The state of South Carolina ranks very low nationally in assorted measures of public education and health.
But the University of South Carolina football team ranks very high nationally in this week’s Associated Press poll.
And judging from the accelerating proliferation of Gamecock banners, bumper stickers and other garnet-and-black regalia, USC fans rank at or near the top nationally in being fired up about their school’s gridiron success.
After many decades of enduring football mediocrity and worse, you can’t blame them for loudly crowing now that they’ve got America’s third-ranked team.
Coach Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks, 6-0 this season, have won 17 of their last 19 games. Their latest triumph was Saturday night’s 35-7 domination of then-No. 5 Georgia in Columbia.
That dropped USC’s average points allowed this season to a mere 10.5 — remarkably low given this season’s stunning rise of high-scoring offenses across the land. For instance, though Clemson is ranked 16th in the AP poll and has gone 5-1 so far, the Tigers are yielding 27.3 points per game.
Next up for No. 3 USC are huge games at No. 9 LSU and now-No. 4 Florida. The only other currently ranked team left on USC’s regular-season schedule is Clemson. And as all serious Gamecock — and Tiger — loyalists know, USC has won three in a row over Clemson by convincing margins.
Meanwhile, as all college football fans know, if USC wins the rest of its games, it also will win its first national football championship.
But before getting too giddy about what happened Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium, or what could happen this Saturday night at LSU’s version of “Death Valley” and at other venues later this season, remember that USC starts with “University.”
The school’s board of trustees offered a reminder of that higher-education purpose Friday by asking USC’s educational foundation to boost President Harris Pastides’ salary from $599,000 to $724,000.
Gee, the USC president’s job must be important:
That proposed raise would make his annual pay nearly 22 percent of Coach Spurrier’s $3.3 million.