Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tense Bowden hostage situation nears resolution

"Give me more money or the coach gets it!"

Looks like the treading-water will continue at Clemson. Rumors abound that Tommy is about to ink a lucrative ($2.2 million!!!) contract to stay in Tigertown. If this is true, Bowden will have orchestrated one of the most blatant — and befuddling — cash-grabs this side of Sabanation. Arkansas got played and this "good Christian man" straight-up robbed the Clemson piggy bank.

What exactly is Clemson paying for? Tiger fans go on endlessly about "demanding excellence" and "producing championships." Yet, in nine years, Tommy Bowden has delivered nothing.

Except one thing.

Beating South Carolina.

For all their talk of belonging in the football elite and demanding more than 8-win seasons, this last-ditch attempt at luring Tommy back only proves one thing...all he has to do is beat South Carolina. Lose to Wake? Fire Tommy! Beat USC? Contract extension! Lose to Duke? Fire Tommy! Beat USC? Contract extension! Get reamed at home by Virginia Tech? Fire Tommy! Beat USC? Contract extension!

Go ahead and keep talking about championships, Clemson fans. But as long as you keep paying this man more and more for only beating South Carolina, you're revealing your true aspirations and rewarding a man for nothing more than mediocrity.

Is Tommy ready to end this abusive relationship?

Leave? Me? Noooooo...you guys have treated me so well!

As of 12:46am, the Tommy Bowden to Arkansas rumors are really starting to pick up steam. Why? I can't even begin to figure out why this makes sense for either party. But wouldn't it be hilarious...after nine years of not winning the ACC championship, not winning the little games, and just not being Danny Ford...Tommy might bolt town? And just when Tiger fans were starting to warm up to him.

Judging by these responses on HawgSports.com, Tommy might be heading into a grumpy shitstorm of malcontents just like the one he left. Some choice comments:

"I think we just traded in a 1998 Ford Taurus for a 1999 Ford Taurus with similar miles. And we lost our ass in the process! What was the point?"

"FIRE BOWDEN...I would rather take my chances with Gus...FRACKING, MUTHER FRACKERS!!! Screw the UA and their athletic program!!!"

"Houston, we love you....come back to us."

"Bowden hire not what the fan base needs...not what the school needs, not a commitment to improving the football program IMO. WTF is going on up there?!?!?!?!?!?!"

"If we got rid of Nutt for Bowden...we took a step backwards"

"Bowden has only proven he is capable of medicority in the ACC."

"We know what Tommy Bowden can do and he could not carry Houston's jock strap."

"The destruction of the program is complete....unbelievable."

Just gives you the warm and fuzzies, huh?

Monday, December 3, 2007

When did you people become so entitled?

The Gamecock message boards are littered right now with people bitching about the current state of Gamecock football. They feel like we're not living up to expectations...we should be in a bowl game...we deserve better than this.


What exactly in the 100+ years of mediocre Gamecock football leads you to believe that we deserve better than this? We are who we thought we were. And what's wrong with that?

Part of the unique...um...charm of being a Gamecock is the shared sense of disappointment. We've all been through a lot of crap together. I mean a lot of crap. But it's those perpetual lows which have brought us all together and made the good times even more sweet.

Do we really want to become like Clemson? They're basically another mediocre team that had one really great decade to create some space between themselves and the .500 record around which we seem to be stuck. When you average out our lifetime records, Clemson has really only averaged about one win per season more than us. But that's it. Really, what's the difference between 100 years of 7-5 records and 100 years of 6-6 records?

But that one decade of hovering around the top of college football has given Clemson an inflated sense of self that still lingers...nearly 20 years later. They were mediocre before Danny. They've been mediocre after Danny. But each year they demand more—somehow rationalizing to themselves that the belong amongst the elite. Yet they never get there. They always fall short. Always. It makes you wonder which team is the one with the supposed curse.

If a misguided sense of entitlement—and therefore a constant state of disappointment—is the price you have to pay for winning, then I'm not sure I ever really want to reach the top of the mountain. Why can't we savor the occasional good years, of which we've had may in the last decade?

Sure, we're all disappointed with this season. But there's always next year! Embrace that next year. It's who we are and we should run with it.

Tis better to have lost and not been to a bowl than ever to have been to the Humanitarian Bowl at all.

Monday, November 26, 2007

No bowl for you!

For the third consecutive year, the Clemson/Carolina game came down to the last possession. But this year, Clemson's kicker avoided becoming the ultimate goat of all goats by making his last gasp field goal. It's hard to say any team really deserved to win, so it's also hard to say any team deserved to lose. It was one of those classic toss-up games that just came down to who had the ball last.

While I'm not happy we lost, I feel much...much...better than I did after 2000. Neither team got screwed this time. This was just an even game where both teams fought really hard and won or lost on their own merits. It would do a great service to this rivalry to have every game be as close and competitive as these last three have been.

Now...about that bowl situation. We do not deserve to go to a bowl game. As a matter of principle, I have always believed that six-win teams do not belong in bowl games. And just because it's my team that happens to have six wins this year, I'm not going to go back on that belief. With 12-game seasons, it's possible for a team to get a bowl game and finish with a losing record at 6-7. It's an appalling possibility and I want nothing to do with it.

I realize that college football is just a business now, but we have no business being in a bowl game. Just put this season behind us and get to recruiting. Next up...NC State in Williams-Brice on Thursday, August 28th as we kick off the 2008 college football season on ESPN.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Clemson's Greatest Hero: "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman

Benjamin Tillman, probably daydreaming about killing black people

Benjamin "Pitchfork" Tillman is probably Clemson University's most recognizable historic figure. He's celebrated to this day through the name of the school's most prominent architectural landmark. And his "curse" is gleefully recalled by Tiger fans every time South Carolina stumbles on the gridiron. He is a true Clemson hero. And why shouldn't he be? He was super totally awesome!

How awesome? THIS awesome:

Tillman made his name by helping lead the charge at the Hamburg Massacre—ending in the death of several black Republicans. Yes...at one point in history, there actually were several black Republicans.
"The purpose of our visit was to strike terror, and the next morning when the negroes who had fled to the swamp returned to the town, the ghastly sight which met their gaze of seven dead negroes lying stark and stiff certainly had its effect. We have done our level best, we have scratched our heads to find out how we could eliminate the last one of them, and we would have done it if we could, we took the government away. We stuffed ballot boxes. We shot them. We are not ashamed of it."

Probably not a fan of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, Tillman was notoriously picky about his daughters' suitors.
"I have three daughters, but so help me God, I had rather find either one of them killed by a tiger or a bear and gather up her bones and bury them, conscious that she had died in the purity of her maidenhood, than to have her crawl to me and tell me the horrid story that she had been robbed of the jewel of her womanhood by a black fiend."

In honor of their cherished hero, the Clemson community doesn't let Ben's beacon of enlightenment get lost in the dusty winds of time. Heck no! They celebrate the crap out of him! They named their most iconic building after him...
Tillman Hall on the Clemson campus

And every spring, they keep his righteous ideals alive during the campus-wide "Lynchapalooza" celebration.
Some students participate in a role-playing scenario depicting an incident of which ol' Pitchfork would probably have disapproved.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fun with Stats: Rivalry Week Edition!

Eleven games into the season, I think we can safely say that Thunder and Lightning aren't all that. Turns out there's another storm system in South Carolina that packs the same punch, but with only half the hype. And against better defenses.
What went wrong up in Clemson? We've all seen flashes of brilliance from Davis and Spiller in the past. They're capable of some pretty amazing things. But they haven't even come close to reaching McFadden/Jonesian levels of success.

It's been fascinating to watch as the Clemson coaching staff out-thinks itself (admittedly, not a hard task) on a weekly basis—coming up with creative ways to handcuff their own best weapons. You'd think that after the Music City Meltdown, they'd realize the error of their ways. But no. Week after week, they gameplan a way to NOT use their strengths.

