Since President Barack Obama will be giving his State of the Union address tomorrow night, now seemed like a good time to present Cocky Country’s Gamecocks State of the Union address. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.
My fellow Gamecocks, we have seen some of the highest highs in our university’s athletic history over the past few years. Our baseball and football teams have earned national prominence, putting both those athletes and USC on the map. At the same time, there are still goals to achieve at Carolina.
Before we get to that, though, let’s take a look back at the many accomplishments of the aforementioned programs. Coach Ray Tanner and the Yardcocks are back to back national champions, making South Carolina only the sixth school to achieve that feat. By doing so, they brought the first and second titles in a major sport to USC. The 2011 team also set a record for number of wins, as they went undefeated in NCAA tournament and CWS play. They overcame adversity, found ways to “win anyway”, and brought us all a sense of pride, inspiration, and excitement.
They’re poised for another successful run at a national championship and are ranked No. 2 in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll. Adam Matthews, Michael Roth, and Matt Price were announced as the 2012 team captains today.
The football team has reached a new pinnacle of success, as the 2011 season culminated with a win in the Capital One Bowl, giving the program its first 11-win season and first bowl victory since 2006. They achieved a variety of other firsts this season, including first time to sweep the SEC East, first time defeating Clemson three consecutive years since 1968-70, first time beating the “Big Three” (Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee) for two straight seasons, and first Top-10 finish in the final BCS poll.
The year before, of course, the Gamecocks were the SEC East champions, something that had never been done before. Under the direction of Steve Spurrier, who appears just as sharp, as well as energized and excited about Gamecock football, as ever, South Carolina has finally arrived. The program is on its way up. Top talent, including in-state recruits, are choosing to attend the state’s flagship institution. This team also discovered how to “win anyway”, and the successes of the past few seasons, coupled with the quality of the players themselves, suggest that more history is just waiting to be made in 2012.
Now, to the area that most needs improvement: men’s basketball. Sadly for the guys, they have yet to see the success that their fellow major sport athletes have seen. The hoops program has been declining over the past few years, and there doesn’t seem to be much light at the end of the tunnel. The Colonial Life Arena is never full (or even close to it), more fans clamor for the removal of Darrin Horn everyday, and the team currently sits at last place in the division and the conference, having won no SEC games and owning a less than .500 record.
While the women’s basketball team is enjoying one of their best seasons in recent history, the men clearly continue to struggle, dropping winnable games and failing to maintain leads or capitalize on any chances. Unless things begin to go their way soon, they will likely not have a winning season for the third year in a row.
What can be done to remedy this situation? As I mentioned earlier, many believe a coaching change is simply necessary. Coach Horn’s system does not seem to be working, and there has also been the issue with numerous players leaving for one reason or another (mainly wanting more playing time). Is canning Horn the answer? Maybe that won’t solve all the problems, but it’s got to be part of the solution. Though this is only his fourth season at Carolina, the program is obviously not going in the right direction.
There are still goals to be set for all teams at Carolina, still new levels to be achieved, and still new facility-related improvements to be made. We are certainly moving forward as a university athletics program overall, and we must continue that trend, while working towards getting all sports on the proper path.
In closing, it is a particularly great time to be a Gamecock. While we cannot ignore the areas which still need improvement, we must look toward the future and be filled with enthusiasm and positivity. There is no doubt that the University of South Carolina is a quality institution of higher learning, and there should also be no doubt that we can attract the country’s premier student-athletes to the garnet and black. With the continued support of the Gamecock Nation, there is no reason that USC cannot become a nationally-recognized and respected center of academics and athletics.
Here’s a health, Carolina, forever to thee.