Looking For Mr. Good Rooster

He disappeared, without a word, and the rumors began to swirl. He would not answer phone calls or emails. Written letters sent via snail mail went unanswered. Then one day, by chance, I stumbled across him and with his permission began a series of interviews that explained so many things. We have finally received permission to publish them. You may be surprised at what you will learn in the process ...

I first met Rooster (Russ Perry) in 1995. He was at the time, the Chapter President of the largest online Gamecock club charted in the country. As a matter of fact it was the only online community established strictly for South Carolina Gamecock fans.

That was late winter/early spring 1995. February I think. Russ had applied for and received the charter to build the club from online sports powerhouse "Real Fans," who was working exclusively through AOL at the time. AOL was practically the only game in town and they were huge considering the budding phase of the Internet in those days.

Russ had taken to it like a fish in water. He was a computer guy and Gamecock fan and there was definitely a need to establish a place for SC fans on the Internet to interact. By this time schools such as Auburn, Alabama and Florida already had massive boards where thousands of their fans participated daily with cyber chatter about their favorite teams. The Real Fans forums were the leaders and the forerunners of today's big independent online sports networks. Then, as today, the message boards fueled traffic. Content was sparse and usually amateurish at best.

That's where I came in. Russ had seen some of my work on the Access Atlanta, AJC web site, (A site he would later contribute to in his own right.), and he approached me to consider switching sides.

I did.

It was not because I wasn't happy as a contributor to the AJC site. It was more because I could not help but become excited about writing for an online group that might appreciate my take on the SC program that I considered to be a sleeping giant then, as I still do today. And Russ' enthusiasm was infectious.

That is how I met him. Getting to know him I was impressed with the depth of his knowledge about all things Gamecock. He had insider information at the time that left others in awe. During visits to his home at the time, it was not uncommon to hear him field calls from some of the bigger recruiting gurus of the day. And those were the days when recruiting magazines ruled.

He always talked-up the Gamecocks' efforts.

Almost ten years. Day and night, 24/7 365, he was there for us. Then, suddenly and without warning, Rooster disappears.

Rumors began to swirl. His health was deteriorating. He had lost his contacts. He was in a mental institution. Divorce. Jail. Overseas. Iraq, Afghanistan, Timbuktu. He had been shot by an angry husband. Run over by a tractor. Bitten by rabid dogs. He had gotten into a fist fight with several Clemson fans at a bar and had been badly beaten and cut to pieces. He had been badly burned in a house fire and rendered hideous, only able to speak during his weekly spots on Sports Talk.

We heard them all.

Then, one day I decided to begin a manhunt. I started that day in the pressbox at Sarge Frye asking if anyone had seen The Rooster. Surprisingly enough, several had. He had passed through earlier and was thought to be somewhere in the stadium. So I walked the rows of fans until I spotted his familiar straw golfing hat and I sat down beside him.

He had aged since I had last seen him in October. He was graying and worn, dark circles under his eyes and a tired look on his face, but he smiled and seemed glad to see me and with that the conversation got underway.

I told him that people were wondering what happened to him. That rumors were flying and that many were concerned. With that I asked him if he would mind me interviewing him in an effort to put things into perspective. He said I could give it a try as long as he had the final say-so about whether the final outcome was worthy for the site's fans or not.

The interview has continued for three months off and on, and during that time I was so captivated at times as to what happened and the reasons for his 'break from the action' as he calls it, that I simply let him talk.

In the end I believe it was good therapy for him. His return to the boards on August 1, 2005 is highly anticipated by those who are aware of the plans that have been set in motion. And in the meantime, the interview explains all. From issues he had with the way things were being handled within the program at the time to issues he had with having to deal with thousands of fans who at times left him no room to function as a normal human being, father and husband.

You will be left shaking your head at everything from insider discussions, to recruiting, to network negotiations, to parental involvement, to what really happened during this whole NCAA investigation.

The interview will be published to this site in stages. I have broken it down to different locations where the interview took place. I hope it will serve to open your eyes as widely as mine have been opened.

In addition, writers for this site have returned home and we will be offering loads of information beginning today, as the Spurrier Era officially begins at The University of South Carolina.

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