Yanking Merriwether, messing with kickers' heads, neglecting special teams, questionable play calling with the game on the line—the coaches up there just can't get out of their own way. Instead of creating a scheme to harness their talents and dictating the course of a game, the staff wilts at the first sign of pressure—throwing the gameplan out the window. Meanwhile, Davis and Spiller just have to sit there and wait for the time when they can bolt for the NFL.

Monday, November 12, 2007

2-0 on the March to March

Like Sherman himself, the Gamecock basketball squad continued its scorched earth policy on fellow Cackalacky schools. Only this time, Charleston was not spared...as the Odomites opened up a Warchest full of whoopass on The Citadel, 103-42. Seven Gamecocks finished in double figures. Seven. That's a lot.

Next up...this Saturday at 7:30, Southern Cal comes to The Colon with their hyped-up superfrosh O.J. Mayo. This guy is a first-class douche. He handpicked SoCal as his one-year NBA prep school because, a) it's in L.A., so he could be marketed better; and b) because they have no one else on their team, ensuring all eyes will be on him.

Now back in the day, we students made up a mighty fine cheering section. We were no Cameron Crazies, but we made our presence known. But now, they threw us in a bright, shiny new building with zero character and moved the students further away from the court. It's kind of a shame considering what once was. So here's your chance, students, to make a name for yourself. Give this O.J. guy hell. Get loud, get in his face. Make The Colon a place to be feared.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Are you ready for some...basketball?

Tonight, The Warchest unveils his 2007-2008 team at The Colon. Sure, it's only against SC State. But this is almost an entirely new Gamecock squad...we might actually be good this year. That's my official stance. Mark it down. We're going to be good. Like, 20 wins good. NCAA Tourney good. Good enough to beat Gardner-Webb, at least.

So what do you think, Gamecock Nation? Will this be the year we return to the NCAA Tourney? Or will this be another year of sitting at home? Or even worse, another trip back to...you know where.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Arkansas Week...

The Record
6-3 (2-2 SEC East, 3-3 SEC), #23 AP Poll/#25 USAToday Coaches' Poll
Like both MacArthur and the Gamecock offense…I have returned.

The Previous Week
Lost to Tennessee 27-24 (OT) in Knoxville
It’s been a tough two weeks for Gamecock fans. First, we lay an egg on our own home field versus Vanderbilt…Vanderbilt, effectively killing our shot at the SEC and a Top 5 ranking. But as we sat back at the tailgate, wallowing in our own sorrow, the dominoes started to fall into place again. Down goes Kentucky! Down goes Tennessee! We were back in it.

Then on to Knoxville. It was a beautiful fall day—and actually not that cold, considering past trips to Rocky Top. Gamecock fans made a strong showing, getting there early and making our presence known. Unfortunately, the USC offense didn’t show up until after halftime. Eight quarters without a touchdown…two full games…it was a thorough 21-point beatdown that really showed no signs of turning our way. Even our band got crushed.

I hope you didn’t go to the bathroom during the third quarter, because you probably missed a boatload of Gamecock heroics on the field. Blake must have had his spinach at halftime…he was hitting receivers all over the place…even downfield. Yes, we threw the ball downfield. Cory and Mike got cranked up. Succop nailed a clutch FG with about a minute and a half left. Then…well, you watched it.

The Upcoming Week
Saturday versus Arkansas in Fayetteville
So here we are again. Down, but not quite out. How ridiculous is it that we could still win the SEC East? And it’s not even really that far-fetched. Improbable, yes. Impossible, no. We just need to play balls-out the next two games and hope that we get some help from some frenemies like Kentucky, Auburn, and Vanderbilt.

But why worry about the other guys when we have Arkansas to worry about? This game is always a weird one. Is Matt Jones still playing? To this day, I have nightmares about that dude. Looks like Herman Munster, runs like Barry Sanders. But the Razorbacks don’t need a running QB anymore, now that they’ve got McFadden and Jones. They can’t throw the ball for Dick, but they don’t need to either. Can we stop them? At home?

The Team
I just don’t know anymore. Has there even been a more Jekyll/Hyde Carolina squad than this one? When we’re on…we can run with anyone. But when we’re off…damn, we can suck. I’d like to think that things are back on track after the way we kicked in last week. All signs point to another late-season resurrection for Blake. Is he for real…again? We all know he can do it. But will he?

The defense has been holding up their end of the bargain all season. Even in our losses, you can’t really hang it on them. Most of our opponents’ scores have come off of turnovers and bad special teams play giving up good field position. How often have we actually seen another team drive on this offense? And in those rare instances, how many times have we let them get into the end zone instead of settling for a field goal? I have all the confidence in the world in this unbelievably talented—yet frighteningly young—defense.

The Gamecock Nation
Frustrating losses aside, this has been a tough week for Gamecock fans for far more serious reasons. The loss of six of our students and one of their Clemson friends has obviously overshadowed any concerns about a football team. When you look at their pictures and read about their lives, you realize that “they” were really part of “us.” The Gamecock Nation is made up of tens of thousands of people just like them. They wanted to enjoy a nice weekend at the beach, have a good time, and watch some football. I’ve done the same thing, you’ve done the same thing…we’ve all been there.

So when something like this happens, it doesn’t just affect a few people. It affects everyone who’s part of this community. We identify with these people because we are these people. I never met them, but I feel like I know them. Being part of the Gamecock Nation brings it all together. We spend our Saturdays with 80,000 strangers and 80,000 friends at the same time. So while at a time like this, football can seem incredibly trivial, it can also be incredibly important. Without football, I wouldn’t have had the chance to share a lifetime of experiences with these people. Without football, I wouldn’t have been made more whole by our shared sense of community. Now, with football, we can all share—together—just one of things that makes this Gamecock life a life worth celebrating.

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Go Cocks," quoth Stephen Colbert!

"I promise, if elected, I will crush the state of Georgia!"

South Carolina's "Favorite Son"—and Doritos enthusiast—Stephen Colbert kicked off his Presidential campaign with a rousing ceremony at The Horseshoe on Monday. Nearly 1000 students showed up as Mayor Bob Coble presented Colbert with a key to the city and pronounced October 28th, "Stephen Colbert Day."

I could go on to describe the awesomeness of the event, but words alone cannot capture the power of such a moving event. Thankfully, WIS was there with a camera to record the speech. You really have to watch it...you won't be disappointed...

"First to secede. First to succeed!"™

Colbert Ceremony—WIS Video

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Now back to our regularly scheduled season

In lieu of actual content over the past week, I bring you something far more satisfying than what the Gamecock football team is currently offering. This might be the most insane football highlight I have ever seen.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Vanderbilt Experience, Part III: Arts and Stuff

With Saturday's contest quickly approaching, let's wrap up our brief exploration into the timeless question, "Why is Vanderbilt in the SEC?"

Most SEC schools fall into the classification of what you would call "football schools." Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia...and so on...these are not so much institutions of higher learning as they are institutions of football yearning. Everything is done with football in mind. Vacations are scheduled around road trips. Holiday time with the family is squeezed in around bowl appearances. Life begins...and ends...on Saturday.

Saturdays are equally as important at Vanderbilt. Lest you think that they have misplaced their priorities in Nashville, take a listen to what one of their very own has to say about the situation...
"I can go to a football game on a Saturday...or I can go to dance practice."
You see, at Vanderbilt, football is no longer the forgotten stepchild. It is not the dirty little secret that lies neglected and nearly-forgotten. At Vanderbilt, times have changed. At Vanderbilt, football has now risen to a level of prominence that brings it on par with dance practice.

So this week, we've learned that Vanderbilt's student life grounds the SEC with an anchor of intellect. We've learned that Vanderbilt's championship athletics bring pride to the SEC. And now we've learned that Vanderbilt's students have elevated football to an art form. There should be no doubt now that Vanderbilt belongs in the SEC. They bring a sense of rich, erudite diversity that cannot be found in places like Tuscaloosa or Starkville. Theirs is not a tradition to be mocked, but savored. Here's to you, Vanderbilt, for classing up the joint.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

AAAAH!!! This post is haunted!!! Seriously...DO NOT CLICK ON IT!!! Don't say I didn't warn you...

