Football Enthusiasm More Reserved After Last Season


A year ago, the Gamecocks were coming off their third straight 11-win season, and ranked in the pre-season top 10.  Fans, media and coaches were almost over the top with enthusiasm thinking about the possibilities for the upcoming season.  Everyone was very high on the new recruiting class and their ability to make an immediate impact, and there was talk that the only two big concerns for the coming year were Georgia and Auburn.  People felt if they could go 1-1 in those two games, there might be a shot for the new college football playoffs.  All of those hopes and dreams were shattered before halftime of the first game when it was obvious the Gamecocks were not as good as everyone said and hoped they were.  Instead of playoffs, they battled in a December bowl game to finish over .500 for the season.

Last week, South Carolina signed a new class of recruits, many of which fill the exact needs of the team and could make a huge impact on the team this coming season. Monday, the Board of Trustees is expected to meet at 10am to approve the contract for Jon Hoke, expected to be named the new co-defensive coordinator.  Coach Steve Spurrier is meeting with the press later that afternoon at 4pm to discuss in more detail the role Hoke will play, but is expected to be named the passing defensive coordinator.  Hoke was defensive coordinator under Spurrier at Florida from 1999-2001 and has been an assistant coach in the NFL for the past 13 seasons.

With this new recruiting class and the addition of Jon Hoke to the coaching staff, fans and media want to be excited.  They want to have hope that these changes will bring back the winning ways of those three 11-win seasons, and a renewed level of excellence.  But after last year, and the giant letdown that occurred, no one is willing to get that excited.  No one is willing to make bold predictions about the season ahead.  No one wants to feel that way again.

But you start look ahead at spring practice starting on March 17, then you think about what the spring game on April 11 might be like.  When you really look at the recruits, and think about this new coach being added, it’s hard to not get excited and start thinking about the possibilities – could we win the SEC East?  Would our defense be good enough to win the SEC Championship?  Is this our year?

You get a gleam in your eye, drift off thinking about it the possibilities, and suddenly you think “oh wait, who IS going to be our quarterback?  And who IS that person going to throw to?”.