South Carolina is set up for an extremely important 2011 football season (and offseason). After achieving many school firsts in 2010, early predictions have South Carolina and Georgia battling it out for the SEC East.
This will be the first time in school history that South Carolina will have any SEC-related championship to defend.
I am sure that we have all gotten a head start on our New Year's resolutions. Lose a few pounds. Quit drinking. Quit acting awkward in social engagements (Vanderbilt fans).
Whatever it may be, everyone needs to try to make one.
Well, don't worry, South Carolina! I have done yours for you!
Okay, okay...I know, technically this isn't New Year's. However, December 31st against Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl has serious implications for 2011.
Can South Carolina get over the bowl hump? Can they get to the elusive 10th win? Can they have a decent ranking at the end of the season, thus paving the way for a high preseason ranking?
These questions are as tasty as a spicy chicken sandwich.
With a side of waffle fries.
The football program needs to make a university-wide push to get more garnet and black around the South Carolina academic campus.
For the Clemson game this year, the vista on Main Street unveiled garnet and black flags to hang on the light posts. It created a welcome sense of university pride in the athletic teams.
The football team should try to rally the other sporting teams together and see if they can't create a more energetic and team spirit-based campus.
This should be a no-brainer. The expectations at South Carolina went through the roof once the baseball team won the NCAA national championship. The "chicken curse" that was thought to be lurking around South Carolina sports was destroyed.
The football team (or as many as possible) should make a resolution to be at the awards ceremony slated for South Carolina's home baseball game to honor the program that finally destroyed the ugly curse stigma.
Viva la Yardcocks!
Now, for my sappy slide.
The children in urban South Carolina could use some more male role models in their lives. Most kids in the Richland County School Districts (Columbia's school district) would be delirious to see the likes of Steve Spurrier and Marcus Lattimore.
So Steve, shoot me an email. I teach third grade! We will make it happen!
But seriously, assigning groups of three to hit the schools in that district once or twice would make a world of difference.
Stephen Garcia made huge strides during the offseason of 2010, but that was because Spurrier was working him like a puppet, even if he couldn't really "coach" him during the offseason.
If you don't think his media mind games weren't there to motivate Garcia, then you are pretty foolish. This season, it needs to happen again.
Garcia has been mentioned as one of the SEC's most underrated quarterbacks. He has the physical gifts to be the best. I don't care if you have to hire a ninja assassin (off the record, of course) to follow him around throwing batarangs or whatever they throw to make him work out, as long as he does.
There is a lot of fan reaction to this. Before the SEC Championship Game—or Auburn Coronation, as I like to call it—there was a rumor (perpetrated by an online picture) that South Carolina had a new uniform it would unveil. It was an interesting design with a black jersey, red pants and pewter gray helmet.
It turned out to be a hoax, but the idea got fans talking.
Under Armour has already stated there will be a newly designed jersey. Great. Now, the helmets. Let's modernize the gamecock. The classic white looks good, but the team needs some more edge.
The team has had black helmets and garnet helmets.
Maybe it is time for something all new.
One of the best things Steve Spurrier has done since being a coach at South Carolina has not been play-related.
He took the cold gray of Williams-Brice and turned it into a garnet and black Carolina land, lovingly nicknamed "The Brice" or "The Cockpit."
They still need more. Fans pack the stadium out, and there is still plenty of area for improving the game day atmosphere. More flags and digital printings, like the ones found on the outside ramps, could go a long way in making home field feel like home.
I think every South Carolina fan would agree that this is the most critical on-field New Year's resolution the team must have.
I don't care how it happens. Change schemes. Motivate players more. Heck, take open auditions for the roles of cornerback and safety for all I care...
However, this has to be better, or South Carolina will be a one-and-done division champ. Aaron Murray is the real deal and can carve up a defense.
Stephon Gilmore better have a "come to Jesus" moment with his fellow defensive backs.
Starting in the bowl game.
Marcus Lattimore's mother said it took a little jig from Steve Spurrier to get Marcus to firmly commit to South Carolina.
I don't care if Steve Spurrier buys a pole and dances around in his underooskies. If that is what it takes to get Jadeveon Clowney to come to Carolina, it needs to happen.
Clowney is the defensive star that could equal the Marcus Lattimore impact on that side of the ball. He is a freakish athlete and could even improve the already stellar rushing defense.
It is also perfect timing, as Cliff Matthews will be riding off into the sunset.
So come on, Spurrier. Go bananas.
Not to undersell the importance of this season, but the haters do have a point.
This would have been a failure of a season for Alabama, Florida or any of the regular contenders.
While I am really excited about this year, there were a lot of missed opportunities. South Carolina could have closed out Auburn and Kentucky during the regular season and had a real chance at being 12-2 this season.
Hell, they could have...um...you know...showed up to the SEC Championship Game.
Until South Carolina has sustained excellence (how many people remember South Carolina's back-to-back Outback Bowl champion, nine-win teams during the Lou Holtz era?) and wins an SEC championship, there will always be a lack of respect for the 100-year-old football program.
If there is one New Year's resolution I hope the team takes, it is this one.
Put this year behind them, and create their own bright future.