The Daily Gamecock

Column: Gamecock fans must adjust expectations

Loss at Kentucky could signal end of era

As a junior at South Carolina, I've learned a few things since I first came to campus more than two years ago.

By my own design, a lot has been football-related.

And much like the curricula of college courses are designed to prepare you to enter the workforce, young Gamecocks are prepared early and often for the football team to be bad again.

Insufferably bad.

0-21 bad, tragically partying like it's 1999.

As an out-of-state transplant, I share with a lot of South Carolina students the perspective of a viewer who has only seen the football team compete at the highest level.

Sharing that fact with any lifelong Gamecock fan usually serves as a suggestion that maybe you should tell me how terrible South Carolina used to be.

That's typically followed by how lucky I am to be a part of what's happened in recent years.

For the most part, I shake it off and watch replays of "The Hit" until the carnage becomes too much.

But after the Gamecocks' most recent loss to Kentucky, I have a basic understanding of what I've been subconsciously trained for throughout my college career. 

I am in no way claiming to be one of the battle-hardened cynics that knows just how disappointing South Carolina can be.

I'll reserve that distinction for anyone with memories of Nov. 17, 1984.

For those of you with a single tear rolling down your cheek right now, I don't have to remind you that this is the day the 9-0, No. 2 in the nation Gamecocks lost to Navy and set a glorious blaze to their national title hopes. 

That's just one of the more painful examples of how South Carolina has tortured its fans in the past. It bares little comparison to this year's loss to Kentucky. 

But, for me and other recently adopted Gamecocks, this is the first time many of us have lost hope.

I'm telling you, in mid-October, in no uncertain terms, that South Carolina will not play for the SEC championship. Over the last three-plus years, that hope has remained alive until the bitter end of the season, even if it may not have matriculated into an Eastern division title.

It's mid-October, and the Gamecocks have three losses. Over the last three years in which South Carolina has finished 11-2, it's taken the team longer than that to lose twice. 

It's time to adjust our expectations when it comes to the Gamecocks, at least for this year.

For all we know, one of the incoming freshmen in South Carolina's 16th-ranked recruiting class could do a four-year Connor Shaw impression and deliver the Gamecocks back to the promised land. 

Maybe Connor Mitch or Perry Orth messes around and wins the Heisman next season. College football is weird, and stuff like that happens all the time.

Until then, we'll have to settle for incremental goals.

A good start would be a win over Furman this week, because South Carolina is in no position to overlook anyone. 

The Gamecocks go to No. 6 Auburn in two weeks, and we learned Saturday that the Tigers are at least beatable.  

And I don't think I need to remind anyone reading this that South Carolina is in the middle of a five-game winning streak against Clemson.

If and when that comes to an end will most-likely serve as the red light that puts a stop to the Gamecocks' current glory years.

That also might be a good time to hide in an old missile silo until the riots end.

The 18-game home winning streak is over. The 69-consecutive weeks in the top-25 are done. But for many South Carolina fans, that's all secondary to a win over the "team from upstate" as head coach Steve Spurrier likes to call them. 

And we've still got that going for us.


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