Overall, 2015 was a tough sports year for South Carolina and its fans. The lone bright spot may have the Dawn Staley-led women's basketball team making the Women's Final Four. While a great and fantastic achievement for the program and university, the rest of the athletic teams did not hold up their end, for the most part.
With the new year around the corner, here is a few things South Carolina should leave in 2015:
The Spurrier Banner
Prior to the opening game of the 2014 season against the Texas A&M Aggies, South Carolina renovated the outside of the west side of Williams-Brice Stadium slightly by adding a 85 foot tall banner of head coach Steve Spurrier. The debut game of the banner against the Aggies resulted in a 52-28 shellacking, snapping the longest home winning streak in the nation (at the time) at 18 games. The banner was removed in December since Spurrier will no longer be pacing the sidelines as South Carolina's head coach. The banner held a record of ten wins in two seasons; of those ten, 6 of them were home wins.
Not Making The Post-Season In Baseball
The South Carolina baseball team missed out on the NCAA Baseball Tournament for the first time since 1999 with a 32-25 record. South Carolina has arguably the best baseball facilities and the most prolific run in CWS history from 2010-2013, resulting in two National Championships (2010,2011). They recruit at a high level year in and year out and are historically a great baseball program, so there are no excuses for a program of this stature to miss the postseason. Hopefully for Chad Holbrook it was just a bad season, which did result in many injuries, including All-American ace pitcher Wil Crowe (Tommy John surgery). The bad news for Carolina and Crowe is the he will not return for 2016; still, South Carolina should never miss the postseason in baseball with all the advantages and recent success they have had.
Not Making The Post-Season In Men's Basketball
Frank Martin, as of this writing, has South Carolina ranked in the Top 25 in both major polls for the first time since 2004, the last time the Gamecocks made the NCAA Tournament. It's been a long road for Frank Martin and South Carolina, but he finally has his team on the right track as they've jolted to their best start since the 1933-1934 season. It's been long overdue for a postseason bid to the Big Dance, and while an NIT bid for the Gamecocks program would be great and still considered postseason play, the way the Gamecocks have started has everyone's eyes on the NCAA Tournament. It's time for South Carolina to experience that again.
I'm not saying South Carolina should do away with the same helmet they've used for the past 15 years altogether, but it was refreshing for Gamecock fans to finally see an alternate helmet on the field. It was well known Steve Spurrier was a fan of consistent uniforms with very little change. It's just who he was. Heck, it was just a big deal to wear black uniforms, which is a school color! Despite the awful season, seeing the athletic department and Ray Tanner are devoted to provide even a three win team updated and more snazzy designs is great and should leave fans to see more it in the future. The players love it, the fans love it, and recruits love it. Could it be the start of a rebranding of the program as new leadership in the form of Will Muschamp has taken control? Don't be surprised to see even more new helmet designs or even alternate jerseys in the future.
Losing To FCS Opponents
The low point and absolute rock bottom moment for the 2015 South Carolina football season was, hands down, the 23-22 home loss to The Citadel. Even with the season South Carolina had, losing to an FCS opponent should never occur. Especially for a Power 5 team. It is inexcusable. Again, all credit to The Citadel. They deserved the victory 100%, but with the amount of financial interest South Carolina provides its football program, and the level at which they recruit at compared to any FCS program, they should never lose to a FCS opponent. An FCS team will beat a Power 5 team again, but it shouldn't be something that happens again for a long time if you're South Carolina, considering the last time they did lose to an FCS opponent was in 1990...to The Citadel.