By Rixon Lane
In case you missed it over the weekend, some college football pundits were slightly confused by Clemson’s “storming the field” after a six-point win over unranked Louisville.
Unbeknownst to some, gathering on the field after a game is a tradition at Clemson and the Tiger faithful were not actually rushing to celebrate in the same manner you would after knocking off a top-ranked team.
Therefore, in order to prevent any such confusion for South Carolina, here’s a quick guide to Gamecock football traditions. All ESPN employees should feel free to print this and keep it in your wallet at all times.
2001: A Space Odyssey
“Also Sprach Zarathustra” was used in the 1968 movie, “2001: A Space Odyssey” and was later the introduction music at Elvis Presley concerts. After hearing Pressley several times in concert, former Gamecock quarterback Tommy Suggs took the idea of using the song to bring the team onto the field to head coach Jim Carlen in 1981. Carlen wanted the band to play the music on the field, which they did for two games during the 1981 season. Carlen left after the year, but athletics director Bob Marcum liked the idea.
Instead of using the theme for 1982, Marcum decided to wait until 1983, when Williams-Brice Stadium’s new sound system would be installed. As it turned out, 1983 was the first season in Columbia for head coach Joe Morrison. “2001” was played over the loudspeakers for South Carolina’s home opener against North Carolina and it’s been used for every home game since.
South Carolina didn’t always win the games on the field, but fans made sure they never lost the tailgate. In 1990, the same year that the Gamecocks accepted an invitation to join the Southeastern Conference, a Columbia real estate developer named Ed Robinson purchased 22 cabooses and a railroad spur and placed them next to Williams-Brice Stadium. The cabooses have stayed for 24 years and provide fans with the best tailgate in Columbia, as well as air-conditioning for those muggy September kickoffs.
When South Carolina’s football program began in 1892, the student body voted on the colors of garnet and black and the team nickname “Jaguars.” In 1902, after a 12-6 victory over Clemson on “Big Thursday,” a Columbia merchant put a large painting of a Gamecock sitting atop a pitiful-looking Tiger. South Carolina students took the picture and paraded it around campus and the state fairgrounds. Clemson cadets took offense to the painting and a nearly rioted with South Carolina students.
Cadets marched to the gates of the Horseshoe with bayonets, while students took up firearms and barricaded themselves behind the gates. The battle was averted when South Carolina assistant coach Christie Benet arrived on the scene and offered to fight any cadet. Eventually, a compromise was reached and the painting was burned. The rivalry game would not be played again until 1909. In the aftermath of the incident, the football team abandoned the “Jaguars” moniker and the team has been known as the “Gamecocks” ever since.