George Rogers Statue Unveiled But SC Should Not Stop There


One of the big focuses under the direction of Athletics Director Ray Tanner has been to make improvements of the athletic facilities. One such improvement has been the upgrades that have taken place outside of Williams-Brice Stadium. Perhaps the most intriguing and talked about has been the statue created to honor Gamecock legend, George Rogers.

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George Rogers is arguably the greatest Gamecock football player of all time. He’s the only Heisman Trophy winner out of the University of South Carolina. Rogers rushed for 5,204 yards during his career, which is the most of any running back. That’s not his only record, however. Rogers also holds the single season record for rushing yards with 1,894 his senior season. He was the number one overall draft pick in the 1981 NFL Draft, and was named The Sporting News NFL Rookie of the Year after leading the league in rushing with 1674 yards.

Rogers doesn’t deserve recognition for his accomplishments. He has earned it. The recognition he receives today is long overdue. The Gamecocks have failed for many, many years in connecting its present to its past. Sterling Sharpe did not step foot on campus since his playing days until about a year ago, for example.

Many basketball players have been forgotten and not recognized for their accomplishment until recent years as well. Many younger fans, do not understand how big basketball was under Frank McGuire or the history of the program. The history among South Carolina athletics may not be as impressive as some other schools.

We do not have an illustrious football history. We do not have an illustrious basketball history. No national championships in major sports outside of baseball. The history that has been successful should not be lumped in with the lack of success and forgotten, however.

It’s a shame that it’s taken so long for South Carolina to embrace its past accomplishment because the past accomplishments have not been shameful. Ray Tanner has done a great job reaching out and building connections with past athletes and getting them back on campus to visit. Frank Martin has also stressed the importance of connecting our past to our present. Steve Spurrier also recognizes the importance of remembering the past.

Today’s unveiling of the statue of George Rogers is fitting. As the facilities at South Carolina continue to change, the past will continue to be remembered and honored. George Rogers should get the great honor of first having his statue placed outside of Williams-Brice Stadium.

“It elevates the whole program, all of Gamecock Nation,” Board of Trustees member Chuck Allen said in August. “It can help recruiting. It’s very heartwarming to have some role in doing this for a guy I spent all four years with.”Allen also states that they have saved room for “future Heisman winners.” That statement shows just how far we still have to go to honor some other greats. Perhaps, I just have a crazier imagination than most board members.

When I think of South Carolina honoring the past, I think of a statue of Lattimore carrying 5 Bulldogs on his back, a statue of “The Hit,” or a statue of Taneyhill pretending to hit a home run or raising his hands in the air signaling a touchdown. Sterling Sharpe should be honored. Sidney Rice, Alshon Jeffrey, Robert Brooks, and John Abraham should all be honored. You could make the case for many others, as well: Melvin Ingram, Eric Norwood, Andrew Provence, and Todd Ellis.

Williams-Brice Stadium and the ground that surrounds it should let opposing fans know that they are coming into an area where good things can and have happened and there is plenty of history to represent that notion. They should help Gamecock fans remember the past. Their should be an opportunity for fans young and old to learn about the greatness that comes from the University of South Carolina.

On a day that we remember George Rogers for his accomplishments on the field and for the great ambassador he has been for the South Carolina Gamecocks, we should also be excited for all of the other accomplishments and great players we have seen over the history of the football program. I just hope that honoring Rogers is just the first step in honoring the past.

With that I would like to say:

Thank you for all of the memories, George Rogers. Thank you for being an ambassador for the great University of South Carolina. Today is about honoring your accomplishments and all of the things you have done for South Carolina. You have earned this!

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