It's time to get to know a little about our upcoming bowl opponent, the South Carolina Gamecocks. The first Q&A has to do with head coach Steve Spurrier, South Carolina traditions and the Gamecock fan base. Good enough to join us is John, or "Gamecock Man", from the SB Nation South Carolina site Garnet and Black Attack.
CN provided a similar Q&A segment for their fans. Head on over to Garnet and Black Attack and have some fun introducing yourselves. Hell, if nothing else, you can provide some more insight to what makes Husker fans tick. There's plenty of time left before the bowl game.
Steve Spurrier is revered? A savior? The greatest coach ever? Or just above average? How do USC fans feel about him?
He's revered by most. There's a small-but-vocal minority that are very critical anytime things go south, and it hasn't helped that we've yet to really field the characteristic Spurrier offense, but most realize that Spurrier has brought this program to unprecedented highs and are glad that we have him.
Your mascot is the Gamecock, which is clearly about cock fighting. Help us understand how your university can represent such an ugly sport.
Fair enough; it is an ugly sport. South Carolina has a historical connection to the concept, though. Thomas Sumter was an important Revolutionary War hero who bore the nickname "Gamecock" and who the mascot may invoke. The state has positive associations with the term due to Sumter, in any event.
It's somewhat unclear how and why we took up the mascot, but it may have something to do with an interesting incident that occurred with the Clemson rivalry. As for today, it's state's pride or historical intertia, depending on your perspective. As for myself, I'm all for it. I recognize that it on one level represents something violent, but that's not what it means to most of us. Instead, it represents the unique character of the state and its traditions. It's meaning, for us, is divorced from the sport of cock fighting, and you can't really replace the idea that it does represent by claiming another mascot.What's the take from South Carolina fans on this bowl match up? Does the idea that you're facing Nebraska bring any excitement to the game, or are fans more excited about the prospect of their first 10-win season since 1984?
We're very excited about the matchup. Although part of the excitement stems from a big bowl bid and one of our best seasons ever, we're excited about playing a historically successful program. The feeling is that a win over a program like Nebraska will be a good thing for our stature.
We've already won ten, BTW, so we're actually going for our first 11-win season ever. Not something we're proud of historically speaking, of course, but certainly something we're excited about for this season.
This whole Big Ten vs SEC thing is new to us, obviously. Give us an idea of how South Carolina fans view the Big Ten bowl matchups, and how they view Nebraska now that we're in the Big Ten.
Well, it should be noted that South Carolina is relatively new to the SEC, and we don't have a history of playing in the SEC-B10 bowls each year, so the historical rivalry between the two conferences is somewhat new to us, too. That said, a lot of South Carolina fans take pride in their SEC affiliation, and they know beating a good B10 team in a bowl will garner the respect of our rivals, so we're into the idea. I guess it's hard to think about Nebraska in the B10, and it's true that the teams SEC programs really want a crack at are Ohio St. and Michigan. That said, as I mentioned, even if it lacks the B10 midwest aura, Nebraska is just as historically successful as those teams, so we know this is a big-time matchup.
It's my understanding that USC has a very loyal fan base despite having never won a SEC title (after joining in 1992) and having won the SEC East only once (2010). Is this true, and to what do you attribute such loyalty? (For comparison, Nebraska has regularly competed for Big Eight titles, and Big 12 titles over the past 40 or so years. It's pretty easy being a Husker fan most years.)
USC has a fanbase that has historically supported the team through poor seasons. We've regularly sold out a large stadium while in the midst of very average performances. In that sense, yeah, we have a very supportive fanbase. I do, though, think things have changed of late. There was a bit of angst while the team struggled (somewhat) during the mid-season this year, which was surprising considering that we were in the midst of a season that has been historically among our best. The fanbase is still loyal, but it's beginning to expect more. Why that is, I'm not sure. It's partially that Spurrier has risen the bar for success here, and partially that it's more expensive to be a fan these days.
How loyal are Gamecock fans to other sports beyond football? (You can go on about your two baseball titles if you like!)
Interesting question. Basketball attendance is at an all-time low right now, and lots of fans are arguing about why that's the case. Of course, it's partially that the basketball team isn't doing well right now, but there seems to be a sentiment among some fans that this is a "football-baseball" school; that seems to be how some want to identify. So, that leads to less support for some of the other sports than might be ideal. Personally, I'd like to see people get behind basketball, as I'd love to see us field a good team.
For baseball, as you might imagine, Gamecocks fans are among the most supportive in the nation. Of course, baseball is by far our most successful sport--we've only just recently won the two national titles, but we've always been good and have come close to winning it all a few times before. So fans have a lot to cheer about with baseball.
Cheers, sayings, things Gamecock fans say to one another or during a game. What can Husker fans expect to hear from your fans?
The best is probably the "Game" "Cocks" cheer. One part of the stadium yells "Game," the other part then yells "Cocks." You can get a sense of this here. It can be pretty impressive if the whole stadium gets going. You of course won't get the full effect at a neutral site, but you'll hear it.