A crappy start to the 2010 SEC season

You know how it feels when you drive out of a carwash and a bird poops on your shiny, clean windshield?

Well, that’s what of the start of the 2010 football season feels like right now – and the comparison is especially apt for Gamecocks fans. Our shiny, clean season is already riddled with, well, chicken poop, thanks to NCAA investigations that may turn out to be game-changers in the SEC East.

With just days to go before the Thursday night season-opener against Southern Mississippi, starting tight end Weslye Saunders is out of the picture for awhile. Coach Steve Spurrier – he of the clenched jaw and many visors – suspended Saunders for violating team rules.

Word is that Saunders was suspended for lying about why he was late to practice, but the 6-foot-6 senior is plagued by additional woes: The NCAA is investigating him – along with players from the University of Alabama, the University of North Carolina and the University of Georgia – to determine exactly who paid for a high-dollar trip to Miami Beach in May.

Another day, another scandal
Saunders is also implicated in another scandal – one that puts the status of up to six South Carolina starters in question. At issue is whether the players received special, super-low rates for months-long stays at Columbia, South Carolina’s Whitney Hotel.

Last week, Spurrier told the players to settle their bills and move out, but the damage may already have been done. Spurrier said the NCAA typically suspends players for this type of infraction for a couple of games – and the veteran coach also said that Carolina wouldn’t protest any penalties that are handed down.

So, what does this mean for my beloved Gamecocks? Well, it may mean we’re way behind before the season even gets started. Or (cue the scary organ music), it may mean that the dreaded Chicken Curse has struck again.

The Chicken Curse strikes again?
For those of you who need a reminder, the Chicken Curse has tormented Carolina fans for generations. No matter how good the coach, how good the team, how good the start of the season, we have trouble sealing the victory deal. We’re the champions of the mid-season skid and last-second loss.

The Chicken Curse seemed broken June 29 when the USC baseball team won its first College World Series, sweeping the UCLA Bruins to win its first major title. It was only the school’s second national championship (the other was in women’s track).

Now, it appears the Chicken Curse has struck again, this time in the form of player stupidity. I’d like to be as optimistic as my good friend Marsha Maxey, who is blithely unconcerned about possible penalties.

“I’m completely ignoring all reality and scandal, expecting SEC and national championships,” Marsha says.

As for me, I’m calling it this way in the SEC East: Florida, Georgia and then South Carolina. And now I’m out of here. I have a windshield that needs cleaning.



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