Time to roll ’em up, pardner, time to roll ’em up
- Boise State is gonna burn one, and then we’ll be right back!
- Its that hash again, the hash alwaysgets him.
And then finally,to underscorethat Brent is street (and you better recognize it):
- Kill Shot, that was the Kill Shot
I’m not sure what was going on. Was Musburgertrying to stay young, hip, and relevent, oris he in on the joke andhaving a little fun with us?
Or maybe, just maybe, it was sports commentary as performance art, and he was seeking to draw our attention to the disparity between the designer suits upin the air-conditionedpress boxand the sweating hordes (disproportionately minority at that) in the corporate-sponsoredgladiator match below.
Or maybe, Brent Mushburger is justa gangsta.