Happy New Year’s Eve, dear readers! I hope you’ve all been having a holly jolly holiday season and are getting excited about the Outback Bowl (p.s. IT’S TOMORROW!!!). In honor of today being the last day of 2012, let’s take a look back at five of the biggest stories from Gamecock Nation this year:
1. Football team keeps making history: The Gamecocks reached a new milestone when they won the 2012 Capital One Bowl to lock up an 11-win season for the first time in school history. This year, behind QBs Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson, they have the chance to secure a second straight 11-win season by beating Michigan in the Outback Bowl. Though they lost Marcus Lattimore in the middle of the season again – and he’s since decided to go pro – the Cocks have strong leaders on both sides of the ball, a potential future Heisman hopeful in Jadeveon Clowney, and a coaching staff who is more than capable of taking us to the top.
2. Yardcocks reach CWS finals for third year in a row: They were expected to be a good team, but very few people had the USC baseball team not only making it back to Omaha, but all the way back to the championship series. Though they fell to Arizona in the title games, they made us all proud to cheer for the garnet and black. Though studs like Michael Roth, Matt Price, Christian Walker, and Adam Matthews have all moved on to the pros, there looks to be a bright season ahead for some of the younger guys who made their mark in 2012, including L.B. Dantzler, Grayson Greiner, and Jordan Montgomery.
3. Ray Tanner takes over as Athletic Director: When Eric Hyman departed Carolina to become the AD at new SEC member Texas A&M, many wondered if Tanner, who had long been interested in the AD position, would be the man chosen for the job. Though a few other candidates were considered, Tanner came out on top and was named the university’s new Athletic Director just a few weeks after he and his team returned from Omaha. That meant that Chad Holbrook naturally became the new head baseball coach. Both men are doing a fine job in their new roles so far, and there’s no reason to believe that will change any time soon.
4. Frank Martin hired as new men’s basketball coach: When the Darrin Horn era ended with a whimper, South Carolina went big time and brought in Frank Martin to take the reins. Martin, known for his fiery personality and a strong coaching record, immediately embraced Gamecock Nation by showing up to all sorts of sporting events and interacting with fans on Twitter. Though Martin’s style of coaching and general demeanor is much different from Horn’s, it was a necessary change. The guys are 9-3 so far on the season (they were 7-6 at this point last year) and though they may not be the most talented team out there, they’re clearly putting in the work that’s needed to improve.
5. Women’s hoops reaches the Sweet Sixteen: For the first time since 2003, the ladies made it to the NCAA Tournament in 2012. They were a No. 5 seed and beat 12-seeded Eastern Michigan before falling to No. 1 Stanford. Though it was a tough loss, there was nothing to be ashamed of, as the season was one of the best in recent years for the team. So far this season, the women are 12-1, with their only loss coming against Stanford, in a game that they were in until the very end. They’re also ranked as high as No. 16 in the country.