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A Good Run Of Bad Luck In Colombia

Posted by Matt on September 4, 2007

Author’s Note: This article originally appeared as an exclusive piece with one of our sister sites, Gamecocks Sports Forum. They host our official forum and are a great online community and come highly recommended.

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Unfortunately for Quentin Richardson, a top offensive line recruit in the Gamecocks’ stable, the memory of his June 24th stabbing is a faint one among the South Carolina faithful and thus sympathy for the incident seems to have fallen to the wayside. You see, it has been a tumultuous summer for those who pile in to Williams-Brice Stadium in droves each fall as the South Carolina football program has seen its fair share of adversity. However, the stabbing was neither the beginning nor the end of it all, it was merely the middle-man in a long line of unfortunate incidents.

To begin this roller coaster ride, stud quarterback Blake Mitchell was arrested just last year on charges of hitting a local bouncer, complaints that were later dropped by said employee, leaving one to wonder if the bouncer was trying to make allegations against the football standout to merely bring him down a bit. Bouncers sometimes have a “Road House” complex and have no problems showing off what power they think they have to various patrons, especially if that patron gets as much “face time” as Blake Mitchell. No charges, no harm, then no foul, right? Maybe not so much in the “Court of Gamecock Opinion,” however.

And Mitchell wasn’t the only quarterback to find trouble or, with the way South Carolina’s luck is going, see trouble find him, as freshman quarterback Stephen Garcia (star recruit at the time) was arrested on two occasions within a three week span for public intoxication and vandalism. It can be said that young people are prone to making mistakes and no one person should be crucified without the ability to redeem his, or her, self, but the timing of the incident made it all the more frustrating for “Gamecock Nation.” With two arrests in three weeks, Garcia was beginning to resemble a member of the Cincinnati Bengals, looking to be a part of a running joke that has no doubt ran its course.

But the list goes on.

In an ironic turn of events, the same Quentin Richardson who was stabbed in June, was arrested roughly a month later for possession of marijuana at the same apartment complex that saw his stabbing take place. The “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” cliche comes to mind when I ponder the reality of Quentin returning to the locale in which he was recently involved in a stabbing so severe that it required surgery. Nonetheless, Richardson pleaded “guilty” on the simple marijuana charge but had a judge nice enough to give him a “conditional discharge,” meaning six months of toeing the line and the charges are dropped and Quentin’s record clean. Here is to hoping he keeps on the straight and narrow.

Keeping on the straight and narrow path, something that unfortunately cannot be said for others and embarrassingly enough for Blake Mitchell, the star quarterback was in the headlines yet again in August as he was suspended for the first game of the season for missing too many summer school classes; a decision that was later unsuccessfully appealed by Mitchell.

Not to be outdone by the offense, however, the defense offered up their starting safety for legal troubles as Emanuel Cook was recently arrested on gun charges stemming from an incident on campus. Cook has since been reinstated by the footballt eam and the university after immediate suspension and dismissal, respectively, but it remains to be seen if the charges will be dropped.

Furthermore, as if it could not get any worse for head coach Steve Spurrier, sandwiched somewhere between all of these issues was the fiasco of having two football recruits denied entry by University of South Carolina’s Admissions after they had already been offered scholarships last winter and signed their respective Letters of Intent. The University owes Coach Spurrier and the recruits an apology as not objecting to the admittance of these two recruits any sooner than the beginning of August is a disservice to all involved. When these two student-athletes were offered a scholarship, and subsequently signed on the proverbial dotted line, their recruitment by other schools effectively ended. By not allowing them in to South Carolina as late as they decided, it could easily have hindered their chances to attend elsewhere.

I am not sure why the University of South Carolina decided to suddenly become an academic elitist, making this decision without the input of even the head coach, as it could have really impacted these student-athlete’s lives negatively. It is worth adding that this is not an insult to the University South Carolina by any means as, outside of Vanderbilt, there are not many SEC schools looking to dethrone Harvard for academic supremacy and this is something I think that we can all agree on. Regardless of the university’s reasoning, this was an added headache certainly not in order, or even remotely timely, for Coach Spurrier.

But, to make a long story not as long, the real question should be: Is there light at the end of this long tunnel?

I say a resounding “YES.”

Students and student-athletes make mistakes, I know firsthand, and they should be allowed an opportunity at redemption, in most cases.

The past year for South Carolina, as it is for my beloved Bengals (meaning I can wholeheartedly sympathize with “Gamecock Nation”), seems like a classic case of “when it rains, it pours” and, seeing how the majority of the issues were unrelated, the past year can be chalked up to a few odd coincidences and, hopefully, isolated incidents. A good run of bad luck, so to speak.

It is tough being an athlete in a high profile program with a high profile coach, as is the case with South Carolina, and it is tough for some young people to adjust to being in the spotlight and having a target on their back wherever they go.

The majority shouldn’t be judged by the action of a few, and the character of these players, and the team as a whole, should not be judged by the mistakes that were made, but instead judged by how the ensuing adversity was handled.

If there is any coach in America who garners enough respect to “right the ship” and handle said adversity, it could easily be Coach Spurrier. The “Ole Ball Coach” has, himself, gone through adversity in his career with an unsuccessful stint in the NFL after leaving all he had in Gainesville, Florida. After basically being ran out of the NFL, Coach Spurrier has rebuilt South Carolina football and has the program poised to be a competitive force in the SEC East now, and in seasons to come.

As a final message to all of the South Carolina Gamecock faithful: keep your head up as this could have easily happened to any program in America (look how Toledo Athletics is being investigated now). Don’t allow the negative publicity, or the ensuing jokes, to affect YOUR support of YOUR team.

These ill-fated few are a just that, a few players on a team with many more student-athletes who work hard regularly and who have positive situations, on and off of the field, that go completely unreported by the media. For every bad one, there are most definitely 10 good ones.

So here is to hoping for a heavy dose of good luck to the Gamecocks this season!

That is, except for on October 4th…

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One Response to “A Good Run Of Bad Luck In Colombia”

  1. Tom33 said

    I have been following the team this season and i guess they have had some very goog luck so far this season.

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