SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) – They have watched the SEC Championship Game with limited interest for 18 years.
But now that South Carolina is going to its first title game, enthusiasm has gone to new levels for Gamecock fans, from Columbia to Habersham Street.
"It's been an amazing year,'' said Bucky Johnson, senior vice president of operations for the YMCA of Coastal Georgia. "There's a lot of crowing going on right now.''
And a good bit of it can be heard in the executive offices at the Habersham YMCA, where Johnson is not the only USC graduate. He and marketing assistant Kathy Whitehurst have replayed, analyzed and celebrated every step of the Gamecock's unprecedented march this season.
"With Bucky, it's been fun,'' said Whitehurst. "We've had a good time and we've got a couple of other teams represented here so it's been fun.''
"We've had a good time bantering back and forth and propping one another up and enjoying the year together,'' added Johnson.
And with USC the cock of the walk in the SEC East, fans have become easier to find, at the Y and throughout Savannah.
"It's been a magical year. We've had a lot of highs and a few lows,'' said Johnson, who attended USC when the school competed in the ACC. "It's really been fun to be able to be happy about a season after many, many years of experiencing more difficulty than success.''
Come Saturday, Johnson will be watching from his Savannah home, unable to find tickets.
"It's going to be surreal, it really is,'' he says. "I might have to have an extra cold one before kickoff just to get myself ready.''
But Whitehurst will be at the Georgia Dome after she and her husband lucked into a pair.
"He was actually sitting in a Mexican restaurant in Chattanooga, Tenn.,'' Whitehurst said of her husband, also a USC alumnus with whom she has attended every Gamecock home game this season. "He looked over on the wall and there was a sign that said 'two tickets to the SEC Championship Game, call this number.' And he called the number and it was a 75-year old man who has gotten tickets for years.''
But both Savannah Gamecocks plan to be in their same, familiar place Monday morning.
"Well, I hope we can enjoy a congratulatory high five and have a lot of smiles,'' said Johnson. "I think I'm looking forward to that happening, actually.''