As a Mississippi State fan, I’ve always looked at South Carolina as a similar school. In the SEC, competing, but usually coming up short. But lately, the Gamecocks have pulled away from State in all sports.
Both schools found moderate football success with formerly great coaches – Jackie Sherrill for MSU and Lou Holtz for USC. But State hired Sly Croom after Sherrill, Carolina hired Steve Spurrier after Holtz. Spurrier has made them a perennial bowl team; and even has a SEC East Championship and 11 win season in the last two years. They are poised for another excellent season in 2012.
Before 2010, South Carolina was in the same pool as MSU – no national championships in a team sport. But they were able to cross their name off that list after winning the College World Series. In 2011, they did it again – back-to-back national championships. State is known for baseball success, but eight trips to Omaha haven’t produced a championship yet.
And now this week, with both South Carolina and Mississippi State looking for a new head basketball coach, they hire Kansas State coach Frank Martin…paying him $2 million per year. Martin took KSU to four NCAA Tournaments in five years (including a trip to the Elite 8), but he leaves for South Carolina? It’s the $$$.
South Carolina is passing MSU by in football (they’ve won 6 straight in the series). They’ve passed State in baseball. Now it appears they are very committed to passing us by in basketball as well. I know Scott Stricklin has said money won’t be an issue in finding a new basketball coach, but we’ll see if he can match the kind of fire power USC is bringing in.