Snap Judgments – Eastern Illinois @ USC Edition

Photo courtesy of

Welcome back to Snap Judgments, where we give only cursory thought to what we’re about to say before we say it. Today we look at South Carolina’s 46-0 win over Eastern Illinois.

Beamer Y’all. From the time he was introduced as the new head football coach at South Carolina, Shane Beamer has felt like the right man for the job. Despite his lack of head coaching experience, he came in with an energy and passion for the job – and not just a head coaching job, THIS job – that has won over the fan base. He understands the importance of public relations in his position, and has “won” every press conference and media session he’s had to date, which in turn has endeared him to the Gamecock fan base. The million dollar question remains – is he a good enough football coach to lead this program back to relevance, and possibly even compete for championships?

I don’t think we got our answer last night against a pretty putrid Eastern Illinois team from the FCS. But as far as tests go against putrid teams from the FCS, I’d say we passed with flying colors. The offense, defense, and special teams were good enough to make this game a laugher before halftime. EIU was the perfect opening opponent for a team and a fan base scarred by the Muschamp era, an era that divided the program and the fan base, an era defined by antiquated decisions on the field, and an era that made us wonder how long it would be before we would ever be competitive again.

There’s an old saying “it’s the hope that kills you”. In a recent episode of the fantastic TV series Ted Lasso the lead character says, “I disagree, it’s the lack of hope that comes and gets you.” At the end of the Muschamp era that lack of hope was killing us all.

I have no idea where the Shane Beamer era will take us, but one thing he has done has reinstilled that hope in all of us. And I dont’ know about you, but that’s good enough for me right now.

Zeb’s not dead, baby, Zeb’s not dead. The most fascinating national story surrounding USC last night was the ascension of Zeb Noland from graduate assistant coach to the starting job in the season opener. To hear anyone outside of South Carolina tell it, we plucked some 37-year old finanacial planner from behind his desk at BB&T because we were so desperately thin at quarterback. I mean, we were desperately thin don’t get me wrong, but we had the good fortune of being able to turn to a guy who was a starter for two schools, and when he wasn’t a starter played behind a first-round draft pick in Trey Lance and a future NFL quarterback in Brock Purdy.

Noland’s final numbers (13 of 22, 121 yards) won’t get him on any Heisman watch lists, but his four first half touchdowns were pretty impressive for a guy who had basically retired from football. Hopefully Luke Doty returns next week against East Carolina, but it’s good to know we have a steady hand like Noland if we need him.

The Stable. The Gamecocks were able to run for 258 yards without all-SEC running back Kevin Harris taking a snap. ZaQuandre White led the way with 12 carries for 128 yards, and redshirt freshman MarShawn Lloyd and true freshman Juju McDowell both showed flashes in their debuts in the garnet and black. This may be the most talented running back room we’ve had since…heck, I don’t know when.

Jordan Rules. Jordan Burch had the standout play of the night when he picked off an Eastern Illinois pass and returned it 61 yards for the Gamecocks’ final score of the night. Defensive linemen return passes for touchdowns every week, but I honestly can’t think of a DL I’ve ever seen look so comfortable and smooth with the ball in his hands.

Beamer Ball II. Are we in a new era of special teams excellence at South Carolina? It sure looked like it last night as the ‘Cocks blocked two punts, which were two more than we blocked all of last year. We also came close on two more. The cool part is you could tell the coaching staff had watched EIU film and know how to exploit their punt formation.

The bad and the ugly. We get accused of being negative when we’re not always positive, so to stay on brand we’ll just point out a few areas of concern we saw in real time last night. One, the offensive line was inconsistent at best. Yes, we finished with more than 250 yards rushing and I don’t recall us giving up a sack, but too many times the undersized EIU DL were in our backfield too easily. That won’t fly against the likes of Georgia. Two, we had too many penalties. I’m hoping we can chalk some of these to overexuberance, but if Beamer truly wants to “look like a well coached team” we can’t be shooting ourselves in the foot so much. And finally, we simply don’t seem to have any breakthrough talent at wide receiver, which means…

Ring my Bell, I’ll be your Muse. Jaheim Bell and Nick Muse both looked like real difference makers on offense, and we’re going to need them to be all year long.

Clemson lost. Clemson lost.

Looking ahead. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, East Carolina is going to be a real test next week. Last night was a mere glimpse into what kind of team we are going to be in 2021, next week in Greenville will tell us if our optimism is warranted, or if we’re in for a long season.

Go Cocks.

