Monday, October 01, 2007

Why We Love (NCAA edition): South Carolina Gamecocks

'Ello, old friends. It's Ted back again. You may remember me from when I used to write over at "A Price Above Bip Roberts," a site that has gradually devolved into a series of Vietnamese characters which, loosely translated, predicted both the Brittney-losing-custody-of-her-children and Rockies-amazing-turnaround weeks before either actually happened.

It pays to brush up on other cultures, you see?

In reality, the reason that "Bip" and I parted ways was simple: I signed up for one of those Site Meters because the guys over at Diamond Hoggers kept telling me to, and I got sick of looking at that many zeros every day seeing as how they didn't come after a comma and a two digit number on a pay stub. In truth, though, it was because I got another gig whereby I was going to do more writing, and conflicts of interest may have resulted.

Presently, though, I ain't writing much. I'm mostly converting files from Notepad to Word, and occasionally re-stacking boxes. So, without further ado, "Why We Love" hath returned, although since the baseball season is now in its ever-glorious "post" period, we're gonna turn our attention to NCAA football.

The basic concept of "Why We Love," lest ye forgot, is thus: we profile a lesser-known entity and tell you why you should love him (or it, or they, or whatever pronoun you're feeling pithy about at the moment). When we wrote about baseball, we never talked Manny and Ortiz, but we did talk Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Holliday, two huge reasons for the wild card playoff you're probably watching right now.

We're smart, and we'd like one friggin' person to notice. Seeing as how we almost published this post just now with two mis-spellings in that last sentence alone, I think we're firing on all cylinders right now.

Why you should love the South Carolina Gamecocks:

- Love them because they have one of the most successful and animated coaches in all the land, Mr. Steve "The Ol' Ball Coach" Spurrier. Visors were once cool - like mesh trucker hats, Dolph Lundgren, and proton packs for Christmas - and if the SEC goes according to my master plan below, they will be again. And forever.

- Love 'em because even though they have one loss on the season already, thus potentially decrediting their national championship aspirations, it wasn't as bad as it looked. Consider: they lost to LSU, who just took over as No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time since in the regular season since 1959 and could probably whup USC 35-10 right now, assuming the teams met last Saturday (note: USC had 16 penalties against Washington, a team that is up and coming but still 0-3 in the Pac 10). LSU won by 12 over the 'Cocks, and 7 of those came off a trick play. Those suckers almost always work, although there is something to be said that Mr. Spurrier, himself occasionally a master of deception, should have known that might be coming. Still, a trick play is a trick play; you slide one guy five feet over and it's a five point game. One of the other LSU touchdowns was by our man Trindon Holliday, an absolute freak of nature. At this point in their trajectories of recruiting, seeing as how LSU won a national title four years ago, guys like Holliday (and Glenn Dorsey, and Ali Highsmith, etc) go to the Tigers over the 'Cocks. And Matt Flynn - who by no means had his sharpest game in that home contest - threw a ball almost directly to 'Cocks safety Emmanuel Cook, but he dropped it. In all honesty, then, the other USC was a different defensive alignment, a little bit harder sell on the recruiting trail, and a pair of surer hands away from an undefeated record at this point.

(Granted, in college football those things matter tremendously, but I'm just saying: don't hate the boys for their loss. Realize you can still love. It's not like Florida, which fell to Auburn - who had earlier fallen to Missippi State. It's not Oklahoma, which fell to a team QB'ed by the coach's son. It's not West Virginia or Clemson, which crapped the bed in an utterly unique way for the umpteenth consecutive season. It's losing to the best team in the land)

- Love 'em because their QB is named "Smelley."

- Love 'em because they lost their best defensive player - Jasper Brinkley - and are marching on undaunted.

- Speaking of marching on undaunted, here's another thing to love about the 'Cocks: on the verge of a Saturday that was supposed to be unbelievable (Oklahoma vs. Texas! LSU vs. Florida!), but is now only halfway marketable (Missouri vs. Nebraska? Virginia Tech vs. Clemson?), they've made the best game of the week on Thursday night when they tussle with Kentucky, the surprise undefeated of the SEC. Thursday night football is a pretty sweet concept, even with the baseball playoffs starting: your entire attention can be focused wholly on one game. We're not talking about Cincy vs. Oregon State here, or even the moderately passable Texas A&M vs. Miami match-up. This will be big time. Ah, Thursdays are again "Must See TV" - thanks to the 'Cocks.

- Speaking of that, can't you just love 'em because they're called the 'Cocks, and provide a reason for 50,000 some odd college girls to walk around with expressions of that nature on their shirts?

- Once South Carolina beats Kentucky - and they will, no doubt empowered by your love after reading this - their path to SEC dominance isn't too tough. They have North Carolina, Vandy, and Tennessee immediately after; all games are definitely winnable. Arkansas follows on the road; while that's a tough game, Houston Nutt might be a lame duck by that point and the tailbacks could be playing for pride, creating a "defensive approach to the late 1990s Bulls" philosophy for Spurrier: let McFadden and Jones run, and contain everything else. While Casey Dick would certainly fit in well on the 'Cocks, I doubt Spurrier would want him. He ain't too good. SC closes with Florida - let's remember, Florida's national championship team needed a block kick to survive these guys last year - and Clemson, who will have completely imploded ala your parents at your eldest sister's Sweet 16 by that point. So yea, love 'em because they're going to find a way to get that rematch with LSU.

- Love 'em because they provide the most relevant crossover between sports (what the neanderthals discuss) and politics (what the social elite discuss). Consider the states that matter early in primaries: New Hampshire (do they play football there?), Iowa (the fact that more people aren't calling for Ferentz's head is incredible to me), and South Carolina (ah, sweet bliss). Right now it's the only state that could probably host Gameday and some type of John King special in the same weekend, and that's friggin' dope.

- Love 'em because any time you go to a bar, regardless of what city or state or even country you live in, there will be - rest assured - a guy with an old, beat-up "COCKS" sweatshirt on (ignoring the fact that it's a balmy 77 outside due to global warming), sitting there with a pitcher by himself, casually trying to engage waitresses and other female passer-by in conversation to absolutely no avail, screaming when the scrambled TV in the corner showing his Lincoln Financial Sports broadcast reveals an image that appears to be a touchdown but might, just as easily, be scrambled pornography, and following you back from the bathroom line after you make a casual "Spurrier" comment and nod. I've met this man. I've met several incarnations of him, actually. I'm still alive to discuss it, but just barely.

- Love 'em because their leading receiver, Kenny McKinley (one syllable off from a guy who once drank absinth in my living room then collapsed over and not onto my futon, as an aside), is 6-0, 177 pounds (read: a twig) and possesses a physically disgusting 35 inch vertical leap.

No comments: