To know where you are in the present, sometimes you have to look into your past.
For some, that can be a fun, healthy endeavor. For others, well, not so much.
Still, we're paying homage to the past and how it's affected the present in the SEC this week by taking a look at where each program was 10 years ago and where it currently stands. Some programs have made big leaps, some have steadied the course, and others, well, they’re yearning for the days of old.
We continue the series now with South Carolina:
2006 record: 8-5
2006 coach: Steve Spurrier
Notable: SEC legend Spurrier was in the second of 11 seasons at South Carolina in 2006, where the Gamecocks showed flashes of a competitive program in development. Spurrier’s team suffered narrow losses to four ranked teams that season: No. 2 Auburn (24-17), No. 8 Tennessee (31-24), No. 12 Arkansas (26-20) and No. 6 and eventual BCS champ Florida (17-16). At the end of the season, South Carolina beat No. 24 Clemson, 31-28, launching a run of six wins in eight attempts against the hated Tigers between 2006 and 2013. It would be a few more years before Spurrier’s staff had South Carolina truly clicking, but the 2006 team -- a group that featured players like Sidney Rice, Kenny McKinley, the Brinkley twins (Jasper and Casper) and Cory Boyd -- indicated that things were on the right path for a program that had never won much of anything.
Trending: South Carolina’s 8-5 record in 2006 was its best in the first five seasons under Spurrier, whose teams otherwise hovered around the .500 mark. The Gamecocks cracked the top 25 at points in each of the next three seasons, but they were rarely able to sustain any momentum. It wasn’t until the 2010 season, with freshman running back Marcus Lattimore leading the way, that the Gamecocks finally broke through under Spurrier’s guidance. They entered the polls in Week 2 and stayed there for the remainder of the season. Among the highlights of that season: a dominant win over Georgia in Lattimore’s breakout game; South Carolina’s first-ever win over the nation’s No. 1 team, Alabama; the program’s first-ever win at Florida; and finally the Gamecocks’ first SEC East title since joining the conference in 1992.
What’s happened since: The 2010 season was the starting point of the most successful four-year run in school history. Although Spurrier’s program failed to win another division title, the Gamecocks finished 11-2 and ranked in the final top 10 each season between 2011 and 2013. With players like defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft) and quarterback Connor Shaw leading the way, South Carolina emerged as a dominant program. However, the bottom fell out in 2014, when the Gamecocks were ranked ninth in the preseason before a season-opening loss to Texas A&M. They finished 7-6 overall and 3-5 in SEC play, their first losing conference record in five years. The following year was even worse, with South Carolina dropping four of its first six games before 70-year-old Spurrier resigned at midseason. The Gamecocks went 1-5 under interim coach Shawn Elliott to finish at 3-9, the program’s worst record since going 0-11 in 1999, its debut season under Lou Holtz. The Gamecocks hired former Florida coach Will Muschamp as head coach in December, but the jury is still out over that move. Muschamp went 28-21 (17-15 SEC) in four seasons at Florida and consistently struggled to develop a competent offense. It will be a challenge for Muschamp and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper to move the ball with an offense that returns few proven performers in 2016.