Monday, May 22, 2006

South Carolina Football...A History lesson...good read

This is a great article about South Carolina Football. I haven't seen a better written article ever.

This is South Carolina Football:

On December 24 1892, The University of South Carolina began a storied football tradition by losing to instate rival Furman 44-0 in Charleston. The Gamecocks compiled a 0-3 record in their first two seasons and did not score an offensive point those two seasons. South Carolina football was born, as was a losing tradition that would continue over the next 111 seasons.

South Carolina has an all-time winning percentage under .500, which ranks 90th all-time in Div-1A football history... only 27 of the 117 programs who are currently competing at the Div-1A level have been worse. A few of the notable football programs who have been better than the Gamecocks include such powerhouses as: Rutgers, UNLV, Central Florida, Western Michigan, North Texas, San Diego State, Tulsa, Toledo, Navy, Ball State, Northern Illinois, Duke, East Carolina, Akron, Baylor, Utah State, Troy, San Jose State, Vanderbilt, Kansas, and Kentucky, just to name a few. Of the 62 teams in the history of Div-1A football who have played 980 or more games, only 7 programs have won fewer games than South Carolina. That’s right, more than 87% of those 62 schools have been better. Forty-six teams have played 1,050 games in their schools history and only two of them have yet to win 500 games…Northwestern and South Carolina. On November 6th 2004, South Carolina won their 495th football game by defeating Arkansas 35-32 in Columbia. It was the Gamecocks 1049th contest in schools history. Of the 62 programs that have won 495 or more games, only one took more games to achieve this milestone than South Carolina…that’s correct, only 1 out of 61…Cincinnati accomplished this feat in their 1064th game. This is South Carolina football.

Since the Associated Press began ranking football teams in 1936, the Cocks have finished in the Top 20 of the rankings only five times in the 69 years. Of the schools who have played Div-1A football for more than half of those 69 seasons, only 17 of them have finished in the Top 20 fewer times than the Gamecocks. South Carolina has never finished in the Top 10 of a major recognized poll... NEVER Only 27 other current Div-1A teams who have played at least thirty seasons at the Div-1A level have never had a Top 10 finish. This is South Carolina football.

The first year of Gamecock football was in 1892, Carolina won its first bowl game 103 years later. In 111 seasons of football, Carolina has yet to participate in one of the “Big 5” Bowls (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Cotton). Of the 100 Div-1A teams who have participated in a bowl game, Carolina’s 11 appearances are tied with four other teams for 58th all-time, Carolina’s 3 wins are 87th all-time. Seventy-two schools have been to 9 or more bowl games, and of those 72 schools, South Carolina’s .273 bowl winning percentage ranks 72nd…that’s correct, LAST.

As Carolina is set to begin its 112th season of collegiate football, they have won 10 or more games in a single season once. South Carolina has won more games than it lost only 51 times. South Carolina has won 6 or more games in a season 34 times, and lost 6 or more 35 times. This is South Carolina football.

In conference play, Carolina has been even more unsuccessful. In the 61 seasons South Carolina has been affiliated with a conference, they have won that conference only once... the ACC in 1969, with a 7-4 record. South Carolina’s overall all-time winning percentage of .492 ranks 11th out of the 12 current SEC schools, only Mississippi State has been worse. Since joining the SEC in 1992, Carolina has had a winning record in the conference twice. In the thirteen seasons as a member of the SEC, Carolina boasts an overall conference record of 37-66-1…only two teams have been worse: Kentucky has 27 wins, Vanderbilt 13. Although Carolina has yet to finish in the top two of the Eastern division, they have finished last twice. Carolina has yet to win six conference games in a season, something only Kentucky and Vanderbilt have done over the past 12 seasons. Since 1992, only once has a conference member failed to win a game overall in a single season…you guessed it, South Carolina. In fact, the Gamecocks went two consecutive seasons without winning one conference game, not one. Since 1992, only three times has any non-probation member of the conference failed to win two or more games overall in a season…South Carolina has accomplished this feat twice, Kentucky once. South Carolina’s all-time record versus other current conference members is even more unimpressive: 3-9 vs Alabama, 5-8 vs Arkansas, 1-4-1 vs Auburn, 3-19-3 vs Florida, 13-42-2 vs Georgia, 9-6-1 vs Kentucky, 2-14-1 vs LSU, 5-8 vs Ole Miss, 5-6 vs Mississippi St., 2-19-2 Vs Tennessee, and 12-2 Vs Vanderbilt. That’s correct, Carolina leads the all-time series against 2 SEC teams... Kentucky and Vanderbilt. South Carolina boasts an all time record of 60-137-8 against current SEC teams, a .2926 winning percentage…good enough for 12th out of the current 12 SEC members…that’s correct, LAST. This is South Carolina football.

