In fairness to all things JSU, rarely has it been this good to be a Gamecock.
Turn on ESPN to see highlights of the Gamecocks’ thrilling double-overtime upset of Ole Miss.
Turn on ESPN2 to see a nationally televised interview with JSU quarterback Coty Blanchard, the talented freshman from Cherokee County High.
Log on to YouTube for video proof of JSU’s come-from-behind exploits that had gained thousands of online views.
Open The New York Times to see the succinct, yet fitting, headline: “Mississippi is stunned.”
Four days after the Gamecocks’ impressive 49-48 victory in Oxford, Miss., the small university in the rolling hills of Calhoun County continues to bask in the warm glory of its football team’s success. Make no mistake: It is success earned. An unlikely win over a larger school? Yes. But a fluke this was not.
JSU deserves its 15 minutes of fame. Though let’s hope it lasts longer than that.
In JSU’s lap now resides a gift that should not be squandered. It’s too valuable to waste. Yes, the Gamecocks’ newly expanded stadium debuts this Saturday; call that twist a fateful sign. Ticket sales are easier after what some say may be the biggest victory in school history.
Pardon us if we think that 1992 national championship still rests on that mantle.
Considering what’s at stake, perhaps the best advice to give JSU administrators today is this — capitalize on it. Don’t let this tidal wave of free advertising go to waste.
In other words, get some campus-wide bang out of the buck gained last Saturday.
Market the university; sell the school; spread the message of the university’s academic worthiness. In effect, JSU’s unlikely victory over Ole Miss equated to a nation-wide recruiting video for the Friendliest Campus in the South. Today, JSU’s brand is red-hot, its name and Gamecock logo flashed on TV and computer screens all across the country.
JSU can’t buy that kind of airtime.
University officials who recently updated the school’s website would be wise to spend another dose of their advertising budget now — right now — so other parts of campus could benefit from the football team’s success. If that helps the university attain its goal of surpassing 10,000 students, then so be it.
As for the Gamecocks themselves, the pressure’s now on. JSU football fans who long for the school’s first postseason victory since 1992 should have sky-high expectations. Based on what the Gamecocks showed last Saturday, a season without playoff success would be a major disappointment.
Of course, right now disappointment is a word unwelcome at JSU. Well-publicized success can be a game-changer. Let’s hope the university takes advantage of the reward it now proudly owns.