South Carolina Football: No. 12 Gamecocks Fairly Ranked in Coaches Poll?

Alex RobertsCorrespondent IAugust 4, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 04:  Head coach Steve Spurrier of the South Carolina Gamecocks looks on against the Auburn Tigers during the 2010 SEC Championship at Georgia Dome on December 4, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

South Carolina fans finally know where the team will start the season, thanks to today's unveiling of the USA Today Coaches Poll. 

They will begin the season ranked No. 12, just outside of the top 10.

Gamecocks fans should be happy about this placement.  With 779 total coaches points, they are just 50 away from the top 10 (Wisconsin has 829 total points at No. 10). 

For a team that likes to consider itself a dark-horse candidate for the national title, this is the perfect striking distance to do so. 

South Carolina hasn't been this highly ranked before a season in the last two decades.  The fans are used to seeing the team enter the season around No. 22-25, and that is on a super-hyped year. 

This is like the final crown jewel of Carolina hype.  The Gamecocks now have the ranking to back up the talk. 

Now, is 12th place truly a fair ranking?

My answer:  Yes. 

The team returns a who's-who of All-Americans and All-SEC performers.  Alshon Jeffery, Marcus Lattimore and, to some extent, Stephen Garcia are all Heisman candidates.  Devin Taylor and Stephon Gilmore are first-round talents in next year's draft.

They have one of the top freshmen in the country in Jadeveon Clowney, and based on recent reviews of him in practice, he could be better than anticipated. 

There is also a great deal of team speed (Damiere Byrd is a world-record holder in the 100-meter event), toughness (Byron Jerideau just claimed South Carolina's strongest football player record), and skill players.

Then there is the man who brought all of that talent together: Mr. Steve Spurrier.  Can you bet against him with all this talent?

Sure, the Gamecocks have not proven that they can finish a season, but that isn't enough to keep them from being this highly ranked.  This is truly setting up to be a magical season, if the players perform up to their potential.

It is great to be a Gamecock!