But, the comparison of only 13 seasons in one conference does no justice to the tradition of South Carolina football. So lets compare the Cocks record versus Div-1A schools they have played 20 or more times: 36-62-4 Vs Clemson, 17-24-3 Vs Duke, 3-19-3 Vs Florida, 13-42-2 Vs Georgia, 9-12 Vs Georgia Tech,11-17 Vs Maryland, 16-34-4 Vs North Carolina, 25-26-4 Vs North Carolina State, 2-19-2 Vs Tennessee, 21-12-1 Vs Virginia, and 33-21-2 Vs Wake Forest. That’s correct, Carolina leads the all-time series against 2 of these 11 teams... Virginia and Wake Forest. This is South Carolina football.

South Carolina’s futility is not limited to their pitiable record of wins and losses, several other factors contribute to South Carolina’s storied custom of failures. They include…
**Unsuccessful coaches: South Carolina has had 32 different head coaches in its storied tradition... only six of them stayed longer than 5 seasons, 22 of them have losing records.
**Players drafted by the NFL: Since the NFL Draft began in 1967, SEC institutions have an illustrious history of players selected in the first round…well not all SEC schools. Only four teams have failed to have at least nine players selected in the first round…Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Mississippi State, and of course South Carolina.
**Home field advantage: Since joining the SEC, the Cocks are 62-80-1 overall at home and 21-34-1 in conference play.
**Offensive Production: It’s another Carolina Touchdown!?…not quite. Although the inaugural shutout loss to Furman in 1894 was the Gamecocks first scoreless game, it wasn't’t their last. The Gamecocks have failed to score a single point in 160 games, over 15% of their contests. They have scored in single digits in 395 of their 1051 games, a staggering mark of 37.5%. Of the 46 programs, which have played more than 1050 games all-time, only one (Northwestern) has scored fewer points than South Carolina in their schools history. Of the 62 programs that have played in 980 or more games, only five have scored fewer points than South Carolina. South Carolina’s 7.8 points per game in 1999 is the fewest in SEC play since the conference expanded to 12 members in 1992. That season, South Carolina scored more than 10 points in three of their eleven games, and scored more than 14 points only once.
**Fan traditions: South Carolina fans began a practice of tearing down goalposts following “big” victories. In 2000, after beating New Mexico State at home to snap a 21 game losing streak the goalposts were torn down in Williams-Brice Stadium. It was a monumental win for the Gamecocks, beating a team who had enjoyed as much success as New Mexico State. The Aggies entered the game with 3 winning seasons over the previous 33 years, and an overall record of 40-136 during the previous 16 seasons.
**Rivalries: Another important component of football tradition are rivalries. According to South Carolina fans, their biggest two rivalries are Clemson and Georgia. The Gamecocks have compiled a 48-105-6 record against these two schools. Over the past 47 seasons, South Carolina has played both Georgia and Clemson in the same season 42 times. The Gamecocks have beaten both teams in the same season five times since 1958, and have lost to both teams in the same season 21 times over that span. Gamecock fans believe the next most important games are against Eastern Division opponents Florida and Tennessee. Carolina has a combined record of 5-38-5 against these two teams. Of the 5 wins against the two schools, only one has come since 1936, a one-point victory 13 seasons ago. The Citadel and Davidson College have each defeated Carolina more times (The Citadel – 8; Davidson - 14) than the Gamecocks have beaten these two Eastern Division teams combined (5). To put South Carolina’s lack of success against these four “rivalries” into perspective, the Gamecocks combined .2514 winning percentage against these four programs is lower than the combined winning percentage of The Citadel, East Carolina, Davidson and Presbyterian have against South Carolina (.3030).
This is South Carolina football.

But all this tradition and past records are meaningless. What is more important is the recent history. Only losers live in the past. We are in the best years of Carolina Gamecock football, and the future has never been brighter... or has it? After leading South Carolina to their most successful two-year run in the programs history, many Cocks believed Lou Holtz had brought his winning ways to Columbia…he failed like twenty-one coaches who preceded him. Lou Holtz retired after the 2004 season, with a 33-37 record. South Carolina failed to make the post-season for the 8th time in the past 10 seasons. Holtz’ tenure was just another in a long line of recent Gamecock failures. South Carolina’s record since 1995: 49-64-1, which is 82nd among 117 Div-1A teams over the same period. Since Joining the SEC: 66-81-1, which is 74th among Div-1A teams over the same period. Since 1990: 75-92-3, which is 71st among Div-1A teams over the same span. Carolina has finished in the Top 15 once in the past 16 seasons, and been to three bowl games in that span. This is South Carolina football.

After consecutive bowl appearances in 2000 and 2001, South Carolina was coming off of their most successful two year run in the programs history. The Gamecocks 17 wins during that period was the most by any South Carolina team over a two-year span. Only 17 other current Div-1A schools that have fielded a team 15 or more seasons have failed to win 18 or more games in consecutive seasons. Carolina was going to keep the momentum and 2002 was the season that the Cocks would breakthrough and finally surpass Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida. They would finally get over ‘the hump’ to capture the Eastern Division Championship. You had two Heisman candidates in the same backfield, Pinnock and Jenkins. You mixed up all the ingredients to produce another sub .500 record, and another 0-for against the Big 3 from the East, and another loss to instate rival Clemson. The Carolina Heisman candidate at RB finished with less than 50 yards per game rushing, and the Heisman candidate at QB finished the season at DB. But, wait there is always next year.

