GENE SAPAKOFF: No rest on USC's yacht

South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman

Imagine another busy day at the office for Eric Hyman.

Hmmm … How to display another College World Series trophy?

What to do with this cumbersome stack of preseason college football magazines, most of which have the defending SEC East champions repeating their way to the league title game in Atlanta?

Where to spend that surplus that didn't exist in 2006?

But if you think running the University of South Carolina athletic department must seem like lounging around a new yacht, surprise, Hyman hasn't anchored in a safe harbor of shallow kudos.

Yes, South Carolina just had its greatest academic-calendar sports year.

So the way Hyman sees it, it's time to roll up sleeves.

"You never get drunk on the highs because the lows will kill you," the athletic director said. "You just have to try to keep even keel. If you get caught up in it, people are going to pass you by. Maybe this is my insecurity, but I think you just have to make every day better."

Of course, it's perfectly fine to adjust the rearview mirror every now and again.

What a baseball ride, the magical June.

"I don't know that there's any collection of words that can capture the excitement of the moment," Hyman said. "The most rewarding part of all this is to see that excitement on the faces of our supporters, our Gamecock Club members and our fans, because we have terrific fans. To see them so energized and so uplifted and so happy, it's just tremendously rewarding."

Football evidence

The fan joy rubs off.

"People in the athletic department," Hyman said, "thrive on their enthusiasm."

Decades from now, little kids playing ball all over the Palmetto State will hear coaches and parents remind them how the never-say-quit Gamecocks escaped bases-loaded, no-outs jams against both Virginia and Florida on the way to a second straight national championship.

"We captured the imagination of a lot of people around the country," Hyman said.

But baseball season is over.

For the first time ever, there is tangible evidence to back reasons for picking South Carolina to rule the SEC East football world. Steve Spurrier will arrive next week at SEC Media Days in Birmingham, Ala., with the league's two best players, Alshon Jeffery and Marcus Lattimore.

"I can't sit here and tell you we're right in the middle of everybody we compete with as a team from top to bottom," Hyman said. "But we're getting closer. That's a reflection on Coach Spurrier and his coaching staff and what they have accomplished in six years. But I keep telling people, 'If you're going to do it the right way, it takes time.' "

Fan dividends

For now, the cash is rolling in. As CEO of Gamecock sports entertainment biz, Hyman's main job is the bottom line. In figures for 2009-10 released in April, the South Carolina sports programs were $1.6 million in the black -- one of only a few dozen athletic departments to make money.

The football program was 11th in the country in profits for 2009, at $35.5 million (Clemson was 27th at $14.7 million).

But Hyman finds U.S. Department of Education bean-counting methodology "flawed" and says "apples are not compared to apples" among schools.

Don't even ask head baseball coach Ray Tanner how official figures have the 2010 South Carolina baseball program losing money -- $300,000 -- the year the team played before huge crowds at Carolina Stadium on the way to the school's very first national title in a men's sport.

Still, profits are nice.

"The exciting thing is, people who have made an investment in Gamecock Nation are now getting their dividends back," Hyman said. "And that's winning two national championships. That's winning the SEC East."

Win or lose this football season or next baseball season, the repeat feat in Omaha last month will endure forever.

"What you love about college athletics is the positive correlation between effort and results," Hyman said.

"Having coached for a long time, I know that all you can ask of players is for them to play to their potential. That's what the baseball team did this year."