Archive for the ‘South Carolina’ category


September 9, 2009

It’s funny how the physical objects around us can get us to thinking.

Now that another college football season is upon us, I splurged on a University of South Carolina baseball cap to show my team loyalty. This is the one I chose:

I’ve cheered for Carolina teams since I was a boy, long before I did my graduate work there (and far too often been poorly rewarded for my loyalty, but that’s another story). Hope springs eternal in the Gamecock fan’s breast however. This might just be the year the football team or the basketball team or the baseball team or the women’s track and field team or somebody does great things.

When the cap arrived yesterday I wore it with great pride, but it reminded me that I had a similar one for Auburn University, my Dad’s alma mater, a cap very much like this one:

Towards the end of his life, I noticed that Dad had taken to wearing a baseball cap whenever he drove to keep the sun out of his eyes. He was wearing a generic baseball cap he’d gotten from somewhere (the USC bookstore if I remember correctly). Two Christmases before he died of cancer, I gave him an Auburn cap. He smiled and thanked me. Later I learned that he wore it whenever he drove until he was no longer able to drive. After Dad’s funeral, my brother Allen asked me if I would like to have the cap and I have kept it ever since.

Dad was never a big sports fan. Normally he paid very little attention to Auburn athletics—until perhaps the annual weekend that Auburn played Alabama. When I rediscovered the cap, however, I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I found Auburn’s fight song on the internet and have been listening to it almost compulsively. I’ll keep an eye on how the Auburn Tigers (Clemson Tigers = BAD! Auburn Tigers = GOOD!) do this year, even as I’m cheering on my Gamecocks. And should Auburn triumph over Alabama, you will hear a rousing cry of WAAAAAAR EAGLE!” from this direction.

Miss you, Dad.


Too Large To Be An Insane Asylum

June 27, 2009

On hearing that his native state had seceded from the Union in December 1860, James L. Petigru, a unionist and opponent of secession quipped, “South Carolina is to small to be a republic and too large to be an insane asylum.”

I thought of that remark a couple of days ago as I got up early to take some medicine and switched on one of the morning news shows. The show gleefully led off with the latest on l’affaire Sanford, the fallout from Gov. Mark Sanford’s tearful public admission that he went AWOL from the state capital for a week in order to fly to Argentina for a tryst with his as yet unidentified paramour. The same show included a report on a South Carolina mother who has been charged with abuse and neglect for allowing her teenage son to grow to a gargantuan weight of 550 lbs.

The hosts of this program, who seemed more like gossip columnists than news reporters, interviewed the mother, and I must say, she didn’t exactly sound like the brightest bulb on the sign, so it’s easy to imagine how that unfortunate situation might have occurred. The Sanford episode, however, boggles the mind. I have to say this in my best Dr. Phil voice: What was he thinking? Did he honestly believe that it would somehow be OK if he sneaked off for a week of extracurricular extramarital activity without telling anyone his true whereabouts? Did he force his staff to put out the cover story that he was stressed out and had gone hiking along the Appalachian Trail, or did they concoct that one themselves?

So far, Gov. Sanford has indicated that he will not resign as governor, but the more I think about it, the more I believe he should. He says he wants to devote his remaining months in office to rebuilding the trust of the people of the state. I think, however the best way he can do that is to voluntarily surrender his office. It would demonstrate that he understands that actions have consequences. It would also remove him from many situations in which he might be tempted to make a similar monumental error in judgment that would have damaging consequences not only for him, but for the whole state. Finally, I think it would allow him to focus his time and energy on rebuilding his relationship with his wife and children, which, if I were in his shoes, would be my first priority.

I love the state of South Carolina. I was born in Georgia, but I’ve lived here since I was an infant. It’s my home. When stuff like this happens, however, I just have to shake my head and wish I were from somewhere else. South Carolina may be too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum, but I’m afraid it’s just the right size for a national embarrassment.

From the IAS Sports Department . . .

December 30, 2006

This just in from the Sports Department here at It’s All Straw:

University of South Carolina 44

University of Houston 36

Get details here!

