Because I’ve always wanted to be a . . . Fighting Artichoke

As a University of South Carolina graduate, I’m often asked two questions:

1. What’s it like to watch your football team lose, year after year?

2. Why don’t y’all change that awful Gamecock mascot?

First of all, it’s true: We haven’t won a conference championship since 1969, when we were part of the ACC and coached by the legendary Paul Dietzel. And, OK, our bowl record is an abysmal 4-10. But — and here’s the rub — all of that losing makes Gamecock fans cherish success. It makes our victories sweeter and unites us in hope. We’re kind of like the Boston Red Sox Nation — we know our time will come and the long wait will make us appreciate it even more.

Second: our mascot. The Gamecock. Some people think it’s a lousy mascot. Personally, I think it’s awesome. We’re feisty, we’re fast, we’ve got fearsome talons and, hey, we shake our tail feathers with the best of ’em, baby.

When it comes to mascots, there are far worse things in life than being a Gamecock — or ‘Cock, as we’re generally known. (Go ahead, insert your own off-color joke here. There are lots to choose from and I’ve heard most of them. In fact, I’d share a few with you, but I don’t think the San Antonio Express-News would find them fit to print — or blog, as the case may be.)

Anyway, in case you doubt that I got a pretty good deal when I enrolled to become a USC Gamecock, here’s my top 10 list why things could be worse:

Tulane Green Wave — Crimson Tide wannabees, perhaps? Engenders images of seaweed and algae.

The University of Acron Zips — Um, the last time I looked, ‘zip’ meant ‘zero.’

The University of California Santa Cruz Banana Slugs — Slimy, wormy and just plain ugly.

The University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors — The football team wisely dropped the “rainbow” part; the basketball team should consider following suit.

The New York University Violets — Because tiny purple flowers are mighty, indeed.

The Maryland Terrapins — As my friend Mike Roche says, “Fear the turtle!” Poor Mike, he may be a little slow . . . just like his Terrapins.

The Presbyterian College Blue Hose — The what? They can’t be serious, can they?

The Ohio State Buckeyes — People, listen to me: A buckeye is a tree. A tree!

The Webster College Gorloks — Named after the intersection of Gore and Lockwood Avenues in Webster Grove, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. Gorloks have the paws of a cheetah, the horns of a buffalo and the face of a Saint Bernard dog.

The Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes — Way to make the student body feel strong and powerful, folks.

All in all, the mighty Gamecock is looking even mightier by the minute!



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