Now that we're under the forty day mark before the start of the 2012 football season - and just ten days from the start of August football camp - we're probably on safe ground to assume that you've found yourself humming "2001" on your morning commute, and watching Sandstorm videos on your work computer.
You can't wait to see all the changes at Williams-Brice Stadium - the new video board, the Farmers Market tailgate area, and all the other bells and whistles. But more than that, you're ready to immerse yourself in all the pageantry and traditions that you fell in love with in the first place. Believe me, we're right with you, brother.
But as cool as it's going to be to watch us play in 2012 - even if you can only catch the game on CBS or ESPN - the Gamecock gameday experience could still be made better if we brought back some football traditions that have fallen by the wayside for one reason or another - and none for any good reason in my humble opinion. Here are five (in reverse order!) that we should urge new Athletics Director Ray Tanner and the rest of the Carolina nation to restore to their former glory and prominence. Keep reading after The Jump to see which old traditions should be new again, and take our Fan Poll on your favorite!
5. "Go! Fight! Win! Kick Ass!"
Wait just a minute, you're thinking. A lot of Gamecocks still yell out this old cheer, as the opening kick-off sails, right after Sandstorm. Some old-timers even holler it for every kick-off; plus you still see the cheer living on in avatar quotes, Twitter hashtags, etc. So why is it on the list? Because from my point of view, it's been falling by the wayside for years. Fewer and fewer seem to say it - almost like they're afraid their grandmama might wash their mouth out with soap or something. I don't know its origins, but if it was good enough for former generation(s) of Gamecocks, it's good enough for me. It's time for the University to re-embrace this tradition and encourage the fans to scream it for every kick-off with full-throated and full-throttle vengeance. Flash up the words on the new jumbotron. Sing it out. Let's let our opponents hear what it sounds like coming from 85,000 fans and not 15,000. Wherever "Go! Fight! Win! Kick Ass!" came from - and for whatever reason - it's uniquely ours, just like Sic 'em and War Eagle are to Georgia and Auburn; let's all be loud and proud about it. [Note - if anyone has more information on how or why this kick-off chant developed, please share it in the comments!].
4. Calling it the "Fire Ant" Defense
This was the name given to the Gamecock defense from at least 1980-1987 - i.e., from the end of the Jim Carlen era, through the one-year Richard Bell fiasco that followed, and then through the Joe Morrison years up until we were derailed by the Tommy Chaikin scandal. Now, from time to time, you'll see some Carolina fans argue that the "fire ant" defense was only for the 1987 squad .. or only for the '84 squad .... or just for Joe Lee Dunn's defenses during the Morrison tenure ... or isn't to be confused with "Black Death" or "Black Magic." We could probably argue this stuff for years, but suffice it to say that despite "Fire Ants" being a great unit name - like Nebraska's "Black Shirts" or the Steelers' "Steel Curtain" - it fell from active use under Sparky Woods. You might hear "Fire Ants" here and there, but it's a shame it was allowed to die. Now that it's the 25th anniversary of the last Carolina defense ('87) that actively used the name, it's time to bring it back. The defensive starters should be known from henceforth as the Fire Ants (regardless of whether we wear all-garnet uniforms, though it would be cool to do it at least one home game to honor them). In light of how the USC defense has been carrying us a lot of the way these last few years with their aggressive ball-swarming style, it makes a lot of sense and will build some great espirit de corps. Go Fire Ants!
3. "Carolina Let Your Voices Ring"
Most of you know "Carolina Let Your Voices Ring" as "The Old Fight Song" - which reportedly was composed in 1933 by a USC undergraduate as part of a fraternity-sponsored fight-song contest. The setting is traditional, with lots of low brass, and the lyrics are inspiring:
Carolina, Let your voices ring, to you we sing our praises high
Ring out! Sing out! On to victory! Forever fight we'll do or die
Carolina, Fight with all your might, let all unite in proud acclaim
Then battle on together, one and all forever
Fight, we've got to win the game, Rah! Rah! Rah!
Garnet & Black we raise, Gamecocks forever praise
So fight for Carolina, Cheer for Carolina, Hail to our U.S.C.
We cheer forever U.S.C.!
Like "Go! Fight! Win! Kick Ass!", the Old Fight Song hasn't entirely died - it's still part of the USC Band's pre-game show - traditionally followed by Go, Carolina! and then the new fight song. Now, I'm not saying that we should replace"The Fighting Gamecocks Lead the Way" adopted by A.D./Head Coach Paul Dietzel in 1968-1969 (though to be perfectly honest I think its a cornball tune and the lyrics barely fit the music, and I can't for the life of me divine why Dietzel adopted a new fight song other than pure Ohio-Yankee perniciousness and meddling). In any event, the "new" fight song has been in use longer than it hasn't, so it would be wrong to dump it. But it would be very cool if we could find a way to use "Carolina Let Your Voices Ring" more than just in the pre-game. We could play it at after PAT's (combined with Go Carolina!) instead of repeating The Fighting Gamecocks Lead the Way for both the TD and the exrtra point. That would be a great way to get us all humming a great, old, traditional Carolina song once again!
2. "Louie, Louie"
It was a popular bumper sticker back in the 1980s - If Ain't Swayin', We Ain't Playin'! - from a quote which has always been attributed (perhaps apocryphally) to Joe Morrison. In the classic book of Gamecock lore, Tales from the Roost, former USC SID Tom Price explained that the 'swayin' meant the scary vibrations in the then-relatively new East upper deck, which would literally bounce as fans cheered and stomped along with the great Kingsmen hit Louie, Louie. There probably wasn't much danger, but the University banned Louie, Louie out of safety concerns and then brought in consulting engineers to oversee structural improvements for the East Upper. In spite of the repairs, the song never came back - except perhaps for a few bars here and there if the opposing team gets flagged. It's a shame it's not part of the band's full repertoire, because by all accounts we had been playing Louie, Louie since the 1960s and it had become a signature USC number and a crowd favorite the same way that Sandstorm is today. Well, if Williams-Brice doesn't noticeably shake during Sandstorm, I think we're probably safe to bring back Louie, Louie on a trial basis. It would be nice to blend an old tradition in with a new one. [PS - Don't even get me started on the Bugaloo].
Ever wondered why our annual tilt with Clemson - which just so happens to be the longest uninterrupted rivalry game in the South - doesn't have a cool nickname like the Iron Bowl, or the Egg Bowl, or even something like Clean Old-Fashioned Hate? Why we're stuck with the pedestrian "Palmetto State Rivalry"? That's because in 1959, when Clemson Coach Frank Howard finally succeeded in moving the yearly match-up from the Thursday of the State Fair to a pure home-and-home series, both Clemson and Carolina let the the name "Big Thursday" slide - despite the fact it was a well-known game that even northern newspapers would cover. I don't blame the Tigers for wanting a home-and-home, but even Clemson fans from that period say that something special was lost. Well, we know we're never going to convince the Tigs to come to W-B every year, and it may be asking too much even to explore if Clemson-Carolina could be held on Thursdays (since that would likely mean a short preparation week). But at least we can take back the nickname "Big," e.g., by calling it "Big Saturday" or the "Game Formerly Known as Big Thursday. " Anything would be better than the "The Battle of the Palmetto State" or the "Palmetto Bowl" in my opinion - and it would harken back to the golden age of the rivalry. I can hear Reece Davis saying it now ... "We're down in Columbia, South Carolina for the game they call Big Saturday!"
Convinced? Or think all or some are lame? Sound off in the comments (if you dare) or take the Fan Poll!