Mommy, make the scary man go away!!!

The Vanderbilt Experience, Part II: Championship Athletics

Today we continue our look into the question, "Why is Vanderbilt in the SEC?" Part II of our series delves into the subtle sports tradition of the Vanderbilt Commodores.

We all know that the school places a perplexing amount of emphasis on academics. But did you know that they placed a similarly perplexing amount of emphasis on sports? Indeed, they do. In fact, the most notable facet of Vanderbilt athletics is probably the fact that Vanderbilt does not have athletics. Seriously. They have no Athletic Department—it was dissolved in 2003.

With priorities like that, is it really any wonder that last April, the Vanderbilt Women's Bowling team won the first team NCAA Championship in Vanderbilt University history?

In the SEC, they say that if you're not cheatin', you're not tryin'. At Vanderbilt, they're neither cheating nor trying. Which is just how we like it. Without Vanderbilt, who would you schedule for Homecoming? So while fans around the SEC deride the Dores for their incompetence on the field, they fail to realize that they need Vanderbilt to suck.

In this wacky era of USC and Kentucky in the Top 10, it's reassuring to see Vandy remain as a dependable source of suck. As the North Star has guided sailors on the seas for centuries, these Commodores have themselves been that constant, guiding beacon...shining evermore from the bottom of the standings.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Vanderbilt Experience, Part I: Student Life

For more than 15 years, students, educators, and historians have asked, "Why is Vanderbilt in the SEC?" There are probably many well-reasoned answers to that question, but we'll ignore those this week as we look into the Commodores' controversial—but very necessary—inclusion in the Southeastern Conference.

First, we will tackle student life. The SEC is loaded with fun places to go to school...Florida, Georgia, LSU...I could go on and on. But too much fun can lead to total anarchy. Let's break it down like this...think of the SEC as Bayside High School. The students there are totally super awesome...A.C. Slater, Zach Morris, Kelly Kapowski...I could go on and on. But who is it that grounds that group? Who tethers their way cool party fun kick assness to reality? Screech. He is the group's brainy center...without him everything would fall apart.

So Vanderbilt is our Screech, our connection to actually academia. Here's to you, Vanderbilt...for keeping the rest of us on the straight-and-narrow, for raising our average GPA, and for helping us feign even the most flimsy facade of interest in actual academic endeavors.

*(In the interest of full disclosure...this video was made by Duke students. Yes. Duke students. Making fun of Vanderbilt for being too preppy. Duke students.)

Vanderbilt Week...

The Record
6-1 (2-0 SEC East, 3-1 SEC), #6 AP Poll/#8 USAToday Coaches' Poll
We did our job…went in to Chapel Hill…took the Tarheels’ minds off of basketball for four hours…made just enough ballplays…and came out with a win.

The Previous Week
Beat UNC 21-15 in Chapel Hill
It was a gorgeous fall day for football up in Chapel Hill. Kenan Stadium was packed with Tarheels still hung over from “Late Night with Roy,” and Gamecocks hoping to see their team administer an epic beatdown.

And for a half…the beatdown was going well. Smelley was clicking—spreading the ball around to three different receivers on three first-half TD passes. Boyd and Davis were making some tough runs, keeping the chains moving. It was nothing spectacular, but the Cocks put in a workman-like performance worthy of a 21-3 halftime lead.

Then…the second half. In what is starting to become a habit, USC came sleepwalking out of the lockerroom, unaware that there was still 30 minutes of football left. Drive after drive, they ended up in third-and-short situations, were unable to convert, and were forced to punt. And for a quarter, UNC complied by not taking advantage of our ineptitude.

But in the fourth quarter, the Tarheels came alive—putting points on the board and keeping the Gamecocks in submissive position the rest of the way. All we needed was one more first down to ice this thing, but that first down would never come. All we needed was a field goal to put it out of reach, but it clanged harmlessly off the upright.

So, as if someone had queued last year’s Kentucky game up on the Tivo, it came down to some desperation throws at the end. And thankfully, this game ended in the same fashion…with a bunch of grumpy—but victorious—Gamecocks.

The Upcoming Week
Saturday versus Vanderbilt in Columbia
It’s been established that this Vanderbilt team is not the Vandy of old. They’re a capable squad that will make you work for a win. They won’t just lie down. And they have the best wide receiver in the conference. This is a good team.

But this is a team USC has no business losing to, especially at home. Will Spurrier bounce back from his “putrid offense” in the UNC game with one of his patented blowouts? Will he make this a statement game that says we deserve our lofty ranking? It seems like a bit of a breather, but this is a conference game and will be an important jumping off point for the second half of the season.

The Team
“No heart…no heart,” Cory Boyd was overheard saying Saturday after the game. He was understandably pissed at his team’s performance against UNC, and for good reason. This was a game that was firmly in our grasp at halftime. We should have come out in the second half and extended the lead to Spurrieresque blowout proportions.

But whether it was lack of heart, lack of killer instinct, or lack of proper blocking technique…something was amiss. But the good news is that our team and our coaches know about it and are on the case. We know we have the talent, but we haven’t been able to string together four good quarters yet. I am confident that they will solve this problem and come out roaring Saturday—putting together a satisfying, complete game for the home crowd.

The Gamecock Nation
Lou Holtz talked about culture change. Steve Spurrier is bringing about culture change. Two examples from Saturday night proved this to me, undoubtedly.

• Seconds after the game was over, the UNC crowd erupted into a spontaneous standing ovation for their Tarheels. They were ecstatic that they got that close to winning. Their celebration should look familiar…it’s the same celebration that broke out in Williams-Brice after we almost knocked off #2 Auburn last year. And it’s the same celebration that earned a harsh rebuke from the Head Ball Coach.

So while we watched the Tarheels celebrate their loss, the USC fans were disgusted. We were pissed…and I’m glad we were pissed. It shows that we have expectations. Close isn’t good enough for us anymore.

• Back at the tailgate, we huddled around a stranger’s TV to watch the end of LSU/Kentucky. In between one of the overtimes, one of our friends said, “Well, at least we’re bowl-eligible.” And that was the first time I had heard that phrase all week. It was almost two hours after the game and no one had mentioned it.

Back in the day, six wins was the Holy Grail. Could we do it? Could we get six wins? Could we make it to a bowl? Golly gee gosh, can we go to a bowl, pleeeeease? “Bowl-eligible” was a constant in a Gamecock fan’s vocabulary. But this last Saturday, it was virtually absent. After reaching the same benchmark that would have sent us into spastic celebration only a few years ago, we stewed over our win, not noticing a thing.

That’s culture change.

Friday, October 12, 2007

UNC Pre-Game...

USC rolls into Chapel Hill in what is being called the hardest ticket to get at Kenan Stadium in a decade.

The Game
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Kenan Stadium
Chapel Hill, NC
3:30pm, ABC

The Set-Up
Since the Gamecocks’ acrimonious departure from the ACC nearly 40 years ago, this once-heated rivalry has been relatively dormant. There have been scattered football and basketball games, but no consistent contests to establish who the “real” Carolina is.

UNC is coming off a big win against Miami. For a program just starting to take shape under Butch Davis, it was a big win. But don’t get too carried away—this was a weak Miami team. The Tarheels are still a team on the rise, though. Someday…soon…they’ll get a program-defining win. I just don’t think it will be this weekend.

USC is on a roll…of sorts. It hasn’t always been pretty, but the bend-but-don’t-break Gamecocks always seem to get it done when they have to. Smelley appears to be getting better each week. The defense is still dominant. And the special teams are poised to breakout. Will it be this week? Can Chris Culliver make this his star-making game?

The Deciding Factor
Focus. That’s something that the Carolina program lacked under Lou Holtz. While we had some huge wins under his watch, it still seemed like we weren’t always there. Tommy Bowden’s teams have a similar problem. They can win the big games, but they can’t take care of the teams they’re supposed to beat—losing their last 10 games to teams over which they were favored.

