COLUMBIA -- Less than 24 hours after Navy upset South Carolina, Gamecocks head football coach Joe Morrison strode purposefully into the team's meeting room.
An intimidating figure under normal circumstances, Morrison was downright menacing on this November day in 1984 as he made his way to the front of the room.
He was a few minutes late, which was unusual for Morrison, and with no preamble he went to the blackboard and wrote down five items.
1) National championship
2) No. 1 ranking
3) Orange Bowl bid
4) $2 million
Morrison turned to face his team.
"Guys, you just blew a chance at a national championship, you're not going to be No. 1, we're not going to the Orange Bowl and you just lost your university 2 million dollars," Morrison said pointing to each of the first four items on the list.
Then he put the chalk on No. 5 and said with emphasis, "That's where you are right now."
He paused for just a second and added, "OK, let's go beat Clemson."
Without another word, Morrison dropped the chalk and walked out of the room.
"You could have heard a pin drop," said former quarterback Mike Hold, who is now the executive director of Newberry College's athletic booster club. "I've never heard a room so quiet in my life. You just felt like crawling into a hole for a week after that."
It's been 27 years since Navy shocked then second-ranked and undefeated South Carolina, 38-21, on that gray, blustery afternoon in Annapolis, Md., but the memory of that game still lingers with participants on both sides of the ball.
With the Gamecocks taking on Navy this Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium, the questions about that game are more frequent for former players like Bill Barnhill, a former offensive lineman.
"Every couple of weeks someone will bring up the Navy game," Barnhill said. "For all the wins and all the great things we did that season, a lot of people only remember the loss to Navy."
The Gamecocks were riding a nine-game winning streak, had come from behind to beat the likes of Notre Dame and North Carolina State on the road, and were riding an emotional high unlike any other they had experienced.
The Midshipmen, meanwhile, had just three wins going into their final home game of the 1984 season and would be playing without their top player -- future NFL running back Napoleon McCallum.
"I remember Thursday night thinking we were not ready," said Edwards, now the athletic director at Newberry. "I had a sense that we were looking ahead to the Clemson game and the Orange Bowl."
Morrison, a conservative coach by nature, had uncharacteristically told the team after Thursday night's practice that if the Gamecocks beat Navy, they would earn the school's first Orange Bowl bid.
"Yeah, we were probably a little distracted by that news," said Barnhill, a real estate agent in Mount Pleasant.
The Midshipmen had already proven they could play with the elite teams in the country. They'd been beaten by a long field goal in the final seconds at Notre Dame (18-17) and had tied Pittsburgh (28-28) earlier in the season.
"We had the best week of practice we'd had all season that week," said former Navy defensive tackle Eric Rutherford, a commercial real estate investor. "We were coming off a terrible loss to Syracuse where we got shut out. We were an angry team."
A blocked field goal and a Rutherford sack on third down on USC's first two possessions set the tone for the rest of the game for the Gamecocks.
"We had plenty of chances to take control of that game," Hold said.
Navy led 14-7 at half, and the Midshipmen were brimming with confidence.
"At halftime, I really felt like we were going to win," Rutherford said.
The Midshipmen scored on their first four possessions of the second half and the upset was on.
"You kept looking up at the scoreboard and watching the time tick away," Edwards said. "I thought we had a chance until early in the fourth quarter, and I think they were up 38-7. That's when I knew it was over."
As the South Carolina players were boarding the plane for the flight back to Columbia, Barnhill found out that Oklahoma had upset then- No. 1 Nebraska, 17-7. Had the Gamecocks beaten Navy, they would have been the No. 1- ranked team the following week against arch-rival Clemson.
"It was like the knife was already in your back and then someone just twisted it," Edwards said.
The Gamecocks would avenge the loss the following year, beating the Midshipmen, 34-31, at Williams-Brice Stadium.
"People forget we beat them the next year," Hold said.
USC would beat Navy again in 1988 (19-8) in Morrison's final home game, just months before his death in February 1989.
Still, the memories of that afternoon never seem to fade away for Barnhill.
"It was the toughest loss of my life," Barnhill said. "This week only makes it worse. You just think about 'what might have been.' "