OK, time to confess.
I didn't think South Carolina could win this year's College World Series.
Another confession: I'm a South Carolina grad, class of '87. Don't draw any deep conclusions.
Before the regionals began, I had a few folks ask me to assess the Gamecocks' chances. My answer: I thought they could make it back to Omaha, but I was worried about the pitching. I thought they'd bow out gracefully with a win, maybe two.
Turns out, I was wrong. Very wrong.
The pitching and defense were great, and the offense did just enough to win.
Maybe I was content with South Carolina's success last year. Maybe I remembered the 1984 football team's loss at Navy that ruined a possible title. Maybe I remember talking about buying NCAA Final Four tickets the year the Gamecocks were dumped by Coppin State. In the first round, no less.
As my wife and I watched the victory over Florida on Tuesday night that clinched the school's third national title, and second in a sport that I cared about, there was no big "a-ha" moment. Last year was more emotional because, well, it was the first.
This year? I won't say I felt entitled, because I didn't. It was more of a calm, peaceful feeling.
After the way South Carolina beat Virginia on Friday night, and the way they handled pressure in the first game against Florida on Monday, I really wasn't worried. As I blogged yesterday, it seemed destiny was finally on the Gamecocks' side. And it was.
As I told my wife this morning, this must be how fans of the "name" schools must feel after multiple titles. You know, Duke basketball, Alabama football ... Augusta State golf?
Which led me to another thought. Which of our local schools has the most Division I championships? (USC Aiken, my former stomping grounds, has three Division II golf titles.) Sadly, google and wikipedia are not much help. UCLA, Stanford and Southern Cal are tops overall, with just over 100 or around that figure for combined men's and women's NCAA titles.
Augusta State has two golf titles. South Carolina has two baseball titles and a women's track and field, for three.
Clemson's haul includes football, golf and soccer titles. Georgia Tech has won in football, I know, and some other sports, presumably golf.
That leaves Georgia. When I saw that the GymDogs had won 10 NCAA titles in gymnastics, I quit searching. I know the Bulldogs have won in football, baseball and golf, and tennis, too.
But that's OK. The Gamecocks might be lacking depth in the national title department, but they've got plenty of quality with this "back to back" baseball bunch.
Last year's CWS title seemed to inspire the South Carolina football team to an SEC East title. Can it happen again?
We'll find out soon. Kickoff is 66 days away.