Steve Spurrier-coached teams don’t seem to have these problems. There have really only been one and a half head-scratchers in his short tenure (@ Auburn and the second half against Missouri). But that’s it. His teams always seem prepared and well-apprised of the situation.

This game looks to be no different. Don’t expect a let down. The Gamecocks are not over-looking these Tarheels. While the Gamecock fans will flood downtown Chapel Hill with reckless abandon, the Gamecocks on the field will take down the out-matched Heels with determination…and focus.

The Final
South Carolina, 34
North Carolina, 17

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Gamecock Gazette: Border clash erupts at Carowinds

Some light reading for the trip up to Chapel Hill. Don't forget your wine and cheese!

Profiles in Tarheel Courage

The University of North Carolina is a proud institution. A pioneer in education, UNC was the first American public university. Ever since they opened their doors to students, UNC has been sending an always-expanding list of distinguished graduates out into the world. So let’s take this moment to profile some of Chapel Hill’s most distinguished alumni—Tarheel blue, through and through.

Marion Jones, Class of '97
One of the greatest female athletes of all time, Marion Jones reached the pinnacle of her sport in 2000—winning five medals at the Summer Olympics in Sydney. Humble to a fault, Jones was reluctant to admit her pioneering work in the pharmaceutical field until recently. And just last week, Jones displayed her generous spirit by unselfishly giving away all of her Olympic medals.

Mike Nifong, Class of '71 and '78
Bold and decisive—Mike Nifong is a man of resolve. Unwilling to fold under pressure, he sticks to his guns in the face of trivial things like adversity, evidence, and “facts.” A graduate—not once, but twice—from UNC, his Tarheel loyalty continued into his professional career as Durham County District Attorney. There, he wielded his prosecutorial power on the lawless Duke Blue Devils. Recently retired, Nifong is still closely involved with the judicial system in North Carolina.

Stuart Scott, Class of '87
One of television’s most talked-about personalities, Stuart Scott is at the top of his profession. His ubiquitous presence on ESPN has made him a favorite topic of conversation among sports fans. Talented and versatile, Scott can be seen on SportsCenter, calling football, hosting poker, and much, much more. You could say that his distinctive style has and penetrated into the minds of sports fans everywhere. Who among us can say that they’ve never asked, “Stuart Scott…again?!?” Boo-ya!

Dexter Reid, Class of '04
One of the most distinguished of gridiron heroes for the Tarheels, Dexter Reid parlayed a magnificent college career into a successful stint in the NFL. A member of the 2005 Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots, Reid might best be known for courageously assisting on a tackle of Florida State running back Greg Jones. His effort was widely and repeatedly recognized in the news media and across the internet. Today, Reid is so popular that he has been sought after by several different law enforcement groups. In fact, you could say he is one of their most wanted men.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

UNC...You're the best (around)!

Pray that this video does not fall into the hands of Butch Davis, because the motivational punch it contains would surely fuel a fire fit to engulf all future Tarheel foes.

Seriously, I want to hate on it. But it's kinda awesome.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Fun with stats!

Clemson punts blocked in Tommy Bowden's 7-year tenure, according to Tommy Bowden: 0
Clemson punts blocked in Tommy Bowden's 7-year tenure, according to facts: 12

Close enough.

But what about Thunder and Lightning...
...or, as Mike Patrick christened them, Mild and Partly Cloudy? Either James Davis and CJ Spiller are the most overrated running back duo of all time or Tommy Bowden is the worst squanderer of talent of all time. I think it's probably the latter.

Coming into the season, I would have told you that Clemson's RB duo was probably better than Carolina's. But now I'm not so sure. The stats don't lie...Tommy Bowden does.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

UNC Week...

The Record
5-1 (2-0 SEC East, 3-1 SEC), #7 AP Poll/#12 USAToday Coaches' Poll
We haven’t been ranked this high since…who knows when. Florida lost. SoCal lost. Oh, and Clemson lost…again. It’s a good time to be a Gamecock.

The Previous Week
Beat Kentucky 38-23 in Columbia
As Weslye Saunders rumbled towards the end zone early in Thursday night’s nationally-televised showdown, visions of SEC Championships were dancing in our heads. This was the year it would all come together. The dark times were finally behind us! Then…whoops…fumble…touchback…Kentucky ball. Same old Carolina. Another vicious Cock tease.

But before the 76,200 rain-soaked fans could even say “Blackout,” Jonathan Williams and Eric Norwood made a century of bad Carolina Karma their bitch—forcing a turnover from the thought-to-be Heisman-worthy Andre’ Woodson and stumbling into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

From there, things stayed relatively even through halftime. Smelley lead a great scoring drive, but couldn’t put together too much more, thanks to a surprisingly-stingy Kentucky defense. But the Carolina defense showed up as well, holding the normally-potent Wildcat offense to only 10 points by halftime.

Offensively, the third quarter was a disaster, but again the USC defense took charge. As Casper Brinkley came down on Woodson, the Kentucky QB made another costly blunder—throwing a pass behind his receiver, who bobbled the backwards pass onto the ground and into the arms of the opportunistic Eric Norwood. The score was now 24-10. And while a lot of drama remained, this turned out to be the winning score. The game was already over.

The Upcoming Week
Saturday versus UNC in Chapel Hill
Thursday night, this was looking like a cakewalk. But by Saturday afternoon, lots of Gamecocks had to be scratching their heads as the UNC/Miami score scrolled across their ticker. What did it mean? Is UNC actually OK? Should we be worried?


And no.

If we learned one thing Saturday, it’s that UNC should not be overlooked. They came to play against Miami and will certainly come to play against the Gamecocks. Their team—and their fans—will be jacked up for the challenge. They see the #7 team in the country rolling into town and their mouths are watering. For Butch Davis, this could be a program-defining victory. And I will be the first to tell you, yes, we could lose this game.

But we won’t. The shocking win over Miami might have been just as important for USC as it was for UNC. Now, Steve Spurrier will have no difficulty convincing his team not to overlook the Heels. We have a ton of players from North Carolina who want bragging rights bad. And this is a team that knows it’s not so good that they can just sleepwalk up to Chapel Hill and win. This team has work ethic. This team will be out for blood.

The Team
For the offense, it’s either feast or famine. Smelley has shown that he is capable of leading gorgeous drives when we need them…just look at that last drive before halftime against Kentucky. But he has also shown that the wheels can come off the wagon just as fast…what the hell happened in the 3rd quarter? This will be a great opportunity to spread the ball around, get our young receivers into the game, and try to re-establish our occasionally-shaky running game.

Defensively, what more could you ask for? We lose Pepper. We lose Brinkley. Yet the defense doesn’t miss a beat—holding in check one of the most heralded of offenses we’ll face this year. With this defense on the field, I am completely confident that we can stay on the field with any team in the country.

The Gamecock Nation
I am a relatively new Gamecock fan. I wasn’t here for the ACC era. I don’t really get the hatred that a lot of Gamecocks still have for the Tobacco Road establishment. But I’ve heard enough stories to realize that this game is big. This game is about “Carolina.”

What is “Carolina”? Is it George Rogers hoisting the Heisman or is it Michael Jordan downing the Hoyas? Is it Tanneyhill’s glorious mullet or is it Montross’ gruesome blood-geyser? It depends on who you ask. The answers you get in Columbia and Chapel Hill are pretty obvious. But what about the swing states? If you walk into a bar in Bozeman, what answer would you get? Fellow Gamecocks, I hate to tell you, but you probably wouldn’t like the answer.

So that’s what this game is about. There hasn’t been much recent history in this series. The rivalry has remained dormant with the Carolina of the pansy-ass blue variety being the most recognizable one. But win this game, and maybe, just maybe, the folks in Bozeman will start to turn. If we can win this game, we can prove to these people who the real Carolina is. Prove it on the field and everything else is just talk. Let’s kick some baby blue ass on Saturday and turn some of those Blue States into Red States.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Celebratory Day Off Viewing Guide

You’ve just beaten the #8 team in the country. Your Top 10 ranking is imminent. Your business is done for the week. So while you patiently wait for the polls to come out on Sunday, use this weekend off to kick back and take in some games that you might normally be too preoccupied to check out.

