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North Carolina freshman quarterback Sam Howell throws a pass in a 24-20 win over South Carolina on Saturday in Charlotte. The Tar Heels would make a great SEC expansion target and so would Wyoming, Memphis and Georgia State after four SEC upset losses to start the 2019 season. Nell Redmond/AP

Life is all about turning adversity into opportunity, like finding a good new gyro place when the go-to spot is boarded up for a hurricane.

Similarly, the worst Opening Day in SEC history is a grand chance to hijack momentum that comes with joyous celebrations from Laramie to Chapel Hill.

Alert the marketing department.

Seize valuable college football territory.

Or, as every shrewd stock picker knows, the time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets.

Some see North Carolina’s stunning 24-20 upset of South Carolina as a complete embarrassment in which unretired Tar Heels head coach Mack Brown went from minor ESPN duties such as analyst work at the 2016 Charleston Southern-North Dakota State game to dancing in a Bank of America Stadium locker room.

At least the Gamecocks didn’t lose to Memphis, a 15-10 winner over Ole Miss.

Which wasn’t as bad as losing at Wyoming, which beat former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant and Missouri, 37-31.

And none of that compared to Tennessee’s 38-30 home loss to a Georgia State program that won two games last season.

But if it really “just means more,” the SEC needs more schools.

Wyoming and Memphis in the SEC West.

Georgia State and North Carolina in the SEC East.

If you can’t beat ‘em, annex ‘em.

Four good expansion cases:


North Carolina football fans can hold their own with most SEC fans. They were in full force Saturday as the Tar Heels beat South Carolina in Charlotte. Travis Bell/Sideline Carolina

North Carolina

Having to thrust freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski into the South Carolina lineup might give head coach Will Muschamp and staff cover for bad things that happen this season.

But remember the poor play-calling, timid strategy, shoddy tackling technique and questionable defensive depth chart choices in Charlotte from what Muschamp insisted was his best Gamecocks team yet.

Better, however, to spin the big picture.

Why would UNC join the SEC? A program-changing football move would add enough College Football Playoff cash (trickling down from Alabama appearances) to provide an edge in a basketball rivalry with Duke sure to continue.

And now the Tar Heels add Kentucky as a regular hardwood opponent.


What’s not to like?

A big Southern city with lots of SEC alumni.

Penny Hardaway is making basketball relevant again.

Also, by the time Memphis is a full-fledged SEC member, the Gamecocks should figure out how to reconcile Muschamp’s Tuesday assertion that “we called 17 shots down the field” against North Carolina with only two pass plays that went for more than 16 yards (22 to Kyle Markway, 26 to Shi Smith).

The resident ducks at the Peabody Hotel.

Ribs at Rendevous.


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A trip to Memphis will be fun for Gamecock fans even if the coaches are too afraid to go for it on fourth-and-1 when the defense is struggling.

Georgia State

A bigger Southern city with more SEC alumni.

Sure, Panthers head coach Shawn Elliott once lost to The Citadel as South Carolina’s interim head coach. But his team plays at Georgia State Stadium, a scaled-down version of a facility that has hosted the Olympics and World Series.

Best part: the Gamecocks get a showcase trip to Atlanta’s rich recruiting grounds without having to make the SEC Championship Game.


Clemson plays Wyoming in 2021. But Dabo Swinney certainly knows better than to play that game on the road or to agree to a home-and-home series.

Because, as Missouri found out, you just don’t waltz into Laramie.

Muschamp, by the way, has recruited in Wyoming. As head coach at Florida he signed Casper defensive tackle Taven Bryan, aka The Wyoming Wildman, a Jacksonville Jaguars 2018 first-round draft pick.

This week, Muschamp is in full fix-it mode.

“Let’s try to rally to win games,” was the way he described the South Carolina approach during his Tuesday news conference.

This could be the ultimate SEC coup, spreading “It Just Means More” fever to the edge of the Continental Divide.

It would also encourage Muschamp to scour Cheyenne, Rock Springs, Powder River and Buffalo for the kind of talent boost the Gamecocks needed Saturday.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff