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December 25, 2012
------------ BING CROSBY
It's been quite a year, and as you gather around family to open your presents, we at GamecockCentral.com offer the presents you've gotten to unwrap over the past 366 days.
We deeply appreciate your membership and the level you've taken GamecockCentral.com to over the past year. We feel we're in our best place yet, across all phases of what we try to do.
* Another 10-win football season, with another chance for an 11th win. Nobody needs reminding that two straight 11-win seasons would be a first.
* A consensus All-American for the second straight season, and the first time that USC has had one in back-to-back seasons. Jadeveon Clowney followed Melvin Ingram from 2011 as the shining star of a relentless defense, winning more accolades than even Ingram and ready to head into 2013 as a Heisman Trophy contender, and perhaps in some circles, a favorite.
* Marcus Lattimore. While we all wish that he could have stayed healthy, we all must be thankful for what we got to witness, despite the bitter end.
* A coach who's still at it in his late 60s and seems to get younger every time he speaks. Steve Spurrier is exactly what USC wanted when it hired him - a program-builder and a winner.
* A seamless transition when an outstanding athletic director ceded to a rookie AD. While Ray Tanner hasn't made any huge moves yet, the vision that he has and the winner that he is ensures that the department is in good hands.
* An athletic program that by and large is winning. There are still some programs under construction or going through a lull, but overall, USC is fielding winners in every sport. Fantastic success has become a bit of the norm over the past year, thanks to the next on the list.
* A baseball team that nearly made it three straight national championships before falling, but still left Omaha with a memorable winning streak. It's been quite a party.
* An up-and-coming women's basketball program that after five years of building, is enjoying those fruits. Yes, it's women's basketball, but a fan should be a fan of all programs of its school, no?
* A simple four-letter word - that has replaced a lot of other four-letter words - when it comes to men's basketball. The Gamecocks will struggle this year, and the final record may not be to your liking, but you have what you didn't have for a long while. Hope.
* And for a USC fan, the greatest gift of all. As you gather around your Christmas tree, notice how the vision of four outstretched fingers look against the bright star on top. May the next four years be as pleasing to the memory as the last four.
If you have any questions about this feature or wish to discuss it, please visit The Insiders Forum, Gamecock Central's members-only message board for Gamecock fans.