Originally created 10/01/00

Sound off

There's nothing like a little success on the gridiron to get University of South Carolina fans excited.

As a longtime follower of the Gamecocks program, I'm almost out of adjectives in describing the events of the past four weeks.

I was surprised by the ease of the win against New Mexico State, a victory that snapped the nation's longest losing streak.

I was stunned by the upset of Georgia and impressed with the simplicity of the triumph against Eastern Michigan.

And I was downright flabbergasted by the win over Mississippi State, where backup quarterback Erik Kimrey secured his place in South Carolina lore with his fourth-quarter heroics.

The Gamecocks faithful have been a long-suffering bunch. But I had to chuckle when some observers said the win against Georgia was the biggest in the program's history.

It was a great win for South Carolina, but the biggest ever? I doubt it.

Here is one man's view of South Carolina football superlatives, with an admitted slant toward the past 25 years:

Best team -- 1987 squad, which lost road games to Georgia, Nebraska and Miami and beat a very good Clemson squad at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Best player -- Probably George Rogers, the school's only Heisman Trophy winner. Old-timers probably would push for Steve Wadiak or Alex Hawkins; don't discount Sterling Sharpe, either.

Most fun to watch -- 1984 team by a landslide. The Gamecocks took college football by storm with a two-quarterback approach. Mike Hold and Allen Mitchell rallied the Gamecocks to improbable victories and the school's only 10-win season.

Biggest disappointment -- In a game, Navy, 1984. The loss to the Middies cost South Carolina a shot at the national title. For a season, the 1988 squad. After opening 6-0, the Gamecocks were blown out by Georgia Tech, Florida State, Clemson and Indiana, the latter in the Liberty Bowl.

Most exciting finish -- 1984 against Clemson. Gamecocks drive 86 yards for the tying touchdown in the game's final three minutes, then miss the extra point. But Clemson is penalized for having too many men on the field, and Scott Hagler makes good on the second try for a 22-21 win. Runner-up is the 1977 loss to Clemson. Trailing 24-0, the Gamecocks come back to take the lead 27-24. But Steve Fuller and Jerry Butler connect in the final seconds to win a thriller for the Tigers.

Biggest surprise -- 2000 Gamecocks. Who knew they could be this good? Most pundits had South Carolina with two wins, three at best.

Biggest win -- This one's a toughie. Road victories over Michigan, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Clemson are candidates. But I go back to that magical 1984 season, when South Carolina beat Florida State 38-26 in front of a national television audience and a sold-out crowd in Columbia. The win gave South Carolina a perfect 9-0 record and vaulted the team to No. 2 in the national polls.

Whether this year's South Carolina team can continue its improbable run remains to be seen. The realist in me sees losses on the horizon against the "Orange Crush" portion of the schedule. Victories over Kentucky, Arkansas and Vanderbilt certainly look more promising now than they did at the start of the year.

Hold on tight -- it should be a fascinating ride.


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