Meanwhile . . .

University of Kentucky 28

Clemson University 20

Get details here!

Tough break, Creegs!

GAME! . . . COCKS! . . . GAME! . . . COCKS!

December 2, 2006

It occurs to me that I have been remiss in my blogging duties. I reported on Auburn’s fifth consecutive triumph over their perennial foes Alabama, but I failed to announce the victory of my own beloved South Carolina Gamecocks over their detested arch rivals, the Clemson Tigers, by a score of 31-28. Better late than never. The title of this post is an effort to reproduce in print a neat little auditory effect you’ll hear at home games. One side of the stadium yells “GAME!” The other yells “COCKS!” The stereophonic effect has been known to discombobulate opposing teams.

It wasn’t just a game, it was a cardiovascular workout, with highs and lows and plenty of heart-stopping moments for fans. Too often, the Gamecocks come out looking like college football’s equivalent of the Chicago Cubs, a bunch of lovable losers that you just can’t help cheering for no matter how often they break your heart. Carolina fans celebrate every victory they can get, especially over Clemson. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in nearly 40 years of pulling for South Carolina, it’s to keep your expectations low. For example, right before half time, Carolina, down 14-7, was driving on the Clemson goal. USC quarterback Blake Mitchell dropped back to pass, but a Clemson defender got in his face, deflected the ball, and ran the other way for a Clemson touchdown. I thought we were doomed.

At one point in the third quarter Carolina trailed 28-14. Again, I thought we were doomed, but miracle of miracles, the Gamecocks rallied, using stiff defense and taking advantage of Clemson turnovers to actually go ahead 31-28 late in the game. Clemson, of course, promptly got the ball and drove down the field, lining up for a field goal that would have tied the game and sent it into overtime, where in all likelihood Clemson would win. Would Carolina’s miracle slip away? I’d seen it happen before.

On the last play of the game, Clemson lined up for a field goal . . . and missed! Carolina beat Clemson! Could life get any sweeter? As a result of this titanic victory, the Gamecocks will now have the opportunity to play in the Totally Meaningless Media Event & Marketing Opportunity Bowl, or some such. Not so many years ago, there were only a few major college bowl games–Rose, Cotton, Sugar, Orange–and each one had a share in determining college football’s national championship. In short, they meant something. Now, however, there are so many of these postseason extravaganzas that just about any team that wins more than half its games can go to one of these artificial hoopty-dos. Oh, well. We’ll take it.

As an interesting side note, Auburn, whom I love for Dad’s sake, and Clemson, whom I detest . . . well, just because they’re Clemson :)–have many similarities. Both are the land grant colleges and agricultural and mechanical schools for their respective states. Both claim the Tigers as their mascots (I think Auburn’s battle cry of “War Eagle!” originated during World War II when the school was used as a training facility for combat pilots

[UPDATE, 2009: Since this was originally posted, I have learned that there are many possible explanations for the origin of the phrase “War Eagle!” none of which can be verified].

Both schools use orange as one of their team colors. (Auburn uses orange and blue, Clemson, orange and white). But you see, because my Dad went to Auburn, Auburn Tigers are fine, hardworking, upstanding, God-fearing sons and daughters of the soil who labor diligently by the sweat of their brows to make the world a better place. Because nearly everybody else in my family went to Carolina (one of my sisters pulls for Clemson just to be contrary, but we love her anyway), Clemson Tigers are backward, ignorant, uncouth, unlettered rednecks and the source of all evil in the world :-). (JUST KIDDING!) 🙂

In conclusion, I’d like to recall the words of our late beloved Pope John Paul II when he visited the USC campus several years ago. The Holy Father was addressing a group of students on the Horseshoe, the historic heart of the campus, when he departed from his prepared text and said:

“It is wonderful to be young.”

(This was greeted with a scattering of applause).

“It is wonderful to be young and a student at a university.”

(More applause)

“It is wonderful to be young and a student at the University of South Carolina.”


I’ve always figured this was a dignified way for the Servant of the Servants of God, the Vicar of Christ, the Successor of Peter, the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church to say: