“It’s neat to beat Clemson because, historically, they’ve owned South Carolina, but they don’t own us right now, that’s for sure,” head coach Steve Spurrier said following the Gamecocks' 34-13 victory on Nov. 26.
After last night's humiliating 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl, the consensus was in. Heck, even Clemson fans admit it now.
The University of South Carolina Gamecock football program is currently light years ahead of the Clemson University Tigers program.
Now, before I begin to explain why, I have to say I understand historically that Clemson still has the better program history. It has a national championship. I understand this.
But currently, there isn't a contest.
It started right around the time Lou Holtz took over at South Carolina. While the Clemson Tigers still won the head-to-head games, Holtz created a national buzz around the program. He had a few very successful seasons, then handed to ball off to the real hero of the program.
Steve Spurrier, come on down and take a bow.
He did way more for the program than just winning games. He has taken South Carolina from a five-to-six-win program and turned it into an eight-to-eleven-win program. That's true.
But the real heroics come in other areas.
Spurrier upgraded every single athletic facility. He opened a new tutoring building and created a gorgeous new training facility. He took Williams-Brice Stadium and turned it from a drab, all-gray cement tomb to a Garnet and Black shrine to Gamecock football.
He's recruited better than ever. South Carolina has won the in-state recruiting battle every year. Clemson recruits well and can be ranked higher than the Gamecocks, but when it comes to the in-state guys, especially the big-name ones, the Gamecocks are always the team to beat.
The Gamecocks have built up this program to the point that this 11-2 year feels slightly disappointing. The culture and expectations are much higher now. The SEC has taken notice, and other SEC fans respect the Gamecocks now.
While Clemson toils away in the ACC and gets historically humiliated in bowl games.
Clemson had a fine season. However, on the national level, the Gamecocks are the premier sports university in South Carolina currently. This doesn't even take into account the fact the SC baseball team won two national championships in a row, plays in one of the finest stadiums in America and consistently beats the Tigers. Even SC's horrible basketball program is currently on a win streak against the Tigers.
I'm not trying to knock the Tigers or rub it in. They are still a good program. With the right coach, they could be great again.
However, this is a testament to the unthinkable.
While the Tigers own the Gamecocks historically, in the present you just need to look at the field to see who is currently on top.
You know what they say: There is no time like the present.
It's great to be a Gamecock.