"Dog Days" Behind Us

Here are some notes to ponder as we all await the players reporting to camp.

Spurrier just gets better …

For Steve Spurrier, the 2006 season will be his 17th as a Division I head coach and the 'Head Ball Coach' is 15-1 in season openers. Ironically, the only blemish on that mark is a 27-21 setback to South Carolina in 1989 at Williams-Brice Stadium that kicked off Spurirer's final year at Duke, which culminated in an 8-4 record and Atlantic Coast Conference championship. Take away his opening campaign (1987, 5-6) in Durham and every Spurrier coached college football team has won at least seven games each season. In fact, only his 1988 Blue Devils squad which finished 7-3-1 and his inaugural season at South Carolina (7-5) did a Spurrier led group fail to win at least eight games. I guess that explains his astounding 149-45-2 (.765) record in college football. In my opinion, what he did at USC last year has to go down as one of the best coaching jobs I've ever witnessed, because he willed the '05 squad – depleted in personnel for so many reasons – to a tremendous year by USC standards.

Another national TV audience ...

For the second-straight year a national television audience, courtesy of ESPN, will be on hand to witness Coach Steve Spurrier's opening act. Last year, USC built up a 21-3 advantage through three quarters against Central Florida before settling on a 24-15 victory.

August here we come ...

USC has kicked off its football season in the eighth month of the Gregorian Calendar four times and the Gamecocks have compiled a 3-1 record in those contests held at Williams-Brice Stadium. A date with the Bulldogs in Starkville, Miss., will be South Carolina's first away game in the opening month of the college football season:

• 1985 vs. The Citadel, 56-17 W • 1986 vs. Miami, 14-34 L • 2002 vs. New Mexico State, 34-24 W • 2003 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, 14-7 W

League opener vs. West Division opponent ...

This year marks the sixth time a season-opening game will take place versus a league foe since South Carolina joined the Southeastern Conference for football in 1992. However, this will be the first time that it is an opponent from the West Division:

• 1992 vs. Georgia, 6-28 L • 1993 @ Georgia, 23-21 W • 1994 vs. Georgia, 21-24 L • 1995 @ Georgia, 23-42 L • 2004 @ Vanderbilt, 31-6 W

USC owns a 15-26-1 (.369) record vs. SEC West Division teams since ‘92: Alabama (3-3); Arkansas (6-8); Auburn (0-3); LSU (1-2-1); Ole Miss (0-4); and MSU (5-6).

Clanging cowbells …

No doubt those fans of the maroon and white will be in full force at Davis Wade Stadium five weeks from now as Sylvester Croom's third edition of MSU football takes center stage at Scott Field. And you can bet that they will have the cowbells in full tow as Mississippi State tries to reverse its rough football fortune of recent years. MSU has suffered five consecutive losing seasons and has won no more than three games in any of those campaigns, including last year's 3-8 mark. Though the Bulldogs hold a 6-5 advantage in a series that was played every season from 1992-2002, South Carolina has won the past three meetings, including a 16-14 victory at Starkville in the first college football game played after the infamous 9/11 date in 2001. USC owns a 2-3 record at Scott Field.

Know your foe …

• Did you realize that Clemson University was modeled after Mississippi State A&M – now MSU? Well it's true and was so decreed by CU founder Thomas Green Clemson in his will of 1888.

• If you have visited Oxford, MS, home of Ole Miss and the arch-rival of MSU, then you probably ran across a Little League baseball park just off the highway. That ballpark sits on the land of renowned fiction writer John Grisham, who earned his Juris Doctor degree at the University of Mississippi School of Law. But, Grisham earned his undergraduate degree in accounting from MSU and the ballpark in Oxford is a scaled-down replica of Starkville's famous Dudy Noble Field.

• Do you need to laugh? Well, one of the South's most prominent comedians played football at MSU. That's right, longtime Grand Ole Opry member Jerry Clower was a Bulldog in the late 1940s and was a native of Liberty, MS.

SEC boasts six programs in Top 20 of All-Time …

Division I-A All-Time Winning Percentage .712, #4 Alabama (774-301-43) .697, #9 Tennessee (752-312-53) .642, #13 Georgia (693-375-54) .636, #16 Louisiana State (670-374-47) .627, #18 Auburn (657-382-47) .618, #19 Florida (606-367-40) .590, #35 Arkansas (626-428-40) .569, #46 Mississippi (590-443-35) .505, #84 Vanderbilt (538-526-50) .500, #86 Kentucky (537-536-44) .493, #89 SOUTH CAROLINA (502-517-44) .483, #100 Mississippi State (470-505-39)

SEC Titles (1992-2005) 5 - Florida 2 - Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana State, Tennessee 1 - Auburn 0 - Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Mississippi State, SOUTH CAROLINA, Vanderbilt

SEC East Division Titles (1992-2005) 7 - Florida 4 - Tennessee 3 - Georgia 0 - Kentucky, SOUTH CAROLINA, Vanderbilt

SEC West Division Titles (1992-2005) 5 - Alabama 3 - Auburn, Louisiana State 2 - Arkansas 1 - Mississippi State 0 - Mississippi

Most 10+ Win Seasons 28 - Alabama 19 - Tennessee 16 - Georgia 10 - Auburn 9 - Arkansas, Florida 8 - Louisiana State 6 - Mississippi 2 - Kentucky, Mississippi State 1 - SOUTH CAROLINA 0 - Vanderbilt

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