I have never really put much stock in college football polls. They are voted on by sportswriters and coaches from all over the country, which means voting is regionally biased and often political. I will have to say, however, that the AP and the Coaches got it right in voting South Carolina the No. 4 team in the nation in its final polls.
It was a decision based on USC's body of work for the season. The Gamecocks were 11-2 overall, beat six teams that were bowl winners, including BCS teams Clemson and UCF, and finished with a convincing win over Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl.
There are at least two benefits from this highest-in-school-history ranking. First, it keeps Carolina in the “elite program” conversation. To move from No. 8 last year to No. 4 this year, and the three-straight 11-win seasons are signs of consistency and upward mobility, images you want prospects to have in their minds.
And that might be the biggest benefit of all for Coach Steve Spurrier's program -- the ability to keep recruiting on an upper-tier level. Trust me, teenagers have very short memories, and the only memory they have of the Gamecocks in their four years of high school is winning.
When a coach takes over a program, there is a sense of desperation to land recruits that can immediately help turn things around and prospects pick up on that sense of urgency. Because of his reputation, Coach Spurrier didn't have to do any begging when he took over the USC program. However, he and his assistants did have to build relationships with high school coaches and players, and they did have to show that they could make the Gamecocks winners and produce an atmosphere that players are drawn to.
That's another byproduct of winning – young men from a lot of different places, from a lot of different backgrounds, learn to work together, trust one another, depend on one another and eventually love one another like brothers. I'm not saying this kind of bonding doesn't happen to losing teams, but when all the hard work and dedication leads to success, it makes the journey that much sweeter.
I know I say it ad nauseam, but having one of the greatest head coaches in the history of the game, a good, hard-working and dedicated group of assistant coaches, and the highest character, most-talented young men ever in the program, add up to a program every Gamecock fan can be proud of. Trust me on this, the best is yet to come!
It's a great time to be a Gamecock!