What a time to be a sports fan in the state of South Carolina!
With the South Carolina Gamecocks Men’s and Women’s teams both reaching the Sweet 16 yesterday, the Palmetto State sports world has not stopped buzzing.
It all began with the Clemson Tigers two seasons ago.
Clemson had reached their first College Football Playoff and dominated the Oklahoma Sooners on New Years Eve to get a crack at the Alabama Crimson Tide. Even though the Tigers came up just short that season, their fight in the National Title game against the dynastic Bama squad was beyond admirable.
Then came spring and summer and Omaha.
The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers were probably the 3rd team in the state on everybody’s mind heading into the NCAA Baseball tournament last summer, but they were the last remaining in Omaha at the College World Series. The boys from Myrtle defeated the Arizona Wildcats in 3-games to bring our state its first national title of the year (and change).
We then shifted our focus to Saturdays, where Clemson was ready to follow-up its near miss against Bama with the expectation of getting back to the big game and winning it this time.
There were some rough times for Clemson fans on their road to glory this season, with the close calls against Troy and NC State and the loss to Pittsburgh. The thing is, none of it ever slowed down the Tigers themselves. Fans may have worried and rivals may have mocked, but Dabo and the gang never seemed to be bothered and went on to get the job done and bring home the Palmetto’s state’s second National Title in less than a year’s time.
Now, I’m not stupid, I know that a Sweet 16 birth in the NCAA tournament isn’t a national title. I know that even though I have a ton of great Clemson fan friends that offered congratulations for the South Carolina win over Duke, it doesn’t change what happened on the field in Death Valley last November. The thing is, this piece isn’t about National Championships alone…it’s about the consistent success that we’ve been surrounded by in recent history.
Since 2010, we’ve seen the Tigers win multiple ACC football titles and the Gamecocks have won an SEC East division title and two National Titles in baseball. Add the most recent Coastal and Clemson national titles to the mix as well as the other handful of bowl game championships that the Tigers and Gamecocks have taken home. The hardware is there, but not the entire story.
It’s been a wild ride for South Carolina sports fans over the last 7-years and I don’t think it’s showing any signs of stopping.
The Gamecocks have a very real possibility of continuing this run and reaching the Elite Eight on the Men’s side of things with a very winnable game against Baylor in the next round. The Gamecocks women’s team has a very good chance of winning the battle for 2nd best in their tourney…which is basically like winning it all in the era of UConn Women’s dominance.
Beyond the hardwood, the Gamecocks baseball team is starting to hit their stride and the Clemson baseball team continues to look like one of, if not the, best in the country. So again, Omaha may be a family affair. Plus, it’s not like Clemson’s football program is going anywhere and the Gamecocks are trending up on the gridiron.
The sports mecca that is South Carolina may have to settle for college and minor league options alone…but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t major league caliber! Just think about it, I didn’t even include Wofford and Furman’s successes in this piece.
I don’t want you to shut off your allegiances and root for your rival, but at least turn down the rivalry hate for just a minute and take some pride being a resident of the Palmetto State today! .
Oh yeah, and…
Forever to thee! Go Gamecocks!
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