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 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 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.