2003 would be the year that Holtz previous recruiting seasons would begin to pay dividends. The team no longer had any ‘cancers’ and was again united. Team unity, young stars, and maturity at QB would get South Carolina back to a New Years Day Bowl game. Your most hated rival would be down and a Carolina victory at home on the seasons last game would likely lead to the departure of the rival coaching staff. The best High School Running Back to ever step on a field made a pledge in February to attend South Carolina, and bring glory to Columbia. That Running Back ended the season by leading the team with 58 yards per game rushing in his first season in Columbia…3 Freshmen Running Backs in the conference were better. Your QB who had matured, and finally had a grasp of the offense? He finished with the lowest completion percentage in the conference, as well as the fewest yards. Again, it was a sub .500 record overall, 2-6 in the conference, another 0-for against the Big 3 from the East. And the season finale that would send your instate rival back to the drawing board and end the coaching career of Tommy Bowden instead ended in a 46-point home loss.

Seventeen of Twenty-two starters returned for 2004, and with it came high expectations. Returning was your entire offensive backfield. You brought in a new defensive coordinator who was going to implement a new scheme that would be a better fit for your young defensive talent. On offense, Lou took over play calling duties and was supposed take Carolina to the top by grinding it out on the ground. And when your Senior QB would be presented with the situation when he must throw, Coach Holtz said he was going to “shock the conference”. The season began with a blowout win over Vanderbilt, and a 16-point lead midway through the second quarter over highly touted Georgia. But, then the reality of what the true description of South Carolina football is occurred, South Carolina wouldn't’t score again until the South Florida game. When the season ended, this group of Gamecocks etched their name next to failures of the past. Once again South Carolina failed to reach the post-season Once again, they ended conference play without a winning record. For the third season in a row they went 0-4 against the big three from the East and in state rival Clemson. The lopsided defeats in the 2004 contests against these four teams brought the total point differential margin to 191 points that Carolina has been outscored by in those four “rivalry” games over the last three seasons. South Carolina has allowed 23 or more points in nine of those games, and scored 23 or more only once. The Quarterback who was going to “shock the conference” didn't’t make it to the third game of the season. Gamecock players gave Coach Holtz an early retirement gift during the final contest of the season in a 22-point loss to Clemson by delaying the game nearly ten minutes midway through the fourth quarter. The reason for the delay was frustrated South Carolina players started an ugly on-field altercation. The actions led to a post-season ban by the University. A team that had positioned itself to accomplish what only 11 teams before them had accomplished, instead took their place in Gamecock history as the 100th team that failed to reach post-season Coach Holtz called the scene, his “biggest disappointment.” For many it was just another chapter of “This is South Carolina football.”

On November 23, 2004, South Carolina named Steve Spurrier as the schools Head Football Coach. Spurrier brings to South Carolina a .777 college winning percentage. His resume includes six SEC titles, one ACC title, and one national championship. Coach Spurrier holds the mark with the all-time highest winning percentage in SEC play. Spurrier will also bring to Columbia the highest expectations in the schools history. Spurrier finished in the Final AP Top 15 twelve consecutive seasons at Florida, so that is what we should expect at South Carolina. Spurrier had a career record of 11-1 against Georgia while at the Gator helm, so that is what we should expect at South Carolina. Gamecock players have greeted Coach Spurrier’s arrival in emblematic Carolina fashion with an abundance of team rules violations and felony arrests. In January, six players were charged after a total of $18,000 worth of computer and video equipment and framed photographs were taken from South Carolina's stadium in late November. The incident resulted in Offensive Lineman Woody Telfort being charged with a felony count of grand larceny, and numerous other charges against players. On March 1st leading rusher Demetris Summers was dismissed from the team. A day later, Tackle Kevin Mainord was arrested for stealing televisions from dorm rooms. Defensive End Moe Thompson was also arrested on similar charges six days later. On April 16th, two more Gamecock players, Josh Johnson and Ty Erving, were arrested and charged with simple marijuana possession. Less than two weeks later, WR David Smith pled guilty to third degree burglary. In late May, Linebacker Dustin Lindsey was charged with DUI. On June 23rd, Cory Boyd was dismissed from the team. In all, twelve players have been arrested in the 2005 calendar year. It’s been a typical Gamecock off-season But, all will be suppressed in less than two months, when 111 years of South Carolina’s losing tradition will be changed. The man who will single-handedly change the program has arrived in Columbia…sounds similar to what we were told before Holtz’ arrival. When Spurrier accepted the job to lead the Gamecocks, he commented, “they really haven’t ever done much here.” No kidding Steve, welcome to South Carolina football.


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