16 for '16: Goals for the Gamecocks

It's an exciting time to be a sports fan in Columbia. 

South Carolina enters the calendar year with momentum throughout the athletic department, from a hot start in basketball to a new era in football. 

With 2016 just five days old, here are 16 goals for the Gamecocks in the coming year:

1. 5-plus wins in football

Will Muschamp has recruited like his hair's on fire since arriving in Columbia, but the Gamecocks will still have rebuilding to do on the field. Losing Pharoh Cooper will hurt and South Carolina has plenty of question marks entering the 2016 campaign. A bowl game may not be probable, but five wins would show a program that is bouncing back. 

2. Final Four appearance in women's basketball

South Carolina hasn't been quite as dominant as they were last season, but Dawn Staley's squad is every bit as talented as the team that came mere seconds from playing for a national championship. Fans should expect this team to be in Indianapolis for the Final Four. You can bet that Staley will accept nothing less.

3. NCAA Tournament bid in baseball

When you are one of the top programs in the sport, you have to make the NCAA Tournament. South Carolina sat home last postseason and Chad Holbrook can not afford another spring with no NCAA Tournament games. The Gamecocks must find a way to get on the "Road to Omaha" in 2016.

4. Winning home record for beach volleyball

The beach volleyball team jumped from 5-12 in its inaugural season to 14-7 last year. The Gamecocks were 6-3 at home and hold a 9-5 all-time record in Columbia. South Carolina must protect the newly named "Wheeler Beach" if it hopes to continue to rise as a program.

5. NCAA Tournament bid in men's basketball

Frank Martin's team is off to the program's best start since World War I and the Gamecocks find themselves with their highest national ranking in 18 years. South Carolina hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 2004, but the dance is in reach this season. SEC play will determine whether Columbia comes down with March Madness.

6. NCAA Tournament win in women's soccer

South Carolina has made the NCAA Tournament eight of the last nine years, but the Gamecocks were eliminated in the first round by UNC Wilmington at home last season. Shelley Smith has built a solid program in Columbia and, after advancing to the Elite Eight in 2014, South Carolina should be primed to make another run in 2016.

7. Conference USA championship appearance in men's soccer

Men's soccer has not advanced to the Conference USA championship game since 2010. South Carolina's record in the C-USA tournament over the past five seasons is 2-4. With the Gamecocks coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance, now is the time to take a step up in the league and make the conference title match. 

8. 40 wins in softball

Beverly Smith has quietly done a phenomenal building job with Gamecock softball. Taking over an 11-40 team in 2011, Smith has led South Carolina to three consecutive NCAA appearances. With momentum on their side, this is the season for the Gamecocks to reach 40 wins for the first time since 2003. 

9. Top-10 finish in NCAAs for men's golf

South Carolina has made three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Championships in men's golf, finishing as high as ninth in 2014. A top-10 finish this season would mark another strong step for Bill McDonald's program.

10. Top-20 finish at Southeast Regional for cross country

After finishing in the top-20 at the Southeast Regionals from 2009-14, the Gamecocks stumbled last season, winding up 26th in a field of 39 teams. Curtis Frye is one of the nation's elite coaches and should be able to get the women back into the top 20 of the region with a chance for the NCAAs. 

11. .500+ record in men's tennis

South Carolina put together a very strong fall season in men's tennis. The Gamecocks now need to carry that momentum into 2016. After going 15-15 last season, Josh Goffi's squad should have its sights set on a winning record this year.

12. Two conference wins for equestrian

Believe it or not, the Gamecocks have struggled in the first half of the equestrian season. Entering the campaign with a No. 2 national ranking, South Carolina lost five consecutive matches to end 2015. At 0-3 in conference competition, the Gamecocks need to get back on track and wins over top-notch programs such as Georgia, Texas A&M and Auburn would be huge. 

13. Nine SEC wins for volleyball

Scott Swanson's program has garnered 13 conference wins over the last two seasons. Now, the Gamecocks should set their eyes on a .500 record in league play. South Carolina hasn't won nine conference matches since 2008, but the Gamecocks went 7-11 in the SEC last year with four losses coming in five-set contests. 

14. NCAA Championship appearance for women's golf

The Gamecocks have played in six consecutive NCAA Championships in women's golf, but South Carolina will have to improve in 2016 if they want to make it seven. The Gamecocks haven't finished in the top-five of any tournament in the fall of 2015. However, history says it would be unwise to bet against Kalen Anderson's team.

15. 80,000+ average attendance for football

South Carolina averaged over 80,000 fans at home football games from 2012-14, but the 2015 campaign saw that number dip to 78,822. With the excitement of a new coaching staff and home games against SEC East rivals Georgia and Tennessee next season, Gamecock fans should be back in Williams-Brice to witness the new era of South Carolina football.

16. Sell out the Colonial Life Arena for women's basketball

There is no reason for this not to happen in the next three months. South Carolina has never had a sellout for women's basketball, but the Gamecocks lead the nation in attendance and have one of the most talented teams in America. With opponents such as Kentucky and UConn coming to the CLA in 2016, the Gamecocks should have zero problems filling the 18,000-seat arena.