Here’s a little viewers’ guide to some selected highlights of Saturday’s action.

Miami, Fla @ North Carolina, Noon, ESPN2
Time to scout next week’s competition. This game will tell us if UNC is really, really shitty or simply just shitty. Look for our match-up to open up as a 20+ point spread on Sunday evening.

Georgia Tech @ Maryland
, Noon, LFS/GP
"The Chan Gailey Equilibirum” demands that Tech loses this one. Plus, The Fridge seems to have his ex-team’s number.

Georgia @ Tennessee, 3:30 p.m., CBS
The winner of this one stays in the SEC East race by the skin of their teeth (or, based on the fanbases, “tooth”). The loser should start booking hotel rooms in Shreveport.

N.C. State @ Florida State, 3:30 p.m., ABC/GP
Florida State is back! Again! No…really, this time! For reals!

Oklahoma vs. Texas, 3:30 p.m., ABC/GP
This was supposed to be an important game. I guess the winner has an inside track on the Big 12 South. I have searched deep inside myself and found no reason to care.

Iowa @ Penn State, 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN
Oh, JoePa, why do you torture us so? You tease us with a good start…and now this…the battle to determine the Big 10’s biggest disappointment.

Virginia Tech @ Clemson, 6:00 p.m., ESPN
Clemson will win this one…guaranteed. Check your Tommy Bowden Choose Your Own Adventure playbook. It says, “If you just laid an egg against a mediocre conference team you had no business losing to, you are wasting talented players, you have extinguished early-season enthusiasm, the fans are starting to grumble (again), and your career is in dire jeopardy…turn to page 47.” You turn to that page…and…congratulations! "You defeat a wildly overrated team by feeding off of the jacked-up emotion of your home crowd—appeasing the critics and saving your job!" I love this book. It gets better and better every time I read it.

Florida @ LSU, 8:00 p.m., CBS
Such a huge game…so many questions. Can Florida rebound? Les or Urban…who is the sleaziest? How will Verne be able to call the game while simultaneously fellating Tim Tebow?

Notre Dame @ UCLA, 8:00 p.m., ABC/GP
If you are unfortunate enough to be in this game’s coverage are…I’m sorry. You might just want to check out Shall We Dance? on Lifetime. It really can’t be any worse.

Ohio State @ Purdue, 8:00 p.m., ABC/GP
Good defense vs. good offense. Can Purdue score enough to…wait…why the hell aren’t you watching Florida/LSU?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Kentucky Pre-Game...

Another USC/Kentucky game…yet another battle for the division lead…blah, blah, blah…

The Game
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Williams-Brice Stadium
Columbia, SC

The Set-Up
There’s nothing I can say that hasn’t been said about the importance of this game. It’s #11 vs. #8. It’s for the lead in the SEC East. It’s for a spot in the Top 10. It’s probably the most important game in Williams-Brice stadium in 25+ years.

Yes, there have been a lot of “big” games in town before. The Blackout…Auburn ’06…they were big, but in all honesty, they were mis-matches. They were longshots—an up and coming team versus and established power. David and Goliath. They were big opportunity games for a USC team that was looking to gain a foothold on the national scene.

Thursday’s night game is entirely different. These are two evenly-matched teams. Both have a lot to prove to the country. The whole college football world will be watching, waiting for one of these “pretenders” to fall so they can say, “I told you so.”

But as huge as this game is—win or lose—it’s really just another step for either team. The SEC is a brutal cycle where, each week, you must step up and prove that you belong. Kentucky has LSU and Florida lined-up next. South Carolina has a week or two to breathe before finishing out with Tennessee, Arkansas, and Florida. Win, and you survive until the next big game. Lose, and you still stay in the Top 25, waiting until your next big shot to knock off the big boys.

The Deciding Factor
Prepare yourself now…Kentucky will score a lot of points Thursday night. Andre' Woodson is the real deal. Anyone hoping for a Quincy Carter redux is going to be sorely disappointed. But as good as the Wildcat offense is, they have yet to face a defense like ours. Now, don’t expect us to shut them down; that's not going to happen. Let me say again, Kentucky will score a lot of points.

But Tyrone Nix, the master of bend-but-don’t-break, will have his boys fired up and ready to challenge Kentucky on every down. They will line up and force Woodson to earn every single yard. Look for a back-and-forth struggle all the way into the 4th quarter. There will be some huge plays given up. There will be some rough patches. But don’t get frustrated, because someone on our defense will step up and make a play when we need it most—turning the game around in its final minutes.

The Final
South Carolina, 34
Kentucky, 28

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Bowden Pick...Zapruder style

After an arduous search, we have finally uncovered a passable-quality video of The Bowden Pick. But this is not just a quick pick, ladies and gentlemen. This is a full-scale boring operation into the nether regions of Baby Bowden's nasal cavity. This is a journey into previously uncharted territory. This is the stuff of Jules Verne. Many boogers died to bring us this information.

If only he had spent more time gameplanning than mining for nose-nuggets, maybe his Tigers would still be undefeated. But alas, they were shot down by Georgia Tech in the annual Tommy Bowden Presents: A Clemson Tiger Depantsing™.

(HD quality photo courtesy the fine folks at The Hive)

Monday, October 1, 2007

Hey No

Let's kick off the week with a rousing Kentucky version of everyone's favorite four-year-old anthem to proper film developing techniques. With mad production skillz such as these, this guy...sicknode, I believe...is poised to join the Pantheon of Bluegrass State music legends—which already includes Billy Ray Cyrus, Brian Littrell, and Kevin Richardson. Yes, it's true...the state of Kentucky is responsible for two-fifths of the Backstreet Boys.

Somewhere out there, André 3000 is crying.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Kentucky Week...

The Record
4-1 (1-0 SEC East, 2-1 SEC), #11 AP Poll/#18 USAToday Coaches' Poll
Winning the type of game that Tommy Bowden always loses, Steve Spurrier guides the Gamecocks to what he calls “one of the best overall games, maybe the best, we've had in the three years I've been here.”

The Previous Week
Beat Mississippi State 38-21 in Columbia
Smelley looked sharp on an early drive as USC took a 7-0 lead, much to the delight of the disturbingly-sparse home crowd. It didn’t take the Gamecocks long to assert themselves in this one—announcing to the world that this year’s team is for real. Unfortunately, it didn’t take Mississippi State long to come right back—announcing to the world that this year’s Bulldog squad isn’t going to roll over.

After those 1st quarter salvos, things swung back-and-forth, with USC strolling into halftime with a thin 17-14 lead. Things were looking OK, but not nearly consistent enough to finish off Sylvester Croom’s much-improved Bulldogs. Halfway through, this one was still a toss-up. Surely the Gamecocks would come out clicking and clacking to start the second half—proving they were worthy of their #16 ranking.

But early into the second half, things were looking shakier that before. After a couple of seriously rough USC series, MSU took a 21-17 lead. Smelley was all over the place, we were piling up the penalties, and even our pimp kicker, Ryan Succop, missed a field goal.

Then, with the block of a punt, everything changed. After a couple of near-misses last week, we had finally blocked a kick, and Shane Beamer had earned his paycheck. Under his guidance, the special teams have steadily improved every week. And now that we’ve tasted some of that Beamer Ball magic, our opponents will be on-notice. Don’t let your guard down, or you’ll be on the ass end of a Pontiac Game-Changing Performance.

From that point on…it was over. We got touchdowns. The crowd was into it. And the defense was stifling. Coach Spurrier finally had his complete game.

The Upcoming Week
Thursday versus Kentucky in Columbia
While the Gamecocks have been compiling an admirable 4-1 start, the Kentucky Wildcats have attracted even more national acclaim—running out to a 5-0 record and a #8 national ranking.

