Forgive the trip back to ancient history, but South Carolina’s 13-10 win over Vanderbilt got me to thinking back to 2001. It was Mark Richt’s first season as the head coach at Georgia (the team I covered at the time), and the Bulldogs were playing Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn. Georgia was just two weeks removed from a 14-9 loss to South Carolina, and the Volunteers were ranked No. 6 in the country.
The Bulldogs mounted a last-minute touchdown drive to win 26-24. (If you’ve ever heard former Georgia announcer Larry Munson’s hob-nailed boot call, it’s from that game.) Richt talked the rest of that season and throughout his 15-year career at Georgia about the importance of that game. It sounded a little like what Will Muschamp is saying this week after winning his first game in come-from-behind fashion on the road.
“Anytime you have positive results, it makes it much easier to believe, have some belief in what you’re trying to do,” Muschamp said. “You’ve got to have some positive feedback, regardless of whether it’s football, the business world or whatever you’re doing. In our profession, the result of winning is what we look for. You’ve got to be able to see the fruits of your labor.”
It’s dangerous to ever read too much into a win over Vanderbilt. It’s still Vanderbilt after all, but it’s also silly to dismiss the importance of winning the first game for the Gamecocks (who are coming off a 3-9 season) and for Muschamp (who is coming off being fired at Florida). For an illustration of that importance, just imagine if South Carolina had lost the game.
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“It’s all about winning. The fun’s in winning,” senior linebacker T.J. Holloman said. “I think it’s been a complete buy-in. The results are showing. Winning is all we really want. As long as we’re winning, everyone is going to keep buying in.”