As a diehard SEC fan of course I wanted Auburn to defeat Florida State; however, since that didn't happen, I'm still able to find some solace in knowing that the trophy stays in the Deep South. At least Florida is an SEC state. (I’m just thankful that neither Clemson nor Ohio State lucked up and made it to the grand finale.) Obviously, Florida State is for real. My feeling is that they're at least the equal of any team in the SEC. It’s just their misfortune – but also their luck – that they play in the lowly ACC. Still, as good as they may be, I doubt they would’ve gone undefeated if they’d’ve had to play a full SEC schedule.
In the end, I didn’t really see any clear cut #1 team this year. I figure any of those in the final Top 5 (Top 10?) would’ve been very capable of winning the nationall championship, and when the teams are that close in overall quality, then it comes down to sheer luck. While luck certainly carried Auburn into the championship game, luck could just as easily have given the Gamecocks a title shot. (Now I wonder if Luck will win out over Brady this weekend.)
I believe that Jimbo Fisher may yet prove to be the second coming of Bobby Bowden. If he can recruit like Bowden, the Seminoles may end up dominating the ACC for a decade or so. On that note, I've always felt that if Coach Spurrier had stayed at Florida, by now he’d most likely be every bit as legendary as Bowden, Bryant, Paterno, or any of the other long-term successful coaches. Of course, when you consider what he's accomplished at Duke, Florida, and with our Gamecocks, he's already arguably the greatest college coach of all time. Let's keep his as long as we can!
This whole season long I kept noticing that neither the Gamecocks nor Shaw were getting the respect they deserved. The unfortunate loss to Tennessee obviously had a lot to do with that. In any event, even though we were in the Top 10 for most of the season, you never heard much from the national media about Spurrier’s team beyond Clowney and his nagging problems. At the same time, you heard an awful lot about Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, & Dabo, not to mention Mariota, Manziel, Mettenberger, Murray, Missouri & Franklin, Ohio State & Miller, Baylor & Petty, Louisville & Bridgewater, etc., etc. Even as the ‘Cocks continued to win, their national coverage didn’t seem to increase. Instead, you heard more about how some of the “better” teams like Oregon, Georgia, and Florida (!) had started losing. Only at season’s end, after seeing how the bowls played out, did South Carolina finally get some begrudging respect from the “big boys,” which is reflected in our #4 final finish. Only after all was said and done did the national media come to realize just how solid the Gamecocks – and how great Shaw – had been.
The Gamecocks may be gradually getting better year-to-year, but they certainly don’t have much to show for it. Not yet, that is. No SEC title and not a single BCS bowl. It’s bizarre that we won the SEC East with a 9-win season, then followed that up with three consecutive 11-win seasons, but no East title, even though
in each of those three years we managed to beat the eventual East champion. That’s really weird! Recent baseball success notwithstanding, don’t believe that the “Chicken Curse” has been completely eradicated! I'm confident that continued hard work – and, if needed, a certain amount of luck – will bring our football team its first-ever SEC title in 2014, which would certainly land us in the Final Four. Once we get there anything can happen. Having said that, though, I seriously doubt we’ll be favored by many to win even the SEC East this year. I’m afraid we have more respect yet to earn. It's extremely comforting to know that in Coach Spurrier we have the man who can get the job done.