Oh, Steve, how far we've come.
The first time I had a chance to see you coach live was in 2001. November 10, 2001, to be exact.
You may or may not remember it. It was a pretty big game, at least in Carolina football fans' recent memory. I mean, for you, it turned out to be just one more of many blowouts against an SEC team that thought they stood a chance against you.
But hey, this one may stick out...you remember? Chris, Lee, and Kirk showed up? Oh yeah, and everyone wore black. In fact, you even joked that it was "real nice everyone wore black so our receivers could pick the ball out of the sky..."
Oh, Steve, it's those quips that made me absolutely despise you after that game. I'd never had much reason to hate you in the past...see, I grew up in Big 10-leven country and hadn't experienced a Spurrier-ass-whooping in person--let alone against a team I rooted for.
There are some things that you really need to experience to know exactly how bad they can feel. Take getting shot. Look, unless your name is Jason Borne or Chuck Norris, I'm sure it hurts. But I've never been shot, so I can't tell you on a scale of 1 to 10 how much it hurts exactly.
In terms of fan-related pain, that 54-17 loss to Spurrier's Gators was a 10 in my book. And I can't overexaggerate that. I left the game early--a first in my Gamecock fandom career. I couldn't stand to watch Florida's 3rd string score any more points. I kicked strangers' dogs on the way home from the game. I couldn't bring myself to go to class for a week--well, I mean, more than usual.
I vowed to hate Steve Spurrier for the rest of my life.
Funny how one sentence can change so much..."I'd like to introduce the next head football coach at the University of South Carolina, Steve Spurrier."
So when I say "vow," it's more of a guideline instead of a hardfast rule...that should go over well with my future wife.
In 20 days, I'll be riding a wave of high hopes and great expectations with the rest of Gamecock Nation. Hopes and expectations raised by a man I used to despise, and now have the utmost respect for.
Steve, on your first day on the job, you asked the rest of the country, "why not us?" On behalf of the believers of Gamecock Nation, we're behind you, and we're asking, "why not now?"