Buckshots: 1988 Gamecock Flashback

This series of audio blog posts recapping every season since 1987 were originally posted prior to the 2013 season and are sponsored by our friends at Blue Moon Disk.

The 1988 Gamecock football season was one of the more eventful in our program’s history, and not for good reasons.

In a 10-day stretch our 6-0 and eighth-ranked Gamecocks lost on the road to a 1-4 Georgia Tech team, and a few days later a huge steroid scandal was exposed at USC by Sports Illustrated. The story of Tommy Chaikin can be found here, and I encourage you to read it if you never have. The future of South Carolina football was very much in doubt, in our minds if not in reality, during that time.

After a late season swoon (sound familiar?) that included a 59-0 loss to Florida State, a loss at Clemson, and a loss to Indiana in the Liberty Bowl, we thought we would have a respite from bad football news for a while. Unfortunately, that was far from the case.

Head Coach Joe Morrison died tragically after playing racquetball at Williams-Brice Stadium on February 6, 1989. Not only was this a huge blow to the University, it also happened THREE DAYS before National Signing Day. Within two weeks Sparky Woods was hired from Appalachian State to try to put the pieces back together.

I’m trying to keep these flashbacks short and concise – under 10 minutes, but this one does run long because so much happened in 1988. (Plus I bore you with a couple of personal stories.)

Oh, and on a side note, the music in each Buckshots will come from the year we are featuring. I’m sure you recognize both songs so far, 1987 was “Walk Like and Egyptian” by The Bangles, and in the this episode we have “Faith” by George Michael. (Don’t judge, I’m just trying to give you a flavor of the time!)

Click here or click the graphic to listen. Enjoy!


The Legacy of Connor Shaw

Florida v South Carolina

Steve Spurrier has done wonders for the University of South Carolina football program, becoming the winningest coach in school history and guiding the team to 40 wins (and counting) the last four years. The complaints about the HBC have been few and far between recently, but one of the primary knocks on Spurrier in his nine years as head coach at the University of South Carolina has been this:

His inability to bring an elite high school quarterback into the program.

It has been perplexing, one of the great offensive minds in the history of college football unable to bring in top shelf talent at the position which he knows the best.

Some of the names he has signed since 2005 include Tommy Beecher, Cade Thompson, Chris Smelley, Aramis Hillary, Reid McCollum, Andrew Clifford and Tanner McEvoy. Of those seven only Clifford completed his eligibility at USC.

Of course we all know the saga of the one elite quarterback Spurrier did bring in, Stephen Garcia, and we have guys currently on the roster in Dylan Thompson, Brendan Nosovitch and Connor Mitch whom we think have a chance to be very good.

But it was an unheralded recruit out of Flowery Branch, GA, that has now staked his claim as the not only the best quarterback of the Spurrier era, but quite possibly the greatest Gamecock quarterback of all time – Connor Shaw.

Shaw passed on offers from the likes of East Carolina, Stanford, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and West Virginia (he had no other SEC offers) to sign with USC and Steve Spurrier, one of his football heroes.

Shaw could’ve been just another one of those guys, another signal caller who couldn’t grasp the offense or handle the day-to-day grind of being a Steve Spurrier quarterback. But Shaw is a coach’s son, and a damn tough one at that.

The Head Ball Coach took a liking to Shaw during the recruiting process, and when he arrived in Columbia as an early enrollee in the spring of 2010, he immediately moved his way up the depth chart and by the start of the season was the back-up to the established Stephen Garcia.

Shaw came in for the first time in the 2010 season opener against Southern Miss and threw a touchdown pass, then got some snaps the next week against Furman.

In the fourth game of the season, Spurrier shocked everyone by turning to Shaw in the fourth quarter of a one-score game against Auburn after Garcia had fumbled on back-to-back possessions. Twice Shaw led the Gamecocks into Auburn territory only to throw interceptions in what turned out to be a 35-27 loss. But despite the turnovers Shaw showed composure in moving the USC offense that night. If we didn’t notice it, Spurrier surely did.

The rest of the 2010 season the team belonged to Garcia, and besides taking his first big knockout shot in a loss to Arkansas, Shaw’s season was relatively uneventful.

During 2011 fall practice Spurrier teased us all by telling us he didn’t know who the starting quarterback was going to be in the season opener against East Carolina. I mean, surely the incumbent, the Senior, the man who led us to the SEC East title the previous year would start under center, right?

Wrong. Days before the ECU game Spurrier announced Shaw would start over Garcia, simply stating that Shaw had had a better fall practice.

