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. 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 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

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 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.