All Hope Lost
Hope left the South Carolina football program along with Steve Spurrier back in the midst of the horrid 2015 season. Apart from one good season in 1984, nothing remarkable had ever come out of USC. Mediocrity had been the norm until he coached the Gamecocks to a division title. The Head Ball Coach followed that season up with three consecutive eleven win seasons. However, a season and a half after Carolina finished 2013 ranked fourth in the country, Spurrier departed and took hope with him.
“I grew up during four of the best five years of USC football,” my twenty-year old self thought. Even though the program had taken on a downhill direction, I knew the school would not fire Spurrier. Spurrier had been bigger than the USC football program itself.
Although not at all unhappy with the Muschamp hire, I wasn’t especially thrilled initially. His mediocre record in Gainesville concerned me. I saw the same trends continuing into the season with deplorable offensive output. Then, midway through last season, Jake Bentley happened. At last, Will Muschamp had found his missing link: a quarterback who fit the puzzle piece in his offensive scheme. The impressive victories over Tennessee and Missouri gave me a dose of hope. However, Carolina seemed to have two teams last season: a competitive home team and a weak, inconsistent away team. Horrid losses at Florida and Clemson put an edge on joy.
A long offseason later, Carolina seems to have mitigated the issue of poor play on the road. In spite of playing away from home for two games, USC remains undefeated. Hope hasn’t been this high in Columbia since before the 2014 season. No team on the schedule seems scary anymore. Hope for the feature has rekindled in Gamecock Country. With talking heads now mentioning USC as a dark horse for the East, this team itself is the only thing holding it back.