Things are very upbeat around the entire athletics program at South Carolina these days and rightfully so. There have been a few minor bumps in the road but certainly nothing major. For all practical purposes, this is shaping up to be a banner year in Gamecock Sports.
First of all our condolences to Batcock, Megacockfan and their families on the loss of their father Wednesday. This brother/sister combo are two of our favorite posters here at GCN. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Also, former Gamecock Great, Quarterback Jeff Grantz, lost his father this week. Jeff is part of our WVOC pre-game show and to many Gamecock fans, he is the greatest USC QB of all time. Our condolences go out to Jeff and his family as well.
One more bit of information concerning the details of the Carlos Powell and Josh Gonner incidents. Carlos had been working out and was headed back to the Roost. He did a U-turn in front of a closed gate and was pulled over. Carlos was unaware that his liscense had been suspended for failure to pay a parking ticket. Needless to say, he was ticketed for driving on a suspended license. One small thing always leads to another it seems. And as to Josh Gonner's incident, he was not drinking. I know Josh Gonner personally and simply put he does not drink. He was pulled and charged with driving without a license after attempting to drive a friend home who asked for his help who had been drinking. Good intentions, bad decision. Josh has promised that he will now go get his driver's license. He has never had one before. He is a good kid.
You read about both of those incidents in the local newspaper correct? But did you read about the incidents with Ty Hill and Ariesse Currie from Clemson? You did? The one incident, the fight between those two Clemson football players and the FSU tracksters. Few knew that two (2) players ended up hospitalized. But even fewer knew this. According to my sources Currie and Hill have actually been involved in three separate altercations this year during the track season. The first was during the ACC Championships. The second was during the NCAA Indoors. And then the third was the one you read or heard about during the NCAA Outdoors. I have it from reliable sources that the actual physical violence of these incidents varied as to their level of intensity. Which begs the question ... Why? If there is a pattern developing here, (and obviously there is), why the third incident was considered such a minor infraction given the previous history? Is there any doubt that if it had been South Carolina tracksters (or particular football players running track), it would have been front page A-1 news in The State Newspaper? You see, once a student climbs aboard a bus or a plane as a representative of a school, he technically is on the court of play once he or she takes to the road. What I am saying here is that if these incidents occured at NCAA sanctioned events, then these were in essence three separate unsportsmanlike violations just as if they had happened on the court or the field of play according to the letter of the NCAA law. So imagine what would happen to a player who was flagged for consecutive unsportsmanlike violations - three games in a row. Think about that for a moment and understand the seriousness of the nature of the alledged infractions. Perhaps this may prompt someone to do some digging with the same fervor and enthusiasm in which they dig for infractions where USC is concerned. When it comes to The State Newspaper, don't hold your breath! Their Clemson beat writer is probably not interested and neither are the so-called unbiased editors. But you would think the local hometown Greenville News would cover this in detail, would you not? I mean they did cover the Gonner and Powell lesser incidents on their front page.
Then again, sometimes, even people who claim themselves 'our very own' dig for things when nothing is there. Take for instance a recent front page report from my competitor's web site charging that Cory Boyd had been suspended from the football team. Old news right? Wrong. They continue to pass emails and share private messages claiming that they will be vindicated. They continue to assert that Cory Boyd was/is suspended from the team and that it will ultimately be proven. Yet we know for a fact that this was never true in any fashion. Cory Boyd is not suspended from the team and never was - not for a moment. To add insult to injury they, their people on 'the other web site', have been circulating rumors to various outlets that the Gamecocks may lose as many as five (5) players prior to the opening of summer workouts. Again, not true. No where close to true. Sure, there are always players cutting it close academically. That happens in every program every year - it's like clockwork. But it seems that in an effort to validate their earlier bogus report that Boyd had been suspended, (what we now know to be an irresponsible and erroneous report completely void of any fact whatsoever) ... that now, through the grapevine they have upped the anty and implied that five may be gone by August. Wonder why? Do they really believe that Gamecock fans can be suckered into subscribing by reporting bogus and false information as front page breaking news? And was the potential for program damage not considered before the decision was made to publish the story?
Here are the facts.
Cory Boyd, and a few others, took the 'voluntary workout' rule literally. And they should have. It is a voluntary workout, unsupervised by the coaches. A workout schedule in which the players are given the opportunity to hone their skills in the weightroom during the offseason at 6:30 am in the morning. So Boyd decided not to participate once or twice ... Boyd and a few others. Anyway, imagine that you are 19 years old again and it is summertime in South Carolina. Do you want to have to get up at 5:30 in the morning to workout at 6:30 am? Especially when, in your mind, you feel like doing the workout at 8:30 pm is just as beneficial as the earlier time frame. So anyway, some early workouts were missed. Players were 'encouraged to do their best' let's say, and from there the rumors ensued and were blown out of proportion - eventually ending up as a dismissal from the team. It was negative and incorrect press that sent many a beat writer in this state chasing ghosts looking for a story. It caused an uproar that was unnecessary. It made Boyd look bad because now there are questions about his character when there need not be. Trust me, Boyd has a little attitude, but he is a hard worker, an extremely good kid that loves playing the game.
The balance of the story, the effect of the cause if you will, is that a number of players have decided not to attend session II summer school. Instead they will work out on their own and at their own pace while giving their bodies some recorvery time before heading into summer practices. As I understand it the year round football pressures are getting to kids everywhere, all over the country. No longer an eight or nine month a year sport. College football has become a 365 day a year grind. To some of the kids, this takes a bit of "the fun" out of the game. Some feel it is pushed down their throats morning, noon and night 24/7. I guess you could call this a rebellion of sorts, but as I checked around this is happening all over the SEC. Kids are tired and they need a break. The positive of all of this is that the kids will have a few weeks between first session summer and the time when summer practices begin in which to share time with the friends and family doing things that normal people do. A chance to recharge their batteries if you will. Me personally ... I think this is a good idea. College football has become a grind to these young men. They need a little time to themselves. This should pay off for SC in the fall IMHO.
