Faithful Gamecocks fans wouldn't miss title game

Chris Fulmer has attended more than 300 consecutive University of South Carolina football games.


He has seen some of the Gamecocks' biggest victories, including the 1984 win over Florida State, and he was there for the 21-game losing streak that stretched across the 1998-1999 seasons.

Now, with the Gamecocks playing in their first Southeastern Conference championship game today in Atlanta, there is no way Fulmer will miss it.

"I'm still riding high," said Fulmer, who lives in Aiken. "Looking back through the season, I'm amazed at some of the accomplishments."

The accomplishments include beating No. 1 Alabama, winning at Florida for the first time and claiming the SEC Eastern Division for the school's first football title since 1969.

Fulmer and a group of more than 30 fanatics who call themselves the Ultimate Tailgaters are making the trek to Atlanta, where the Gamecocks play Auburn at 4 p.m.

The last game Fulmer, 49, missed was in 1984, when the Gamecocks beat Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. His patience and faith have been rewarded with this year's season.

"I'm just glad I'm getting to see some Gamecock firsts," he said.

It has been a banner year for all sports, he said. The basketball team knocked off No. 1 Kentucky early in the year, and the baseball team won the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., this summer.

"The total year, Gamecock-wise, it will probably go down as our greatest sports year ever," Fulmer said.

Jason Newsome, of North Augusta, does not have as long of a history with the Gamecocks, but he is excited to make today's trip. For the second week in a row, the 29-year-old Newsome has changed his Facebook name to reflect South Carolina's opponent. This week, his middle name is "BeatAuburn."

"It was a good-luck charm, and hopefully it will pay off again," he said with a laugh.

Newsome, who witnessed South Carolina's back-to-back Outback Bowl wins over Ohio State after the 2000 and 2001 seasons, plans on getting to Atlanta early today to take it all in.

"It's been crazy. It's not something, honestly, that as a Gamecock fan since I was 2 years old, that I thought I'd ever see," he said. "I had to find a way to get myself there and be a part of it."