Shaw was shaky in that start, and Garcia came to the rescue to lead the Gamecocks to a 56-37 victory, and seemingly order had been restored. But, despite a big win over Georgia in Athens the following week, Garcia never got in the groove. Mediocre play in wins over Navy and Vanderbilt, and a horrible performance in a crushing defeat to Auburn led Spurrier to make the switch back to Shaw.

A different Shaw showed up that Saturday against Kentucky, confident and ready to take the reins once and for all. He threw for 311 yards and 4 TDs in a 54-3 rout of the Wildcats. When Stephen Garcia was dismissed from the team the following week, we knew we had to ride or die with Connor Shaw the rest of the way.

Shaw led us to huge back-to-back road victories over Mississippi State and Tennessee (critics always seem to conveniently forget these games when they argue he can’t win a big game on the road.) Following a loss to an outstanding Arkansas team, Shaw willed the Gamecocks to a tight win over Florida, and then passed for 217 yards and ran for 90 in a win over The Citadel.

The next week Shaw put together one of the best games of his career, passing for 210 yards and 3 TDs  and rushing for 107 yards and another score in a 34-13 rout of Clemson.

A Capital One Bowl win over Nebraska gave South Carolina their first 11-win season in school history, and finally Spurrier had the man he wanted leading the offense.

The 2012 season didn’t get off to the start the Gamecocks had hoped, with Shaw going down with a shoulder injury early in the first game against Vanderbilt. With Dylan Thompson ineffective, and despite excruciating pain, Shaw returned and simply willed USC to a win in Nashville.

He sat the following week, and a great game by Thompson against ECU started a debate that raged for a year and half – and still goes on in some minds – over who the starting quarterback should be.

Three straight wins set up a showdown with #5 Georgia, and in front of an ESPN national audience, Shaw and the Gamecocks played one of the most complete games in USC history, ripping the Bulldogs 35-7. Shaw completed only six passes, but amassed 162 yards and two TDs and also rushed for 78 yards and a TD.

The Gamecocks’ bubble was quickly burst with a close loss at LSU, and then a bizarre blowout loss at Florida that fueled the Shaw critics.

Shaw responded against Tennessee with a 356 yard, 3 TD performance on a day when Marcus Lattimore’s career at USC ended. Without Shaw’s performance that day the Gamecocks would have had a third straight loss and the season could’ve easily slipped away.

The next two weeks Shaw played and the Gamecocks won, but the beatings he had taken all year forced him to sit the finale against Clemson, and Thompson put together one of the legendary performances ever in the rivalry.

A still-injured Shaw and Thompson combined to lead the team to a dramatic win over Michigan in the Outback Bowl, and the program’s second consecutive 11-win season.

Coming into this season Spurrier talked of the two quarterbacks splitting time throughout the season, but early on it was evident that Shaw gave us the best chance to win week in and week out.

With the team sitting at 5-1, the season seemingly came crashing down on October 19 at Tennessee. Not only did we lose a huge divisional game to a bad Volunteer football team, but Shaw suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury. I personally expected the worst, and figured the best case scenario would have him returning late in the season.

But as Shaw has done so many times in his career, he set aside the pain and dressed for the Missouri game, even though we didn’t expect him to play. Dylan Thompson was not bad that night, but with the Gamecocks down 17-0, Steve Spurrier asked Shaw if he could play. We needed a spark, he said.

Not only did Shaw play, but he cemented his legacy on that night in a comeback for the ages.

This past Saturday Connor Shaw became the winningest quarterback in South Carolina history. This coming Saturday Shaw will run the zone read and throw the deep post for the last time at Williams Brice Stadium. One month from now, Shaw will don the garnet and black for the final time.

I wish I could be there Saturday, I really do. Because those of you who are will be seeing the best quarterback in South Carolina history, by almost any measure, for the last time on his home field. And I hope when he is introduced there are 80,000 plus fans on their feet saluting him for what he has done for this program.

There are those of you who will debate and disagree over whether Shaw is the best, and that’s fine. We can talk statistics and arm strength and measurables until we’re blue in the face.

But there is one measure on which we can all agree, and the most important legacy he will leave on South Carolina football.

Connor Shaw is a winner.

Snap Judgments – Coastal Carolina @ USC Edition

King Tuttchdown (photo courtesy of
King Tuttchdown (photo courtesy of

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.


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.




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


The Skinny on SEC Expansion

The quiet murmurs have become a deafening roar among commentators: The Southeastern Conference is about to expand.

With Texas A&M all but announcing their switch outright, the questions now swirling in the zeitgeist have moved from the Aggies’ membership to some version or the other of “who’s next?”

