Seeking Perspective on the Gamecocks Season


Success can bring a lot of things to a sports program: confidence, prestige, additional revenue and a larger, more enthusiastic fan base.  It also brings with it greater expectations and the pressure to meet those expectations.  A great disappointment also comes when the team falls short.  The Gamecock football team is currently feeling the burden of that disappointment.  Over the past three seasons, they had compiled 33 wins, extended a record streak over the orange team, had numerous big moments and firsts for the program, and put over 20 players on NFL rosters.  This season they sit at a 4-5, after starting with a top 10 ranking.  The quick rise of the South Carolina football team was extremely enjoyable for the players, coaches and fans alike.  The disappointment the fans feel this season, is felt equally by the players and coaches as well.
What’s needed now for Gamecock fans is perspective.  Longtime fans should remember where we were before the current run of success.  New fans that have come aboard during this run should understand that recent success comes after decades of mediocrity.  When Coach Spurrier was first hired here, I spoke with a loyal fan – a 30+ year season ticket holder who told me that all he really wanted was 3 straight years with a winning record, because he had rarely experienced that in a lifetime of cheering for the Gamecocks.
Think about that for a second.  As of a decade ago, this program had put together 3 straight winning seasons only once since the 1930’s.  Now after six straight years with a winning record, the team is staring at the possibility of its first losing season since 2003.  With three games remaining this season, the team needs two wins to avoid that.  With a home game against South Alabama sandwiched between away games verses rivals Florida and Clemson, two wins are by no means a lock.  Having watched this team lose late leads this season, it is growing harder to have confidence that we will get the two wins necessary to finish off this season with more wins than losses.  However, being ahead late in so many games shows that they have the ability to wins these games as well.  Now just a few positive plays in the 4th quarter are needed to finish games off. 
Having seen so many ups and downs in a lifetime of following the Gamecocks, the fear for most fans is that this year of struggles may mean the end of the success we have recently enjoyed.  As has been stated on this site before, this defense is young and still developing.  There is plenty of room for growth.  To add a bit of perspective to our team’s situation, defending SEC Champion Auburn was 3-9 in 2012, spent most of that season mired in negativity, yet rebounded to play for the National Title last season.  I’m not saying that such a turnaround is likely for USC, but continuing to build on the success of the last five years is much more likely than regressing into mediocrity.
Fans of any struggling team must strike a balance between voicing their disappointment, and adding to the negativity that sub-par performances bring.  Keeping things in perspective is the best way to do that.  Gamecock fans are known for their loyalty, supporting this team through many lean years, and now after tasting higher levels of success, that kind of support is needed again to help a struggling team regain some confidence and finish strong.  Take it from someone who has the ticket stubs from the wins that bookend 0-21 streak – the lows have been much lower here, and there are still highs left to achieve.