Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Gameday Activities & More Hype in Columbia

The South Carolina State Capitol, located near the Horseshoe (GameDay site) and the Vista bar area.
COLUMBIA, SC -- The excitement for Saturday continues to build. I went to trivia last night at the Thirsty Fellow, which is immediately adjacent to the Colonial Life Arena, and their weekly 'Special' menu featured such items as "Burn the Hedges" Soup, "The DOWNward Dawg Salad, an "UGA-ly Burger," and "The Fall of Athens Dinner." And as you may imagine, 107.5 The Game has been especially interesting, with everyone emphasizing that UGA has been SC's circle game on the calendar which allows them to dismiss their otherwise-dismal performance against the Kentucky Wildcats.

The new Farmer's Market will be hosting a free Billy Currington concert at 5pm on Saturday. The Farmer's Market is located on the Southwest side of the Stadium, immediately opposite the Stadium across Bluff Road (the Bojangles is conveniently accessible).

For Friday night activities, be aware that the Salty Nut/Pavlov bar complex in Five Points will be very busy, with the Salty Nut rumored re-opening finally occurring the same weekend. The bar area though has a large outside setup at night for big home football games, and will still feel more spacious than most of the other cramped Five Points bars. For those unfamiliar with the bar areas, Five Points is generally the more undergrad/throwdown bar area, with the newer Vista bar scene being more appropriate for the older crowd.  If you are looking to find a sports bar to hunker down in, however, the Vista will be a better option (check out the Carolina Ale House).

For Gameday logistics, the South Carolina State Fairgrounds, the primary tailgating venue which varies opening depending on the kickoff time (example, UAB parking for a 7pm kickoff, was not open until 2pm), will officially be open at 8am to accommodate the anticipated hordes of fans descending on Columbia.

USC will also be operating free shuttles from the Fairgrounds to the situs of the GameDay broadcast, from 8:30am until 1:30pm.  Be aware, however, that parking at the Fairgrounds will be more limited than an average game due to setup activities associated with the South Carolina State Fair, which begins the following week. Unless you already have a parking pass for the lot, there will not be general paid parking available at the Fairgrounds.

There will be parking around the Colonial Life Arena, with a (very quick) shuttle over to Williams-Brice Stadium, for those who would like to try and avoid the parking headaches immediately around the Stadium. Make sure to get in the area early to avoid major parking hassles later.

Monday, October 1, 2012

'It's Official,' the Hype in Columbia Has Begun

The SC student newspaper cover, building up the hype on 10/1.

COLUMBIA, SC -- On a wet, dreary, and overcast day in South Carolina, even the weather cannot dampen the irrational exuberance that is part and parcel of the natives' passion for the Gamecocks. Especially on campus, the excitement for the game is noticeably palpable, with 4-5 conversations between myself and Gamechicken fans immediately before & after the normally quiet 8am class bloc.

The excitement is very much justified however, with this being the first top-10 matchup between SC and UGA in the rivalry's historically infrequent matchup. The highest-ranked matchup between our Dawgs and SC occurred, coincidentally enough, in 1980 in a matchup of future Heisman trophy winners George Rogers and Herschel Walker, with #4 UGA beating #14 SC 13-10 in Athens.  The 7pm game will also be the first time SC and UGA have played each other in October since 1971.

The only complaint I have heard so far regarding the ESPN College Gameday selection is the site location of the broadcast.  While ESPN itself considers the Historic Horseshoe as "one of the best sites we've ever had for College GameDay," the Horseshoe is nearly 3 long miles away from Williams-Brice Stadium, located across several railroad tracks and with rows of seedy warehouses and industrial areas further separating the two locations. Especially with the new Farmers Market tailgating grounds, located in an otherwise bleak area surrounding the stadium, it is surprising to me that SC did not try to convince ESPN to more extensively highlight the big upgrade.

As an open question, what pro-UGA ideas come to mind for Gameday sign material for this weekend? With the later than average opening of the Fairground parking lots and surrounding lots, all of the travelling Georgia fans should have plenty of time to visit the Gameday scene before getting down to tailgating business before the big night game.

As things further develop here in Columbia, and the hype/smack talk unfolds, I'll try to add more location-specific coverage as we rapidly approach the big game.

Feel free to toss your visor into the ring in the comments below, or on Twitter!