Who saw this coming? Seriously? ESPN is probably crapping their pants as a #8 vs. #11 showdown got dropped in their laps…on a Thursday night. While it was not a stretch a month ago to call this one an important game, did anyone really think the game would take on an importance of this magnitude?

Every Gamecock who walked out of Commonwealth Stadium last year knew that we had barely survived. A game that we all thought had been in hand had suddenly turned dangerous, as Kentucky roared back and took a Hail Mary shot at the end for a win. Spurrier was pissed—infamously calling out Ron Cooper for an explanation on what happened. But as the season went on, Kentucky continued to win (including a hilarious victory over Clemson in the Music City Bowl). And by the end of the season, no one could deny that Rich Brooks had done the unthinkable and had started to build a legitimate program at Kentucky.

Which brings us to Thursday. The winner will take control of the SEC East, with Florida heading into a chainsaw down in Baton Rouge, and Georgia and Tennessee locked in a veritable elimination game in Knoxville. It’s starting to be a bit of a cliché around here, but is it not too far-fetched to call this one of the biggest games in Carolina history? The winner will be guaranteed a spot in next week’s Top 10, be in control of their own destiny, and stake their claim as “the new kid in charge” of the SEC East. The loser will go home dreaming of what might have been.

The Team
It wasn’t always pretty, but the offense clicked more often than not, eventually racking up 38 points. Smelley now has a bona fide conference victory under his belt and the confidence of his teammates. Boyd and Davis are continuing to successfully mix it up on the ground, something we will need to do with authority this week against Kentucky’s suspect rushing defense.

The defense stepped-up with the loss of Jasper Brinkley and finally kept an opponent’s rushing attack in check. At the same time, our passing defense moved up one spot in the rankings…to #1 in the country. But all of that means nothing as they face their first real test of the season in the high-flying Wildcats.

And the special teams…all of a sudden, they are truly special. For the first time in…who knows how long…maybe forever…I feel confident that we can make a game-changing play on special teams.

The Gamecock Nation
For years, we’ve been spoon-fed laudations about how we are the greatest fans in the country. And while we’ve been enjoying the praise, we’ve gotten fat and lazy. I’ve been to every Carolina home game since 1996, and its hard not to notice a trend. During the meat of the Lou Holtz years, The W-B was packed out, even for most of the crap games. But now, even though we’re a much better team, our stadium is noticeably emptier for our non-marquee games.

Well finally, someone has lashed out…that someone being Steve Spurrier. This morning on his weekly coach’s show, he launched a salvo at our fans, challenging them to attend every game…even the pedestrian ones like Mississippi State. It’s shameful that our fans have become so pansy-assed that they need their head coach to beg for them to come to games.

What the hell has happened to our so-called “loyal” fans? Hell, you can’t even call them fair-weather fans, because it was fucking gorgeous in Columbia on Saturday, and they STILL weren’t there. When you’re more concerned about the traffic on Bluff Road than the tackling on the field, you need to re-evaluate your priorities and roll-over your dead-weight season tickets to any one of the thousands of fans who would love to have your seats.

So if you can’t, for whatever pathetic reason, make it up to Columbia this Thursday, please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, give your tickets to someone who will.

Dear Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow, et al...

Karma is a bitch.

Ryan Succop

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Clemson/Georgia Tech...a disaster waiting to happen

On a roll and rising fast in the polls, Clemson is a team gaining heat on the national scene. Off to a 4-0 start against some unquestionably super-awesome competition, the Tigers look like they just might be the best team in the ACC. Which is kind of like saying Ricky Martin is the best member of Menudo.

Georgia Tech is heading into a tailspin...hard and fast. Looking good at 2-0, they've tanked the last two against an admittedly good BC team and...Virginia? Really? Virginia? Things are not looking good down at GT, and I'm not just talking about the coeds.

To most people, this would sound like a mismatch. But to people who know the history of this series...and especially the history of Tommy Bowden...it sounds like it's the perfect time for Clemson to shit their pants.

After more than eight years in Tigertown, Tommy's legacy is already etched in stone. Sure, he can win some big games, pull off a few upsets, but he will always, ALWAYS, drop a total turd at some point during the season. Wake, Duke, Wake again...it doesn't matter. Just when things start to look rosy, a land mine of crap will explode all over their faces, sending the locals into hysterics. The fans will question all they hold dear, until Tommy rises from the dead, again delivering an upset victory. Then another moment of incontinence, then another monumental victory...and so on.

Well friends, it's time for Tommy to drop another Howard's Rock-sized deuce into the laps of the Tiger faithful.

But you never know; it might not be this week. Tommy strung the delusional Tigers along all the way to an 8-0 record in 2000 before they fell...at home...leading to these wonderful pictures...to Georgia Tech. But even if they get past the Yellow Jackets this time, the flaming bag of poo is still out there. Whether it be GT, Maryland, Duke, or Wake...it's coming. Have your Depends ready, Clemson fans. Because you know you can feel it coming...and when it does...you're gonna need a new O-ring.

(Photos courtesy the fine folks at The Hive)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

#95–#91 of...

Since some people are still hungover from the LSU game, let's use this humpday to make a clean break. Forget about football for one night and get some culture. But before you head to Blockbuster, take a gander at these questionable classics in our continuing Top 100 countdown.

#95 - Moulin Rouge! (2001)
This movie is on crack. I’m not kidding…it should come with its own epilepsy warning. Within the first batshit crazy 15 minutes, you already know whether you’re going to love it or hate it—and I love every single absinthe-soaked second of it. While I’m hardly a romantic soul, this movie is SO stupidly romantic, SO wrapped up in its own insanity, you just can’t peel your eyes away. Or...you might just think it's the most horrifying thing you've ever seen.

#94 - Full Metal Jacket (1987)
There are “training is hell” movies and there are “war is hell” movies. This one is both. Like two sides of the same record, each half has its own vibe while working together toward the same Kubrickian goal. Unfortunately, Jacket tends to get lost in the Kubrick shuffle when compared to his earlier stuff. Sure, it spawned a romantic 2 Live Crew ode to horniness and created a cottage "Hey, it's that Marine guy" industry for R. Lee Ermey, but it deserves to be remembered for a lot more than that. Me love you long time.

#93 - Fantasia (1940)
Only Mickey Mouse could get little kids to sit still and listen to classical music for two hours. In this age of Shreks where every animated movie is over-stuffed with endless (and soon-to-be-dated) pop culture references, it’s refreshing to some good old pure, timeless animation. It’s a shame there’s not much of an audience for a movie like this today...not enough Starbucks jokes.

#92 - Miller’s Crossing (1990)
Probably the Coens' best, but still one of their least seen. It’s without a doubt right up there in the pantheon of gangster flicks. Absolutely classic is the wacky, hyper-violent “musical number/assassination action sequence” involving Albert Finney, a tommy gun, and some assassins—all set to the song “Danny Boy.” Just think The Godfather plus O Brother, Where Art Thou?. If you like either of those movies, you owe it to yourself to see this one.

#91 - Clerks (1994)
An inspiration to anyone who has ever worked behind a counter and dealt with the stupidity of the average customer. This is the movie that started the six-movie cult “Jay and Silent Bob” franchise. And that’s not even including their epic appearance in Scream 3. This tiny little movie’s impact was huge—helping to put indie movies on the map. Great soundtrack, too.

The rest of the countdown so far...

Cocks beware...exceptionaly clever MSU fans will pumble you with their smack

Normally, I wouldn't take a shot at a kid...for fear of being berated by Mike Gundy. But this picture, taken during last year's College World Series, deserves comment.

Here we have a young State fan that was clearly just set up for failure. Allowed to craft this sign by his dictionary-deficient parents—and a proud product of our country's 48th Smartest State—little Billy Bulldog never had a chance. So give a wide grammatical berth to MSU fans this weekend in The W-B, lest you be pumbled.

(Photo courtesy of a reader at the awesome With Leather)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This lapdance needs more cowbell

Straight from Starkghanistan, I bring you some of Mississippi State's finest. As an exotic dancer, this young Bulldog's form leaves a lot to be desired. But I think I see some offensive line potential here. Look at the perfect stance, the lateral movement, the ability to get low to the ground...someone get Coach Croom on the phone, ASAP.

