I know I haven't been around a lot this football season, and for that I apologize. But it seems that the South Carolina football season doesn't really begin until late October or early November. And here we are again.
Forgive me if I'm not very optimistic about how the next two games will go. After all, the Gamecocks are about to face maybe the best team in the country and The Team from the Upstate -- which, for all its trouble, does lead the ACC Atlantic. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks have lost the two games on the schedule that I saw as toss-ups, with a split necessary to get to a 7-5 record. Sure, the Ole Miss win was one I didn't see coming, but my prediction of a victory against TTFTU is looking more suspect.
Let's be clear: 7-6 shouldn't cut it. Just getting to the Liberty Bowl or the Music City Bowl and waxing some hapless C-USA or ACC team -- even if we can do that -- isn't enough. And defeating TTFTU and losing to a better team in the postseason also can't be counted a success. Sure, this team is young and talented and blah blah blah. We've heard that before.
At some point, you have to prove that all that young talent is moving in the right direction. That means winning more than one of your last five games. I'm tired of getting six wins in the first two months and ending the season with six or seven and a feeling that, once again, we've wasted everything that we had going for us.
I don't know what the answer is here. I don't think it's getting rid of Steve Spurrier. You can criticize him for some of the bad decisions that he's made, and I'll agree with you. But he's still the best head coach South Carolina has had in at least 50 years and runs a much cleaner program than the guy who used to be our "leader." If you're going to can the Head Ball Coach, you have to make a convincing case that Mark Dantonio's just having a bad year or that we can somehow lure Charlie Strong back to Columbia.
Otherwise, we've got the best coach we can have. But I refuse to believe that this program or any other is incapable of some form of success. No, the Gamecocks aren't going to be in Atlanta in early December every year. But at least being in the running every once in a while might be nice. It can't be that hard.
I'm not about to say that there's nothing to be optimistic about. The offense appears to be developing the kind of offensive playmakers in Stephen Garcia and Kenny Miles and Alshon Jeffery that could power South Carolina to relevance. Maybe we are, as Spurrier has said recently, building the right way after trying to build the wrong way.
But after watching so many years of building, forgive me if I want to see some results before I get excited. Starting with winning two of the next three games.