Based on our extensive list (well, it’s more like a few phone numbers jotted down on a cocktail napkin) of well-connected sources (actually upon review this appears to be a drunken scrawl of a ceviche recipe) we offer the following Insider ™ guide to the potential SEC expansion candidates, in order of likelihood:

  1. Florida State – Let’s be honest, they’ve kinda been in the SEC all along, haven’t they? And their location in that southern Georgia part of eastern Alabama makes perfect geographic sense.  Oh and that FSU chick is pretty hot.
  2. Kentucky – they’ve been in the conference for basketball for decades, so it’s a natural fit for them join up as a football school as well, assuming that is, they actually have a football team.
  3. Notre Dame – They’ll have to join the rest of us in the 90s, er 2010s or whatever first, cause we don’t call our lady-folk “dames” around here.   But the gold helmets would look good on someone who knows how to play football (we are looking straight at you, Vandy).  Oh and the big ol’ Jesus statute looks like the one at Dollywood, so there’s that.
  4. Oregon State – but only if they can be Carolina’s permanent Western Division foe.  And if you have to ask why, then I don’t know what to tell you.
  5. Carla Gugino – her name doesn’t really fit, I’ll grant you, but she’s built for a physical style of football.  Fast, too.
  6. Miami – Auburn needs a travel partner to and from the detention center.  Miami will totally hold your weed for you, Tigs, and has ZERO problem with carrying around loads of cash.
  7. Oregon and Virginia Tech together –throw Carolina in there and you have the legendary culinary treat, the turduckin.
  8. Missouri – not really, that would be stupid, but everyone keeps mentioning them for some reason.
  9. Oklahoma – Hot weather?  Check. Traditional Unis? Check.  Willingness to blatantly cheat?  Check.  Oh and Stoopsie wears a visor.
  10. Ohio State – wait that’s a bad idea, since they have an even worse record against the SEC than Southern Miss, Troy, or Memphis.
  11. Texas Tech.  Just to get Tommy Turberville back in the conference.  Stupid onside kick in the third quarter, dang it.  #jugears
  12. TCU – Is there a mascot more tailor-made for the SEC than a daggum frog?  Added bonus here is that it would really piss off those losers in the Big East.  Oh, we would need to educate the LSU fans that the Superfrog is not actual food.
  13. The British chick from Captain America – but only if Gugino turns us down first.
  14. Memphis – NOT! (HA, I TROLLZ YOU, BLUE TIGERS!)
  15. North Carolina State – hear me out on this one.  Yes they suck at everything.  But “The Wolfpack” is the batcrap coolest mascot out there.  I wish WE were the Wolfpack, for crying out loud. It would also annoy the Tarheels, which is all we’ve been trying to do since the 1970s around here, so . . .
  16. Furman University –  For personal reasons.  Move along, gentle reader.
  17. Louisville – Someone in the Bluegrass State needs to represent on the gridiron, right? Plus they have a bird mascot, which appeals to me for some reason.
  18. William Shatner – Man never quits.  Bad toupee and old as hell, but he’s got like 5 shows on TV right now and a hit music album.  If the SEC is going after Arbitron numbers, then look no further than the Captain.
  19. Georgia – we want the Pre-Richt/Donnan/Goff version to rejoin the conference.  Remember when the Dawgs were relevant?  Me neither.
  20. CTU – cause it makes them so orgasmically happy just to be mentioned in any SEC speculation, and I’m starting to feel this [] much sorry for the miserable little inbred cretins.

The Comeuppance Report; or, Who I’m Pulling Against This Week

This has been a strange week. I’ve been less motivated than usual (which is saying something), and don’t have the typical vitriol built up that I usually have heading into a college football weekend. Maybe the big win over Georgia last week combined with a supposed “gimme” this week has eased my nerves and softened me up.

Regardless, here is a kindler, gentler version of who I’m pulling against this week:

Orange Tigers Of course, Im mainly pulling against the orange Tigers from the upstate, but I dont want the orange Tigers from L.A. to look too good doing it. Then again, a 45-7 Auburn victory this week, and then a victory for the Gamecocks on the Plains next week would catapult us into a legitimate top 10 ranking. And probably cause a slew of bridge-jumping related deaths in upstate South Carolina.

Furman Ive never given Furman football fans even a passing thought until this week. Turns out they are easily offended and quite a humorless bunch.

Duke Even though it hasnt happened yet, I keep hoping massive failure by the Duke football team will somehow translate into massive failure for the Duke basketball team. Look for Bama to be playing walk-ons by the third quarter.

