Year of the Rooster?

First-year South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier doesn't believe in jinxes … but he'd like to believe in omens. He's inherited one of each in his new job.

The Gamecocks have a mediocre history on the gridiron that some fans jokingly blame on "The Chicken Curse." Spurrier finds such talk amusing. Florida had never won anything of note when he arrived there in 1990 but he can't recall the Gators blaming their long-standing woes on any sort of curse.

"We hadn't talked about that too much and I don't know if they said there was a curse on Florida," he said at the recent SEC Media Days. "What did we have at Florida? I don't know."

Whether the Gators had an official curse or not, the Gamecocks believe they have one. Spurrier isn't ready to embrace it, though.

"We don't believe in that too much," he said. "We saw where the Red Sox finally won (overcoming The Curse of the Bambino), so they got rid of their curse."

Instead of trying to negate a curse, Spurrier is hoping to reverse a trend by winning a big game. Carolina has never quite managed to get a signature win that vaulted the ‘Cocks into big-time status. Conversely, Spurrier vividly remembers the game that got Florida over the hump.

"We beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa the second game I coached at Florida," he recalled. "Whatever black cloud hovered over Gator football was blown away that day because we won a big game when we didn't play very well."

Spurrier hopes a similar watershed victory awaits his 2005 Gamecocks.

"I'm hoping we have a game with a strong opponent, that we don't play very well but something happens -- we hang in there and block a punt or whatever -- and maybe win the game," he said. "If that happens, then all those curses and black clouds and jinxes hopefully will be knocked away."

Spurrier's disdain for "The Chicken Curse" is matched only by his fascination with "The Year of the Rooster." He's done his homework on the subject, which is part of Chinese lore.

The only title South Carolina has won in football was an Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 1969. The Gamecocks went 6-0 in the league that year and earned a bid to the Peach Bowl.

"Sixty-nine was a Rooster Year," Spurrier noted, "and that was the year we won our only championship."

The Chinese observe the Year of the Rooster every 12 years, and 2005 just happens to be one. Spurrier couldn't resist sharing this tidbit at Media Days.

"Two thousand five is the Year of the Rooster, so don't bet too much against the Gamecocks," he quipped, "even though we're underdogs. We've got the rooster on our side. We've got that going for us right now."


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