COLUMBIA — When the South Carolina football team took the field at Williams-Brice Stadium Saturday afternoon for its season opener against Coastal Carolina, the Gamecocks had a different logo on their helmets for only the second time in more than 40 years.
Instead of the “Block C” logo that had been stamped around campus and has adorned the Gamecock helmets in some form since 1975, USC switched to a script “Carolina” as its primary logo. USC only switched from the logo once before, when it went to a tail-feather logo for one game in 2015.
Quwanda Singleton learned about South Carolina's new logo on Facebook earlier in the week. Singleton, who graduated from the University of South Carolina six years ago with a degree in communications, wondered at the time what was wrong with the old logo.
“At first I was like, what’s going on, but then I looked at it a little closer and I liked it a lot,” Singleton said Saturday. “I think if you stick with the same thing year after year it can get a little stale. I understand brands and wanting brand your school, but I think change is normally a good thing.
"I know there are some people that aren’t going to like it because it’s different, but I think they just need to give it a chance. I think the more people see it on game day, the more they’ll like it.”
It’s just the second time since 1974 that the Gamecocks have switched logos. The Carolina logo will not be permanent and will be used only on garnet helmets. USC’s white and black helmets will still feature the Block C logo.
“It’s something we had talked about in the offseason,” said South Carolina coach Will Muschamp. “I was 100 percent for it. I met with our senior group and we talked about possibly putting Carolina script on one of the helmets, and they chose the garnet helmet.
"Obviously we got a very good positive feedback and the players are excited about it, and as long as they’re excited about it, I’m great with it.”
USC announced the change earlier in the week and encouraged fans to wear merchandise featuring the script “Carolina” to the game. Few took them up on the offer. Outside of Williams-Brice Stadium the reaction to the new logo was mixed.
“Honestly, I liked the Block C, I just think that’s been the tradition here for a long time and it looks good,” said John Lloyd, 55, of Columbia. “If I had my choice, they’d wear the all-maroon uniforms with the Block C like the Fire Ants used too, which they hardly ever do anymore. It’s a shame because those uniforms with the Block ‘C’ looked great on the field and that’s some of the best seasons we had.”
Ironically, the new Carolina logo is similar to the one that former coach Joe Morrison sported on his ballcaps from 1983-88. However, his team wore garnet helmets with the Block C in a white circle. When former running back George Rogers was winning the Heisman Trophy, the Block C with the Gamecock was even bigger on the helmets.
“I think anytime you pay homage to the past and a coach like Joe Morrison that’s a good thing,” said Patrick Lewis, who graduated from South Carolina in 1994. “I can still see coach Morrison walking up and down the sidelines, cupping his hand over a cigarette. That was classic.”
Lewis, however, did have one complaint. He isn't a fan of using script lettering on the helmets and block lettering on the uniforms.
“I don’t like the difference between the fonts they are using on the helmets and the jerseys,” Lewis said. “I just think they need to make it more consistent. The fonts should be the same.”
A point that Shannon Turner, 21, echoed.
“I did like the Block C, but I get the new idea behind the new logo,” Turner said. “I read somewhere that they wanted to put the same lettering on the jersey too, but they either couldn’t or didn’t. For me, it just doesn’t match if it’s not both. They need to have a uniform with the script if they are going to have it on the helmet.”
The Gamecocks have switched helmet logos once before, going to one that highlighted the tail feathers of the bird during a game against Florida in 2015 (USC lost 24-14, part of a 3-9 season that saw coach Steve Spurrier quit midseason), but otherwise remained with the standard logo.
“I loved it, actually,” said USC tight end Kiel Pollard, who caught an 8-yard TD pass from quarterback Jake Bentley on the Gamecocks' second offensive possession in their 49-15 victory over Coastal Carolina on Saturday. “I think change is good, and I think it brought some new energy to the team. “
The Gamecocks are 1-0 with the new Carolina logo.