Georgia This was a tough call. Since we in essence have a two-game lead on them in the division, Ive given a brief thought to actually pulling for them to help further legitimize our decisive victory over them last week. But nah, it turns out watching fans of teams you despise have nuclear meltdowns up close is quite entertaining.

The Masters? Yes. SEC Football? No.

The CBS 3:30 Game Why in the world isFlorida-Tennessee still worthy of the CBS 3:30 p.m. slot? Oh, right, because the SEC slate of games sucks this week. Speaking of, the SEC needs to find a way to break up with CBS anddate ESPN exclusively. Even though ESPN is incredibly self-indulgent and stuck up, she’s still the hottest chick around. Plus she acts like she might like us. CBS is getting older and more boringwith each passing season, plusshe’s starting to smell a little like mothballs (I’m looking at you Verne). Ill watch this game anyway, because theres no way these two teams can be as bad as they seem.

Rick Neuheisel How does this toolstill have a job? And who gave him the green light to address the fans after home games? Worstideaever.

Pat Conroy – For this statement to the Wall Street Journal about Marcus Lattimore: “I keep thinking he’s going to break his leg,” says Mr. Conroy, “because of the Chicken Curse.”A big fat shut the hell up to you Mr. Conroy, you blasphemer.

Bacteria Feeling a little under the weather today, which is not good. I only give myself 14-15 Saturdays per year to engage in extreme gluttony and sloth, and I cannot afford to have sickness ruin one of those days.

Derek Dooley Takes A Stand

News came yesterday from UT Coach Derek Dooley that his players are filthy, parasite-infested hobgoblins. I’m certainly glad that Coach Dooley finally noticed what the rest of the SEC has known for decades, butI also thinkhe’s gone overboard by sharing his personal grooming tete-a-tete with the news media at a freakin’ press conference.

Actual photo from the heart-to-heart talk with the playas attached:

Head Coach Jame Gumb

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.

First Take

I have a friend, let’s call him Munson.  Munson is a rabid UGA fan, and because his dad lives in Columbia and may or may not be a casual Gamecock fan (I’m not big into detail), believes he knows everything there is to know about our fan base.

We email a good bit, but actually  speak only about a dozen times a year.  One of those occasions is our annual preseason breakfast with two other big college football fans (Auburn, Wisconsin) to discuss our respective football programs and the outlook for the coming year.

When it comes around to me, like them I go into boring detail, position by position, schedule strength, staff changes, etc., and usually finish by telling the guys I’m cautiously optimistic we’ll make a run in the SEC East, but realistically we’re a 7-5, 8-4 kind of squad.

To this, Munson always says something along the lines of, “WHAT!?!  A South Carolina fan who doesn’t believe you’re going to win the national title?  I can’t believe it!  I’ve never met a Carolina fan who didn’t think THIS was the year!”

To which my reply is “What Carolina fan(s) are you talking to?  Seriously, I need to know so I can set them straight.”

At least that was my reply the first time.  Over the years my reply has become more expletive laden and smothered in incredulity.  Because, seriously, who and where are these fans of whom Munson speaks?

I’ve been aware of athletics at the University of South Carolina since about 1978.  I’ve been what I would consider a die-hard fan since 1987, and am a proud 1991 graduate.

With the exception of the Golden Era from June 12, 2010 through June 29, 2010, my life as a Gamecock fan has been fraught with misery.  With every one glimmer of hope came multiple doses of cold, hard reality.  And it was a stunning, bizarro reality at times – see Navy, The Citadel, Coppin State, Richmond, 63-17, Louisiana-Lafayette just to name a few of the most painful.  The point is this – I am optimistic by nature, but when it comes to Gamecock athletics my first inclination is to think the worst.

Which brings me to this blog, the brainchild of a gentleman you’ll come to know as T-bone.  He’ll be joined by me, Buck, and the G-man to give what we believe to be a realistic look at Gamecock sports – the highs, the mediums and the lows.   We’ll mostly focus on football, but will try to keep things going through basketball and baseball seasons.

We’ll sprinkle in some general college football ramblings, because after all it is the greatest sport known to man.  We probably won’t comment too much on the new women’s softball coach or the swimming and diving teams.  But we just might let you know about a new beer we’ve tried or a great movie we saw or a stellar new barbeque joint.

It’s a blank canvas right now, but we hope you enjoy what you read and will provide feedback on the content.  After all, I’ve heard people who blog about sports become rich beyond their wildest dreams within the first year.  I know I’m banking on that.

With that, I leave you with the greatest moment in the history of University of South Carolina sports.