A lot can change in nine months – and our excitement for football season has only grown since last fall.
The year’s first kickoff is just days away for the South Carolina Gamecocks – on Saturday, Sept. 2, against the N.C. State Wolfpack at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium. The first home game is Saturday, Sept. 16, against the Kentucky Wildcats.
To whet your whistle, here’s a look at some of the changes USC fans will find on and off the field this season.
Bluff Road beside the S.C. State Fairgrounds continues to undergo construction near Williams-Brice Stadium. The end result will be two driving lanes going in either direction, a center turn lane and a generously wide sidewalk on either side, running from Rosewood Drive to George Rogers Boulevard.
The popular Memorial Lot tailgating spot, just off Shop Road, is getting a few upgrades, including at least twice as many bathrooms as last year, a Chick-fil-A food cart nearby and a new entry policy to avoid a bottleneck of people trying to get into the lot.
USC’s new food vendor, Aramark, will take over concessions at Williams-Brice Stadium and will introduce some new menu items, USC associate athletics director Eric Nichols said. (Check out a sampling of USC and Clemson stadium food, page 17).
A new live DJ will liven up pre-game and in-game entertainment at the stadium. And live bands will play each week in the Gamecock Park tailgating area, Nichols said.
Expect more fireworks when the Gamecocks score and post-game. Because fireworks rock.
Justin King is taking hype videos to a new level in his new role in USC’s athletic department. Expect even more chill-inducing pre-game and in-game videos to pump up all 80,000-plus Gamecocks in the crowd.
Around the state
Here’s what fans from a few other South Carolina colleges have to look forward to this football season.
Walk tall like the national champion fans you are, wearing Nike’s new Clemson version of its Free Trainer V7 Week Zero shoe. The soles say “Death Valley.” If you like purple and orange, it’s a pretty sweet shoe.
A new quarterback, Nick Jones, will take the field on new turf, leading the team under new expectations. For the first time, the Wolves are predicted to finish first in the South Atlantic Conference.
S.C. STATE UNIVERSITY
New athletic director Stacy Danley, a former football standout at Auburn University, is bringing a new focus and passion to the football program. He’s a hands-on AD who attends football practices and “is trying to take us to the next level to be one of the top FCS schools,” spokesman Kendrick Lewis said.