Count Ray Tanner among those who have no problem with the South Carolina football team’s trip to the Capital One Bowl. Upon arriving Thursday in Orlando, Tanner already was formulating an off-field game plan.
“I have never been to Disney World. Never,” Tanner said.
Of course, when you’re busy coaching national championship-winning baseball teams, it can be hard to carve out time. But when you’re an athletics director in charge of a football program that earns a visit to the home of theme parks, it becomes a whole lot more convenient.
Tanner’s wife, Karen, is directing this show as the family begins to explore a few of the world’s biggest tourist attractions.
“My wife will be the coordinator. She’ll be the offensive and defensive coordinator for the theme parks, but I’ve got to go,” he said.
With the Renaissance Orlando Resort, where the team is staying, close to so many entertainment venues, Tanner was ready to get after it.
“Our hotel faces SeaWorld. We almost bolted across the street today,” he said.
Instead, the Tanner family visited Disney World on Friday morning to start their activities. He was more than happy the Capital One Bowl wanted the Gamecocks to come back again.
“I know it’s not a BCS bowl game, but it’s hard to beat this destination,” he said.
This will be South Carolina’s 19th bowl appearance. The Gamecocks have posted a 6-12 record, although they own a two-game winning streak in bowl games. Coach Steve Spurrier has taken the team to a bowl game in eight of his nine seasons guiding the program. He has posted a 4-4 record in those games.
USC lost its first eight bowl games in appearances that stretched from the 1945 season to the 1988 season. The first breakthrough win came under first-year coach Brad Scott in the CarQuest Bowl, a 24-21 victory against West Virginia, to cap the 1994 season. That started a stretch in which the program has won six of its past 10 bowl games.
11 a.m. – South Carolina team practice, Celebration High, Kissimmee
11:15 a.m. – Wisconsin team practice, Freedom High, Orlando
3 p.m. – The USC players will visit Universal Studios Orlando.
“We try to use the running game every game. Some games it doesn’t go very far, so we have to try something else. But (sophomore tailback) Mike Davis has had an excellent year. He’s been pretty quiet the last three games. He had a little bit of an injury for the Coastal Carolina game, so we didn’t play him then. But the other games he just didn’t have much room to run. We’ve still got to block somebody. Our blocking has been a little suspect a few times lately. But, hopefully, we can create some running lanes for him in this game.” – USC coach Steve Spurrier on the need for a ground attack against Wisconsin
Compiled by Neil White and Josh Kendall