Forensic Football: Commitment Is Not The Issue

How quickly Gamecock fans forget. One mention of the 'C' word and suddenly everything can be fixed with more and better commitment. But commitment is not the issue for Carolina and it never really has been. It's time to accept reality for what it is ...

(To begin with, WELCOME BACK ROOSTER!)

Steve Spurrier said the 'C' word the other day in a post media event golf tournament. He said basically, that he was disappointed in the commitment being displayed, or lack thereof, by his returning upperclassmen. And the mainstream media ran wild.

"Gamecocks Lack Commitment," read one headline.

"Spurrier: South Carolina Has Commitment Problems," read another.

And still another read, "Spurrier Challenges Cocks To Commit."


If SOS really believes that one of his major problems lies with his players' level of commitment, then he is not the evil genius fans had hoped he was.

He is, afterall, now the head coach at the University of South Carolina.

For instance, take note of this quote.

"It's time to raise the bar, to give 100 percent. He knows how to win and he knows it's going to take a big commitment from all of us. We all have to pull in the same direction if we want to pull out of this and take it to the next level. We've got to give 100 percent commitment."

Post Spurrier commitment comments from a player on this year's team?


That was Arturo Freeman commenting on Lou Holtz's claims that his new team lacked commitment ... almost SIX YEARS AGO!

So when Fran Person was recently quoted as saying, "I think he's challenging the guys, ... look, he knows what it takes to win. Everybody's got to buy into that, everybody's got to go 100 percent. Until we buy in and go 100 percent, we won't win."

It was deja vous all over again. Same song, same verse.

When are Gamecock fans, their coaches and players, going to realize that commitment is not the issue?

What IS the issue is attitude - with a capital 'TUDE! That is the most important change needed in terms of team mentality within the University of South Carolina program, and it always has been. Whether Gamecock fans have an inferiority complex about their program that rubs off on their players, or whether the local media has, in the past, been complicit in propagating said complex among players and fans ... it is all relevant. It does exist.

Take stock in the fact that I typed "team mentality." That's an important caveat, because football, unlike most other sports, requires a team effort.

Great college baseball teams can thrive off of one or two outstanding pitchers and a great hitter and fielder or two. Often single players playing mulitiple roles. And the same is understood for great basketball teams. One great player can make a world of difference.

But in college football it is all about the team pulling in the same direction. And to win in the SEC it had better be a team oozing confidence in their ability to win - confident and sure of themselves and their knowledge that they have prepared both physically and mentally, and as well or better than their opponents. Positive that the person beside them in the trenches is going to pull his weight, else the machine breaks down and losses ensue.

Sadly, few Carolina Gamecock football teams have ever walked the walk of the Cock of the Walk. Few teams, save the 1969, 1980, 1984 or 1986 teams have ever had that swagger that goes with having a winning attitude. Even the 2000 and 2001 teams fed off of Lou Holtz's confidence, not their own save a few players such as Ryan Brewer and Phil Petty.

And that's where Spurrier used the wrong word to describe his problem. And that's where the mainstream media failed to call him on it when they should, because they've been around long enough to know better.

Spurrier was asked, on the day he was hired, whether or not his biggest task might not be changing the attitude of this program? His reply was simply, "Yeah, we're going to have to do some of that, but we're going to have to coach-them-up too. Make them strong and confident in their ability."

He got that right. Coaching-them-up means daring them to not be committed during the offseason. Daring them to not live up to their abilities. Kids lack commitment, that's a given. Youth is wasted on the young. "Coaching them up," includes instilling a level of commitment in them motivated by the fear of the consequences if they fail to meet the standards.

But rather than imply that the 'C' word is the first negative worth mentioning since his arrival, Spurrier should have said, 'This team lacks attitude. This program lacks attitude. Our fans lack attitude. Once we have that, then we've won half the war. Bringing in talent and coaching them up will win the other half.'

You should expect that from the man who typifies 'Tude like no other. If Steve Spurrier, Mr. Attitude himself, does not already understand that about the S.C. football tradition, then someone missed the boat.

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