Thursday Number Two Will Come First

This will be a first for the Gamecocks. And with it this season is shaping up to be the most exposed, nationally speaking, in the history of USC football ...

Moving a home game into a Thursday night time slot was not a difficult decision for the powers that be at South Carolina - so it shall be announced officially on Monday.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity because the official announcement is not set to be released until Monday, was told that this was basically a "no brainer."

"There were a couple of factors to be taken into consideration. First of all it fits perfectly into our schedule. We will be coming off of an off-week following the Tennessee game, so this shortens our down time between games but still allows us a break to heal and rest a bit."

"Secondly, this gives us a little extra time to prepare for LSU. Three days extra prep time may prove beneficial ... it was worth doing." has learned that other reasons played into the discussion as the AD's office and Coach Holtz mulled over the possibilities.

This Thursday night game will actually be played before the road game in Little Rock, Arkansas. Playing one at home, on a Thursday night in front of a nationally televised audience, will serve to acclimate the Gamecocks to the unusual pomp and hoopla Thursday night atmosphere before they play the later Thursday night game in Fayetteville.

It'll be good to for the Gamecocks to get a Thursday night game under their belts at home before they have to play the one on the road at Arkansas on Nobember 6.

And then there is the national exposure aspects of the switch. Thursday night games on ESPN have a captive audience. Players love to play them because they know everyone in the country is watching - they are the only game in town so to speak. Playing two ESPN Thursday night games in the same season is unusual and it could prove to be enough to elevate South Carolina's current recruiting efforts into very rarified air.

There is yet another possible benefit, one which is not a certainty but rather a possibility.

South Carolina could realize a slight revenue windfall provided Gamecock fans fill the stadium despite the game being moved to a weeknight. As long as the attendance figures are there, coupling the gate and concession numbers with the TV revenue could prove fruitful to the USC Athletic Department coffers if all the stars are aligned and the Gamecocks are experiencing a successful season when the Kentucky game rolls around.

This is a win win situation for everyone - except perhaps Kentucky who will have far fewer fans at the game thanks to the move - yet another potential advantage for the Gamecocks. And then there is the possibility that, with the State Fair in town at the time, this could pose less of a traffic problem as fewer Fair goers will vie for valuable parking spaces and access roads on a weeknight than they would on a peak Saturday.

This move should be considered a major tweak to the schedule in favor of the Gamecocks. One which could easily translate into perhaps an extra win or two during the course of the 2003 season - IF everything falls into place. Moving this game to a Thursday night between the Tennessee and LSU games adds a great deal of balance to the 2003 schedule - at least on paper. What needs to 'fall into place' for the Gamecocks is that they need to win both games.

The University of South Carolina Gamecocks and Lou Holtz last played a Thursday night ESPN game on September 20, 2001 in Starksville, Mississippi against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. It was a Gamecock victory (16-14), and the first college football game - the first nationally televised football game of any kind, following the 9/11 terrorist attack on the twin towers in New York City.

The Gamecocks played their first ever ESPN Thursday night game on November 22, 1990 in Williams-Brice Stadium, a 29-10 victory over Major Harris and the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Other nationally or regionally televised games already on the slate (or close to being) for the USC Gamecocks during the course of the 2003 season include:

6   Sept VIRGINIA (JP Sports)
13 Sept @ Georgia (CBS)
20 Sept UAB (CSS)
27 Sept @ Tennessee (CBS)

9   Oct KENTUCKY (ESPN) Thursday
18 Oct LSU (CBS or ESPN)

1   Nov @ Ole Miss (JP Sports)
6   Nov @ Arkansas (ESPN) Thursday

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