Pastides encourages fans to be respectful of Navy before kickoff, at end of game
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said he was talking with his staff on Wednesday night when he realized he wanted to have a pep rally before the Gamecocks' home opener against Navy on Saturday.
So it happened. Spurrier and his players joined USC President Harris Pastides, the Carolina Band, cheerleaders, Cocky and about 500 fans on the Horseshoe late Friday afternoon for a brief pep rally. The gathering was meant to show his team "how important football is to the University of South Carolina," Spurrier told the crowd.
"I know a lot of you came here for academics," Spurrier said. "How many of you came here for football?"
Judging by the reaction from those in attendance, apparently quite a few. The crowd was whipped into frenzy even further moments later when star tailback Marcus Lattimore took the microphone.
"When I'm out there running, I'm running for my coaches and my teammates," he said. "But everybody knows I'm running for all y'all."
Pastides also spoke to the crowd, saying that USC fans are as "patriotic and love the Navy as much as any other American," and should respect. But, he added, once the game begins, he wants the fans to treat it like any other game.
"Until the kickoff, we're going to tell those Midshipmen how much we love them," Pastides said. "But once that ball gets kicked off, we're going to sink that ship."
Added Spurrier: "Make it loud when they have the ball. Let's let these Navy people know they came to one of the toughest places to win a ballgame they've ever been."
Lattimore said he wants the first playing of "Sandstorm" to be "as loud as it's ever been."
The No. 10 Gamecocks will play Navy at 6 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Spurrier said he hopes the team can begin to realize its potential against the Midshipmen.
"We're extremely proud of our baseball program, the best in the nation," Spurrier said. "Someday I hope I can go around the country and talk about the football program that way."