Columbia, South Carolina: the University of South Carolina. The Dirty Dirty. Seersuckers and Spurrier. Five Points and The Vista. Pimiento cheese and grits. The Palmetto tree. Highway 378 and fried chicken. The SEC.
And, because the proud university’s mascot is the Gamecock, Columbia is the only city I know of where the word “cock” is acceptable by people of all ages—at nearly any place or time.
The largest city in the state, Columbia is nicknamed “The Capital City of Southern Hospitality,” and with good cause. Neighbors are quick to help each other out, and favors are the norm.
Also known as CockTown or Cockville by some, the city is diverse in its offerings, giving a home to kayaking enthusiasts, sports and music fans, theater lovers, art aficionados, and museum and natural history buffs.
Two hours from the beach or the mountains, three hours to Atlanta, and four hours to Florida, Columbia is also nicely situated for traveling in the southeast.
But really, Columbia can be boiled down to three things: family, food, and football. And usually, all three are celebrated at the same time, especially in the fall when college football season gets going.
With the way the SEC is scheduled, each year the Gamecocks face off against the Florida Gators in the final SEC game of the season for both teams. And it’s that game that Gamecock fans point to at the beginning of the year.
One year, not long from now, that game will send the Gamecocks to Atlanta.
And it will go like this:
Both teams will enter the game with one conference loss. The Mighty Gators will come to Columbia riding high on all kinds of press and media hype. Urban Meyer’s championship rings will be freshly polished prior to the game.
Meanwhile, the lowly Gamecocks will come in with a chip on their shoulders after being considered a “fluke” by the experts. But the Head Ball Coach will have a few tricks up his sleeve.
The fifty degree November night will be perfect.
Family and friends will gear up for the game with an assortment of fried foods, some cold beers, and the obligatory “toss the football around until it becomes a full-blown game.”
ESPN will be in town. Rumors of Spurrier’s resignation at season’s end will be all the rage. Herbstreit might even offer a name for his replacement.
And then, everything will disappear, music will pump out of the speakers, the fans will go berserk, players will head-butt each other, and like the crack of a lightning strike, the ball will be kicked off.
A 60-minute defensive battle will ensue. But fate will be on the side of the Gamecocks that night, and despite an inconsistent offensive performance, South Carolina, down five with a few minutes remaining, will march down the field.
And even though everyone knows it’s coming, the fade route to the corner of the endzone will be executed perfectly as time runs out.
Fans will rush the field.
The focus will shift to Spurrier, who won’t be able to fight back his tears after defeating his former team to earn a spot in the SEC Championship game. His post-game interview with Erin Andrews will be legendary.
And all across Columbia, the celebration will roll on for years…told again and again over lunch after church, at the Spring barbeque on the back porch, after father and son finish the yardwork together on a blazing summer afternoon.
Yes, sir. That’s how we do it in the Dirty South.
This tribute to Columbia is in response to Chris Radez’s “My Town Rocks” series.