Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 9: Running back Marcus Lattimore #21 of the South Carolina Gamecocks rushes upfield against the Alabama Crimson Tide October 9, 2010 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

The 2010 football season for the South Carolina Gamecocks was certainly one that included success.  The Gamecocks finished the regular season at 9-3, defeated the #1 team in the country, beat Clemson consecutively for the first time in forty years, and won the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division Championship, sending the team to Atlanta for the first time in school history.  Both Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery had tremendous years that helped gather additional national attention to the University of South Carolina.  

However, Carolina was embarassed in the SEC Championship game, losing 56-17 to Auburn.  Cam Newton is an exceptional player regardless of whether you think he deserves to retain his amateur status, but the Gamecocks didn't match Auburn's desire to win a title and get to the BCS National Championship game.  The Chick-fil-A Bowl selection committee decided to give South Carolina another chance in the Georgia Dome by inviting them to participate in a great matchup against Florida State.  Yet again, the Gamecocks failed to secure a victory.  Lattimore being knocked out of the game early was sure to have an impact, but I've never seen a team rise and fall so much on the ability of a freshman running back to play.  Marcus is fantastic and will only get better, but his absence in games this year was a death blow to this team.  We all should have turned the television off when he went out.  Stephen Garcia continues to be extremely inconsistent after four years in the program.  Without Latti, he becomes a poor man's Brett Favre.  Someone please tell him he can't throw the long ball.  If he wants to hit our guys on a fly route, he's got to get rid of it quicker because he just doesn't have the arm strength to throw it deep.     

Was this a successful year for the Gamecocks?  Overall, yes, but when you end the year getting pounded in your conference championship and follow that up with another bowl loss to what I contend was an inferior opponent, it stings.  Steve Spurrier is 1-4 in bowl games at Carolina, and three of the losses shouldn't have happened (Missouri, UConn, and FSU - Iowa was better than we were).  You can't put all the blame on him for those defeats - he surely wouldn't endorse Garcia's errant (one idiotic) passes - but, in the end, it's on the coach to have his team ready to play, and Spurrier's bowl success rate is nothing to highlight.   

9-5 is a good year.  It's not a great year.  It's not South Carolina's best year ever as I've seen some say it arguably is.  Really?  9-5?  How does that stack up to 10-2 in 1984?  We won ten games of an eleven game schedule and almost played for the national championship that year.  That's not something we challenged for this season.  I also don't think this year equals the 9-3 effort during the Holtz era.  You just can't end a season the way we did and feel real good about it.  If you want to argue that 9-5 is the best season in Carolina's history, then that's sad for us.  I know we won the SEC East, but it was the weakest the division has been since the Gamecocks entered the conference.  We've got a long, long way to go before we can be mentioned as a consistently top program.  Don't insult us more by claiming a five loss season is the best ever. 

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