South Carolina Football: Gamecocks Gain Valuable Edge with New Texas A&M Rivalry
Steve Spurrier must be ecstatic with the news that Texas A&M will emerge as South Carolina's new cross-division rival. He and his powerhouse program gain more than anyone could have imagined with the switchup of cross-division rivals.
First, a little history.
When USC entered the conference in 1992, the Gamecocks were paired with SEC moving buddy Arkansas, mostly out of convenience rather than tradition. Since Spurrier's entrance to the program in 2005, South Carolina has gone 2-5 against the Hogs, losing the last three straight.
As Texas A&M and Missouri take their leave of the Big 12 and settle into the SEC for the first time next season, the entire conference has begun to readjust dramatically due to the addition to two new programs.
WIth the Aggies merging with the West division and the Tigers moving into their slot in the East, the two immediately became, just like South Carolina and Arkansas in 1992, cross-division rivals. However, the Razorbacks had different plans for the geographically ideal rivalry they saw available with Missouri.
At the SEC spring meetings this past May, the league agreed to pair Mizzou and Arkansas together as cross divisional rivals, allowing the Tigers to gain a new "Border War" with the Razorbacks after having lost the century-old tradition with Kansas by removing themselves from the Big 12.
Accordingly, the Gamecocks and Aggies reluctantly agreed to match together as each other's cross-division rivals, both seemingly gaining nothing with the decision. In fact, the two programs have never even met on the gridiron before, making the new matchup the least genuine "rivalry" in the conference.
If, however, you're a follower of the great sport of college football, you may have already caught on to the reason for Spurrier' excitement. The Gamecocks, who reside in Columbia, SC and sit an SEC-furthest 1035 miles from College Station, TX, earn unencumbered access to the largest state in the contiguous United States.
By the way, "access" refers specifically to one of the most important features of any strong football program; recruiting.
Texas stands as the second most populous and the most fertile football recruiting ground in the nation by no contest. Year after year, the Lone Star state produces some of the country's top prospects and now, with the new "rivalry" in place, South Carolina will have an "in" with every Texas athlete Spurrier desires to look into.
Since the old ball coach arrived in Columbia, he has acquired exactly one prospect from Texas in two-star kicker Ryan Doerr. Obviously, South Carolina isn't anywhere near the gigantic state, giving Spurrier the pass in my book for recent recruiting classes.
However, USC now owns a notable asset no other SEC East program has with their free pass into Texas. No sane fan would argue that picking up more of the nation's best would only go to hurt one of the league's top programs. In fact, many would go to say that South Carolina's recruiting should only improve with this new cross-division rivalry.
Overall, the Gamecocks gain an opportunity, one that Spurrier should exploit to every extent of his power.
South Carolina has teetered on the edge of becoming a member of college football's elite club for what feels like years now; USC may have finally gained the critical advantage to tip them over the edge.
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