Oh, and get me a barf bag while you're at it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Mississippi State Week...

The Record
3-1 (1-0 SEC East, 1-1 SEC), #16 AP Poll/#21 USAToday Coaches' Poll
Losing is never good. But when you lose and then only drop four spots, you must be doing something right.

The Previous Week
Lost to LSU 28-16 in Baton Rouge
We all learned a tough lesson from SOS after the Auburn game last year…don’t cheer for your team when they lose. So I wasn’t cheering in celebration last Saturday night, but walking back to our car from Death Valley, I couldn’t help but feel pretty good about the whole experience. Considering the 48-7 depantsing Virginia Tech got down there a few weeks ago, our Gamecocks came out looking practically victorious. I’m not sure whether that says more about how hilariously awful the ACC is or how much progress USC has made in becoming competitive against any SEC team anywhere. Losing by only 12 in the brutally oppressive home stadium of the nation’s best team appears downright courageous compared to what most people thought might happen.

But you could turn that score inside and out still not figure out quite what it means, though. I’ll be the first to admit that it FELT like we lost by more than that. But upon closer inspection, one LSU touchdown was on special teams, and another was surrendered on a short field after a turnover. I expected big things out of our defense, but they surpassed even those expectations by really only giving up two honest-to-goodness scoring drives against the Bayou Bengals.

The offense is another story. Unable to find a running game against the LSU defense (I can’t wait to see what they do to Tebow), we turned to the air…and eventually to Chris Smelley. It’s not that Blake was horrible, it’s just that he wasn’t getting things done. When you quarterback for Steve Spurrier, you are expected to get your team into the end zone…period. When you don’t, it’s time to find someone who can. Smelley turned out to be that guy. He wasn’t stellar either, but he got us going in the 4th quarter, making things a lot more respectable.

The Upcoming Week
Saturday versus Mississippi State in Columbia
The Chris Smelley Experience gets underway for real this Saturday. The team is now his. Screw it up, and we’re back to Mitchell. Yep, we’ve got ourselves a Steve Spurrier Quarterback Controversy™! SOS has jerked around QBs to great success, so it should be fun to see what the competition evolves into this Saturday.

But how about that opponent…Mississippi State? 3-1 and playing with a lot more spunk than last year’s team, the Bulldogs are not a team to be overlooked. By beating Auburn, they announced to the rest of the SEC that they are genuinely up for a fight. Honestly they’re the perfect competition for us this weekend. If Smelley were to go nuts against Southwest Dingleberry State, what could we seriously take from it? Mississippi State is a good team that is certainly capable of beating us, so a win on Saturday would be a win well deserved…regardless of whoever is leading the charge.

The Team
A 12-point loss at LSU should not hurt our team’s morale in the slightest. This was, by far, the most daunting game on our schedule. And to perform that admirably, they should believe they can beat anyone.

But for the Gamecocks to make it to Atlanta, we’re going to have to overcome a lot more than our own insecurities. This afternoon, news came from the team that Jasper Brinkley is now done for the season. The linchpin for our highly-ranked defense, Jasper was without a doubt the straight-up nastiest Gamecock to take the field in years. And in a defense whose only one true weakness is run defense, losing a future NFL first round linebacker is even more of a kick to the gut. Who will step up? Ingram? Shackleford? This is a crippling blow that must be overcome before Kentucky’s pinball machine offense comes into town for next week’s monster matchup.

The Gamecock Nation
When you’re in the hunt for conference championships, moral victories just aren’t going to cut it. But even with the defeat in Death Valley and the loss of Brinkley, we still have every reason to be confident that this team can be special. Is that a moral victory? Maybe, but if my belief in this team is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

Looking ahead, it’s hard not to salivate over a 7-1 record and Top 10 ranking heading into Knoxville. It’s right there on the schedule just waiting to be taken. A Top 15 showdown with Kentucky next Thursday looms as a huge roadblock to that dream, but beat MSU this week and we could be in for something epic.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Reauxd Trip!

Every five years, Gamecock fans are handed a gift of a road trip. Other SEC West trips may roll on and off the schedule—ranging from the dreadful (Starkghanistan) to the nearly impossible to get to (Fayetteville). But every five years, shining like a bourbon-infused beacon, is Baton Rouge.

Just a hop-skip-and-a-jump over the bayou from New Orleans (we’ll get back to that in a minute), Baton Rouge takes the cauldron of excitement that is college football, and adds a whole bucket of Cajun crazy. As a visiting fan, you will endure endless “Tiger Bait!” taunting…and you will like it! Respond to these taunts with a laugh and you will probably be rewarded in return with free beer and free food. Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce what they give you…and certainly don’t ask what’s in it. Just eat it; it’s good.

After our last trip to LSU, many Carolina fans returned with tales of verbal and physical abuse. We saw no such thing. I’m not denying that it happened, I’m just saying that if you go into that inferno with thin skin…you’re probably asking to be hurt in some way. Suck it up and enjoy the abuse. Coonass love is tough love.

While you’re there, you need to walk around the campus, hit the bookstore, and then walk over the Parade Grounds towards downtown. There you will find The Chimes…a great bar/restaurant where you can down a few before or after the game. When we were there last time, people were lubing up for the night game while taking in the feeble JP 12:30 game on TV. This year, the day game kind of cuts down on the pre-game festivities, so maybe you should swing by after the game. Just don’t taunt them too abusively after our win.

Before you head into the stadium, you have to check out the $3 million Tiger habitat. The beloved Mike V kicked the bucket earlier this year, so be on the lookout for the brand new Mike VI. He may look cute, but he would not hesitate for a second to go all Siegfried & Roy on your ass. This Saturday’s game also just so happens to be Mike VI’s debut in Death Valley. He’s never been into the stadium before on gameday, so God knows what’s going to happen. When you bring a flesh-eating beast into your stadium, you are asking for bloodshed. Sir Big Spur might peck at your finger, Uga might shit on your carpet, and Ralphie might trample you if you get in his way, but Mike VI is clearly the only live mascot in America that would jump at the chance to disembowel you and happily much on your innards while your heart is still beating.


Once you’re inside the stadium, expect it to be loud. If you’ve been to The Swamp, you’ll know what you’re in for…very similar. Pray that your team keeps things under control, because if the LSU fans sense blood, they’ll ratchet up the sound, the Tigers will respond, and things could get ugly in a hurry. Any Gamecocks who survived the trip in 2002 will remember the disastrous third quarter when everything fell apart. To this day, I still swear that something happened to our team in the lockerroom. I don’t know if that infamous Cajun Magic is to blame, but we walked out at halftime a different team. After that, our season—and Lou Holtz’s tenure at USC—was as good as dead.

Regardless of the outcome this time, I guarantee you will have a good time in Baton Rouge. And while you’re down there, you may want to swing by a little town called New Orleans. I hear they may have a few good bars there, so my crew will be checking it out Thursday night, Friday night, and maybe even Saturday night. See you there...laissez les bons temps rouler!

And Go Cocks.

Pat O'Briens and the Goblet of Fire

Monday, September 17, 2007

Gameday to Sabanation...Corso admires the view

Prepare for the full intra-rectal Saban rimjob from ESPN this week.

Should we start feeling sorry for Jimmy Clausen?

Nah. Another year, another "Yakety Sax" Notre Dame highlight reel from MGoBlog.

Remember that brief moment in time when Charlie Weis was mentioned to replace Lou Holtz? I shudder to think.

LSU Week...

