My friend Doug Nye is gone, and many think his great discovery, The Chicken Curse, is gone with him.
But it pops up now and then.
The Chicken Curse, properly understood, is not just about the Gamecocks football team losing. So the recent winning seasons by the home team don’t mean the Curse is dead. In fact, as I was introduced to the concept in the late 1980s, it’s more about people who otherwise have nothing to do with South Carolina being done in by an incidental association with our flagship university, particularly with anything bearing on its athletic programs.
Under this interpretation, for instance, we understand that Gary Hart missed his chance at the Democratic nomination for president in 1988 because of his relationship with a former USC cheerleader, Donna Rice.
Anyway, the thing that brings all this to mind is the fact that, just days before the BCS Championship game, The Wall Street Journal carelessly decided to run a lengthy interview with Lou Holtz talking about how great the Irish were this year, headlined, “Why Notre Dame Is Back on Top.”
Textbook case of the Curse, as I was taught to understand it…
The Chicken Curse died when Whit Merrifield connected on a clean hit to score Scott Wingo in the deciding game of the 2010 CWS.
Or if you’re really into a more subtle event that killed the curse you need to look at a game that occurred a few days earlier when USC played Oklahoma. In that game USC trailed OK by a run in the ninth inning with a man on second and Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate. With a 2 out 2 strike count the OK pitcher fired off a pitch to the plate that appeared to be just off the corner. With the season on the line, and in the hands of the plate umpire the fate of the Chicken Curse hung in the balance. Would the umpire signal an emphatic, but eroneous, strike call that would end the Gamecocks season and extend the life of the curse? Or would the umpire make the right call and signal a ball? Gamecock nation held it’s collective breath. This was a moment for the ages but only a few Chicken Curse disciples would ever realize the implications of this moment in time. Finally, after what seemed an eternity the umpire quietly signaled “ball”. The Gamecocks were alive, and the curse would now die a slow and cruel death. And with the ball call, and a second chance, Bradley came through with a clean hit that tied the game. The ‘cocks went on to beat OK that warm June night in Omaha and ultimately win the CWS. And with that the Chicken Curse was buried.
Tread carefully; things tend to hang on around here.