And now, Coach Henry “Dabo” McMaster’s inaugural pre-game pep talk to the General Assembly:
Ladies and gentlemen, legislators and former governors — and Mark Sanford — on account of Clemson winning the national championship, I have filled my inaugural address with sports metaphors.
So huddle up.
As South Carolina continues to prosper and grow, our team faces fierce competition — more fierce than even Texas A&M — from our neighboring states. We are competing for jobs, markets and resources.
Fortunately, our road to success is being paved even as we speak … despite my veto of that gosh durn gas tax.
In the two years since Gov. Nikki Haley left for Broadway and superstardom on the “Today Show,” we have announced more than $8 billion in capital investments and 27,000 new jobs.
I’m very proud of that, as you probably noticed during the campaign, when I repeated it every five minutes. But we still have some work to do ... some team work.
And, as Clemson showed the world — and a nearly full football stadium in California — South Carolina produces superior teamwork.
The game plan this season, team, is to focus on education. Our corporate partners say we aren’t turning out a first-string workforce. We have 60,000 high-paying jobs in this state and are looking for people to fill them.
People who aren’t from Everett, Washington.
This means we are going to have to change our offensive plays on education. And I mean offensive like the opposite of defensive, not offensive as in horrendously unacceptable.
But either way.
The skills required for the modern workforce require us to stay ahead of demand and adapt to rapid changes in technology. So we are probably gonna have to equip our schools with new technology … like better abacuses.
We also need to pay our teachers more money before they get recruited by Georgia or North Carolina State, or simply walk off … as they have threatened to do.
I am committed to improving education in rural communities, notwithstanding that lingering court order from the 1990s. The only corridor of shame I want to see is the hallway Nick Saban has to walk down on his way to the Alabama locker room.
Now, for a long time, everybody’s goal was to ultimately send their kids to college, meaning they’d get a four-year degree … within six years.
That is certainly one key to success, provided they keep that lottery scholarship and don’t graduate $100,000 in debt. But it is not the only key.
See, we’ve got a pool and a pond. And I think the pond would be good for some of you. There is a fine technical college system in this state, and we need plumbers, electricians, carpenters and nurses ... not just lawyers, accountants and ivory tower types.
To attract more students to our grand technical colleges, we have to educate them — so they will learn that going to a technical school will lead them into a job that pays much, much more than they’ll make selling Starbucks coffee with that English degree.
Now team, great football coaches — and even Steve Spurrier — will tell you the worst mistake a player can make is to fumble the ball. We cannot afford any fumbles this year.
We also can’t afford for any more of you to get clipped by that David Pascoe fellow.
Our team is going to have to play error-free ball if we are going to prevail. I thought we had an “in” with the ref, but we’ve had to go to court to keep those darn oilers off our coast. So, obviously, we’re on our own.
All right, team, play hard and run up the score … while keeping our taxes low. Which may be my re-election campaign slogan in four years.
Finally, since I haven’t mentioned it in a minute, let me remind you that Clemson won the national championship this week. We will honor that accomplishment by painting everything in the Statehouse orange, stamped with Tiger paws. Which Harvey Peeler had planned to do anyhow.
I know some of you will grumble, but I promise we will change our colors back to garnet and black if my beloved Gamecocks ever do better than the dad-blamed ol’ J.C. Penney Bowl.
Now, let’s get out on that field … before Hugh Leatherman paves it.
Reach Brian Hicks at email@example.com.