The Record
3-0 (1-0 SEC East, 1-0 SEC), #12 AP Poll/#14 USAToday Coaches' Poll
#12? Really? #12? The 12th best team in the nation? The same University of South Carolina Gamecocks who played in Williams-Brice Stadium Saturday night? There are only 11 teams better than us? #12? This is gonna be a looooong week…

The Previous Week
Beat SC State 38-3 in Columbia
"I wasn't throwing the ball as well I can," Mitchell said. "I just played like crap really." You don’t say? When you set out to be a “Steve Spurrier Quarterback,” please try to be a little more Wuerffel, a little less Grossman. Blake was chucking the pigskin all over the field like Quincy Carter, but mercifully directing most of the giveaways deep downfield. However, when a team turns the ball over 5 times and still wins by 35, something had to be going right. The running game was unstoppable, chewing up chunks of yardage and moving us steadily down the field. The defense was incredible again, smothering the hapless SC State offense and getting the ball back to our manic-depressive offense early and often.

The Upcoming Week
Saturday versus LSU in Baton Rouge
They’ve been called the best team in the SEC, and possibly the country. They’ve also been called a gorilla with a chainsaw for a dick. But this week we’re calling them gracious hosts. After a long Friday night in New Orleans (see you at Patty O’s, Blake!), it’s off to Baton Rouge for a relatively early 3:30 game. As a fan, it sucks to miss out on a night game in Death Valley, but it’s gotta help our chances of winning. Since 1960, LSU is 202-59-3 at home in night games and only 19-22-3 in day games. We’ll take any advantage we can get.

The Team
Go ahead and laugh at our ranking and crack on our quarterbacks, but I really don’t care…we’re 3-0. No matter how rough we may have looked so far, we’re still putting together what might become one of our best seasons ever. This team is starting to take on the identity of one of those teams that runs the ball, plays great defense, and just manages to win. It may look ugly, but we’re dragging you down with us. It worked for Ohio State in 2002.

The Gamecock Nation
Is this the biggest game in USC history? It could be. If we win, we would vault into the top 10 and have realistic shot at being 8-0 heading in to Knoxville. But if we lose…what do we lose? Get blown out and it could be a very short stay in the rankings, but keep it respectable and we could hang around in the top 20. Hell, look at what LSU did to VT and the Hokies are already back up at #17. What’s the shame in losing at the #2 team in the country?

But why talk about losing when we can win this sucker? It’s not that far-fetched. As fans, we need to look at this game with confidence. Even if you’re not confident we’re going to win, you need to be confident that we can win. Don’t take too much away from the laughable SC State game. We were there, we were in the stadium, we saw our team stumble into a 35-point win. But let’s keep it on the downlow, nobody has to know.

As a program, I think we’re passed the days of getting romped on the road. This is a different USC team and we should expect a different outcome. It’s going to take a monumental effort from the Gamecocks, but this team can do it. The rest of the nation clearly didn’t watch the SC State game, because they vaulted us way into the top 15. And if that’s where they want to put us, then we should act like we belong. Starting today, the University of South Carolina Gamecocks are a top 15 program. So act like you’ve been there before…even if you haven’t.

Friday, September 14, 2007

SC State Pre-Game...

Contrary to the buzz around Gamecock Nation, we are not playing LSU this week. It's SC State, people, SC State. Focus!

The Game
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Williams-Brice Stadium
Columbia, SC

The Set-Up
Stuck between an emotional upset win in Athens and a looming opportunity of historical proportions in Baton Rouge, the SC State game sets up like a trap game if there ever was one.

The Bulldogs have been waiting 100 years to play this game…and who could blame them? It’s mind-boggling to think that we’ve never met SC State on the gridiron. Heck, we even played a boatload of games against The Citadel down in Orangeburg, yet we’ve never crossed paths with the hometown Bulldogs.

The SC State faithful will come to town ready to party. I went to an SC State/Furman game up in Paladin Stadium several years ago, and it was a raucous atmosphere…an atmosphere not frequently seen in the shadow of Paris Mountain, let me assure you. It was a culture clash for sure, but a fun time was had by all.

There’s no reason why this Saturday should be any different as we welcome our fellow South Cackalackians to Columbia. Rumors of turmoil surrounding the game are disappointing, and frankly, a little embarrassing. But if you, Mr. Confederate Flag at Gameday Guy, decide that this Saturday would be a dandy time to pull out your relic banner, you honestly deserve whatever comes to you.

This is a historic meeting between two proud fanbases that are separated by a handful of miles, but not by the undying love of their schools. I look forward to kicking-off a new era of competition between the Gamecocks and Bulldogs tomorrow night at 7:00pm. Oh, and halftime…that should be fun, too.

The Deciding Factor
Talent. Skill. Speed. Honestly, there’s no way this should even be close. App State, App State, App State…yeah, I know. But SC State isn’t even close to the same level as Appy, or even Wofford, within the FCS. There is a talent gap here of epic proportions. When you’re playing with Clemson’s rejects, you know you’ve got problems.

I have a lot of respect for Buddy Pough, but he just doesn’t have the weapons to keep up in the arms race that will be going on in The W-B Saturday night.

The Final
South Carolina, 42
SC State, 14

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Learn you some movies...

You've waited 100 years for this Saturday's USC/SC State matchup, so what's two more days? And no matter how much we want to, it's not really healthy to talk about football all the time...or so I've been told. So let's take a step back from football and have ourselves a cultural breather before the weekend.

Crack open your Netflix queue and get ready to fill it up, because you're about to get yourself edumacated about some film. Here's our first weekly installment—#100-#96—of what will surely be the most definitive Top 100 movie list ever...

#100 - Starship Troopers (1997)
Gleefully retarded on the surface, this movie has a LOT more going on than it seems. You've got shiny special effects, pretty actors acting pretty poorly, and hilarious fascist propaganda. And while our heroes are off killing the bugs, you're left to ponder the deeper themes of fascism, patriotism, loyalty, bravery, unisex showers, the starship-piloting abilities of Denise Richards, and the profound creepiness of Jake Busey.

#99 - Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Cruel, sadistic, and razor-sharp, it’s literally two hours of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton ripping each other to shreds. Kind of a direct ancestor to Closer, this movie is loaded with enough verbal and emotional abuse to shock even today’s viewers...not bad for a 40-year old movie. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll probably need a couple hours of therapy to cleanse yourself.

#98 - The Big Lebowski (1998)
One of the most quotable movies of all-time, this one is best savored with friends on multiple, multiple viewings. And a little pot wouldn't hurt, either. But it’s more than just a stupid stoner comedy. It's an absurd, stylish, and complex stupid stoner comedy...courtesy of the Coen Brothers. It's not their best…but it's definitely my favorite and without a doubt their most addictive. And proud we are of all of them.

#97 - Stagecoach (1939)
By Deadwood standards, this movie is a little dated, and surprisingly F-bomb free. But since this is the Western that started it all, I'll give it a break. I don't want to make excuses, but you just kind of have to get past the stiff acting. And the stilted dialogue. And the opressively sappy music. And the white actors as Indians. But other than that stuff. It's actually still really good, in a crappy old movie kind of way.

#96 - Scream (1996)
For good or bad, Scream single-handedly revived the horror genre. And while theaters today are littered with crappy clones, none can even come close to the cleverness of the original. Loaded with pop-culture references, self-aware dialogue, snarky characters, sight gags, and red herrings...it's like Halloween meets Clueless. Of special note: the Rose McGowan garage scene.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gamecock Gazette: USC band gets a beatdown

It's been a while, but finally here's a new Gazette. And for the record, I have nothing but love for the band.


Remember that time we beat Georgia?

Less than 60 hours after the clock hit 00:00 in Athens, this arrives in my mailbox...

Postcard front

Postcard back

Some cynics are asking why the Gamecock Club is spending money on this instead of sending our band to LSU. Others are dismissing the mailing as another plea for cash. Both sides are probably a little bit right. But, damn, if it didn't feel great to open my mailbox and see it.

We beat Georgia? Hells yeah, we did!

In the end, it probably didn't cost much at all to send it out...far less than what it would cost to send a band to Louisiana. The goodwill this thing generates is worth far more as our program ramps up and donors see their Gamecock Club $$$ turn into an upper deck on the North End Zone. And if we pull off a stunner in Baton Rouge next week, the Club can exhaust their entire yearly budget on sending each member a singing telegram, for all I care.