Here is the rest of the skinny on potential missing players. Unfortunately, Stephan Sene is a long shot to return to the team. Not an impossibility ~ but a longshot. The appeal process is not going in his favor at this point. So, the football team will depend upon one or two of the newcomers to contribute to the depth chart on the offensive line. The good news is that Guminder (sp) Thind, the other big Canadian, will now be coming in during the summer rather than having to wait until next January ... so he will be able to contribute right away is the general train of thought. Add James Thompson and Justin Sorenson to the mix and there you have three kids big enough to play right away, all in need of plenty of summer work when they arrive and the opportunity to gain some early season experience right out of the chute. Evan Spanogians is another viable candidate for playing time this season. The other positive is that Fran Person is finally growing into his body, now over 270 pounds, and he is available and doing well working out as a center. William WEB Brown is a young man that has shown a lot of promise as well and everyone is looking for his light to come on this summer after a slow spring ... add these youngsters to the starters and experienced backups returning and everyone seems to feel okay with the depth of the offensive line. Thind's "earlier than expected arrival" is a major plus. Kris Mick's return is going to help quite a bit as well. The rumors generated by the other you know what about Woodley Telfort having academic problems ... again ... nothing but a lot of hog wash. People are outraged about the claims against some of our young athletes. Particularly the players and their parents. But that is what you get when you depend on rumors and gossip from students for your information.
On another note, I was wrong. I kept insisting that Syvelle Newton would have to see playing time at wide receiver this season. In my mind, (and based upon some of the talk from within), and given the fact that I was also saying SC would be undermanned at wide receiver, (a premise in which I have since been vindicated by Rick Stockstill's own comments), given that fact I just saw no way that Newton would ride the pine as a backup QB. I thought it would be a waste of his WR talent. Well, Newton is going to be a quarterback and he is going to receive a lot of playing time. He will not start early, and he may not earn the starter's job all season long, but he is going to receive playing time - enough to prepare him for the future. Syvelle is going to be worked into mental shape in an effort to cut down on his mental errors - it seems that's all he is lacking at the moment. His athletic skills are obviously there, he is perhaps the most athletic player on the team, almost without a doubt. So Syvelle Newton is going to be a full time quarterback and he is going to see a lot of playing time early and often this season. Meaning, Syvelle's days as a wide receiver are evidently over.
The chemistry on this football team is good as far as I am able to surmise. These players have come together, last year's distractions and questionable influences are gone. This year they have jelled early and now we will wait and see if this is a fragile chemistry or one that will strengthen with time. The incident with Boyd and the erroneous bad press may have actually served to bring them, the players, closer together. Many of the players came to Boyd's defense during the episode and that is a good sign when fellow teammates rally around one another in a time of need - when they feel one of their own has been wronged. Also, Boyd, Newton, and Ryan Brown are probably going to spend the summer living with Moe Thompson and his mother at their home in Columbia. I view this as a major positive knowing Trish and her personality. She will have a positive influence on everyone under her roof that all will benefit from during the offseason IMHO.
As near as I am able to tell, the last remaining question mark as far as incoming recruits are concerned is Antonio Lamar. He is cutting it close, the details are not important, but he is definitely cutting it close. Let's cross our fingers for Lamar because he is a fine talent and a good young man. He is trying hard. It's really out of his hands now as "the powers that be" down in Georgia attempt to sort out his transcripts and decide which classes apply and which do not. Once that happens then it has to be cleared through our people at USC and then through the NCAA Clearing House. We've been there before - this time it seems like a long shot to happen in SC's favor but time will tell.
Few realized this, but Brian Brownlee was the team MVP of the Clemson game. The honor was overshadowed and diluted by the beating the team took as Brownlee was having an outstanding game. Brian really came on late in the season and is being touted as a potential big time surprise for the coming year. But it is the 6-5, 275 Andy Boyd that has some people within the most excited. And when you add David Laggis to the mix ... we've said this before and we will say it again, this is an excellent group of Carolina tight ends this season. Pavlovic is way behind right now and not being counted on to contribute much this season at tight end.
Finally, where football is concerned, there is special team play for this season. We're looking good at deep snapper - deep snapping for both punts and FGs and PATs is handled. The Gamecocks feel good about their punter. They feel good about their kick-off man. Where there is still some concern, and where there will need to be major improvements made this summer, is field goal kicking and extra point kicking. No one is sure right who might emerge as the guy to handle those duties.
In basketball news Dave Odom is not saying it publically, but everyone is close to agreeing upon a new contract. And Dave is happy here, to the point where there are no worries of losing him. The reports that he was looking elsewhere were incorrect. He never was.
Landon Powell put on a hitting exhibition at Rosenblatt Thursday during batting practice that drew ooooos and ahhhhhs from the crowd. He hit a number of balls out of the park from both the left and right side of the plate.
I had a chance to visit with players and coaches earlier this week prior to their departure for Omaha, and they are quietly confident, moreso than in the past two years by far. If they can get that first win under their belt their chances to win it all escalate exponentially.
Matt Campbell will start for the Gamecocks Saturday. Coach Meyers said all he wants Campbell to do in the opener is remain composed and stay focused. He is not worried about Campbell's mechanics. All he wants Campbell to do is go out there relaxed and having fun. If Matt will do that then Coach Meyer likes our chances with Campbell on the mound in the opener. He added yesterday that Campbell has looked strong since arriving in Omaha. The entire team appears very comfortable within the CWS element this year.
Rooster Report: 18 June 2004
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