By: Dustin Martin
For years the Gamecock faithful watched as University of South Carolina teams made great strides towards winning championships, only to come up short in their best attempts.
The 1984 football team rose to number one in the nation before losing to heavy underdog Navy and losing their chance at a national title. The 1997 men's basketball team won the SEC Title before losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The top reason given for these and many more mediocre performances and flops was the Chicken Curse. The curse is said to have began when former governor Ben Tillman slammed a pitchfork into the ground on USC's campus, declaring the school to be cursed. It was a reaction to resistance from people in Columbia and Charleston to creating Clemson University.
With one swing of a bat in the 2010 Men's College World Series finals, Whit Merrifield may have buried the curse forever by helping South Carolina win their first major national championship. And if that wasn't good enough, the following year coach Ray Tanner's club repeated as National Champions.
"The chicken curse is long dead no question about it," coach Tanner said.
Since those two titles there is more excitement around sports on the campus of USC. On the already football crazed campus, this year's Gamecock football team has garnered national attention as a possible dark horse for a national championship. Just a few years ago that would have been thought of as impossible.
While Whit Merrifield may not have known it at the time, the ping of his bat against UCLA, and Scott Wingo's joyful gallop into home plate, may have been the biggest step in changing the atmosphere around USC.
The curse has been lifted it seems. Now all that's left is putting more hardware in the trophy case.