Let’s go back to October 7th, 2012.
That Sunday, Gamecock fans were on top of the world. South Carolina had just rocked Georgia, 35-7. Analysts from every major network and every fan in the Palmetto State thought Clowney was going to win the Heisman and the Gamecocks were going to roll through the rest of their schedule, win the SEC and play for a National Championship.
The next week South Carolina went to Baton Rouge and lost to LSU. The week after, they went to Gainesville and played what turned out to be a very strange game, losing by multiple touchdowns to a Florida team that finished 11-2 and played in the Sugar Bowl.
The lesson in all of this? Things are never as good as they seem. And in the case of Thursday night, things are never as bad as they seem.
South Carolina didn’t play well against Texas A&M. In fact, it’s a safe bet to say that they played poorly, even terribly at times. It was everything fans hoped it wouldn’t be, and a season that started with national hype and attention quickly turned to embarrassment.
This was the first game of a long season. The Gamecocks could very easily turn things around with a solid outing against East Carolina next week, beat Georgia the week after and all of a sudden this season is the one everyone hoped it would be. But by the talk of Gamecock fans after last night’s game, you would think this was 1999 and South Carolina had just lost their eleventh game in a row.
From tweets to message boards to radio shows, fans weren’t happy after last night’s performance. And they have every right to be displeased with the product that was put on the field. What was unfortunate was the way that fans displayed their disappointment, particularly in pointing fingers at specific players.
Multiple tweets blamed specific players, calling them out and blaming them for the loss. Others called out coaches blaming them for the poor performance. Others phoned into local radio shows asking why it is that we were going back to being the “shamecocks” and saying we will be lucky to win four games this year.
Yes, this isn’t the entire fan base. But it’s too many. And the sad part is that the team is noticing. The following is a tweet for running back Mike Davis:
Davis later removed the tweet and replaced it with a “Gamecock Nation has the best fans.” But the point was made: the players realize they didn’t play well but also realized that their own fans weren’t the least bit supportive.
This can’t happen. Yes, it was a poor performance. Yes, every Gamecock fan expected more from a team that was ranked 9th in the nation. But completely turning against your team after one game is the epitome of a fair weather fan, which is something South Carolina fans have always taken pride in not being.
South Carolina is 0-1. They are not 0-3, 0-7, or 0-12. They lost their first game of the season to a good football team that was ranked 21st in the country and most likely underrated by nearly every national analyst. It was the first game of a season that still has at least 11 (possibly more) games left.
There is a better way to vent frustration. A way that doesn’t make a fan base that prides itself on being the best in the nation look unsupportive to its players, coaches and maybe more importantly its recruits. South Carolina still has everything to play for this year. The good side of what was a poor performance: everything can be fixed.
Gamecock fans, the sun still came up Friday morning. This program won 33 games over the last three years. Fans need to remember where this program was and how far it’s come. One game doesn’t define a team, a program, or a season. Get excited about this team again and pack the Brice next Saturday night.