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From Where I Sit: What's the Greatest Gamecock Photo?

by Brad Muller

From where I sit, a picture is worth a lot more than one thousand words. Heck, sometimes one word is enough. A co-worker told me that August 19 is National Photography Day, so let’s celebrate early! Photos evoke emotions and memories from a singular moment in time. You remember where you were and how old you were when you see a certain photo. I sometimes forget what I had for breakfast, but some photos can take me back in time over the span of decades and bring up a tidbit of information about that particular moment that I didn’t even know I had stored!

Sports photos are great for that. Muhammad Ali standing over Sonny Liston. The 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team’s win over the Soviet Union. Brandi Chastain’s kneeling power flex. There are plenty of them.

So, what about the most memorable South Carolina sports photos? As a broadcaster, I have many pictures in my mind of events I’ve covered, and a ton of selfies of my son and me at various South Carolina games. You can go back one hundred years I suppose and find some great ones, but without even thinking too hard about it, there are a few that jump out at me right away for the Gamecocks.

I know I’ll never forget seeing the 2017 women’s basketball team, led by superstar A’ja Wilson, hoisting the national championship trophy after winning the program’s first title.

Anytime I see that picture with Wilson holding the trophy above her head, I remember how I felt calling that game and that moment. It was emotional, and seeing a photo from that day brings it all back. My wife and son were able to make the trip for that game.

It’s a flood of memories from one photograph.

Who can forget the snapshot of Whit Merrifield’s game-winning walk-off hit to win the 2010 College World Series. I can still feel the texture of the couch I jumped off to celebrate while I was watching it on TV. I think I scared our dog. His name was Rusty, and he was a good boy. I miss that dog.

Anyway, I also love the photo of Matt Price getting mobbed after the Gamecocks repeated as College World Series Champs in 2011. Poor Rusty, he thought he had done something bad because I was yelling at the TV again.

I can look at the photo of Steve Spurrier being carried off the field after beating Florida in “The Swamp” in 2010 to clinch the program’s first SEC Eastern Division title and remember so much about that game. I happened to be working that game for a replay television broadcast that we used to do before the SEC Network came along.

While the picture is of Spurrier, it makes me think of Marcus Lattimore who ran the ball 40 times that day. 40 times!!! Then I start going down the rabbit hole of how much I wish Marcus never got injured, twice, and what a career he could have had!

There are plenty of iconic South Carolina football photos. How about Steve Tanneyhill with his arms to the sky after leading the Gamecocks to a win at Clemson in 1992?

I had graduated from Carolina in August of that year, and during my four years at the University, South Carolina hadn’t beaten Clemson in football.

Watching that game, I remember being more relieved than excited. That picture makes a little voice inside my head echo, “finally.”

I guess you can’t talk about iconic photos from the rivalry without mentioning D.J. Swearinger’s big hit on Andre Ellington, followed up by the crouching flex over his victim.

I have to admit, I’ve never been a big fan of taunting, and Swearinger received a fifteen-yard penalty for it, which sort of overshadows the play. Still it’s iconic of a great period for South Carolina football. In recent years it has become a meme.

I know there are many more, but my favorite Gamecock photo is one that was basically a screengrab from a postgame interview with women’s basketball star Aliyah Boston after the Gamecocks won the 2022 National Championship. The previous year, the Gamecocks had lost a heartbreaker to Stanford in the Final Four after Boston’s stick-back at the buzzer bounced off the rim in a 66-65 loss. It seemed like some national media outlets preferred to use the teary-photo of Boston in every game promo for the next 11 months, so after the Gamecocks won it all in 2022, Boston told ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe immediately after the game, “so if you want a smile, here you go” and gave a blissfully happy, teary-eyed grin to the camera. Every time I see it, I think about that team and how great of a person Aliyah Boston is. She is the real deal, on and off the court.

From where I sit, it’s the perfect picture.

So, what is your favorite Gamecock sports photo? Hit me up on Twitter at @SCBrad92.

Check out some of the previous “From Where I Sit” columns by clicking here.