Gamecocks' shared glory
The University of South Carolina has won 11 football games in a single season for the first time ever. In the giddy, garnet-and-black afterglow of Monday's 30-13 victory over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl, we pause to salute not just those USC players and coaches, but the long-suffering Gamecocks fans now basking in their glory.
Ponder these contrasting statistics from Orlando: Monday's outcome was USC's fifth bowl triumph. Nebraska has won 24 bowls.
And if USC, rated No. 10 by The Associated Press going into the bowl games, holds -- or improves -- that number in next week's final poll, it will be the best closing ranking in the school's history.
That's remarkable for a team that suffered the midseason losses of star tailback Marcus Lattimore to a knee injury and three-year starting quarterback Stephen Garcia to recurring personal problems that prompted Coach Steve Spurrier to throw him off the team.
USC also thumped Clemson for the third straight year. So though the No. 14 Tigers went on to win the Atlantic Coast Conference title and might win tonight's Orange Bowl over West Virginia to finish 11-3, the 11-2 Gamecocks would remain the undisputed state champs.
Another irrevocable reality: USC's extraordinarily loyal fan base has been a major asset in Coach Spurrier's remarkable success. As "The Ol' Ball Coach" said after Monday's victory: "We're not much of a football team if we don't have 80,000-83,000 at Williams-Brice [Stadium] and about 20,000-25,000 come down here. They're a part of the team ... they do their part."
So congratulations to the mighty Gamecocks -- on and off the field.