South Carolina is not supposed to win a national championship of any kind; when it wins its second in a row in a major college sport, that's something to pay attention to. To anyone who somehow doubted its success because of a series of postseason appearances that proved as futile as the Atlanta Braves' 1991-2005 run, South Carolina baseball proved in 2011 that it is a program to be paid attention to.
To some degree, it was simply another demonstration of the SEC's dominance in college baseball, a sport that the conference towers over far more than it even thinks about controlling college football. Of the 64 teams in the NCAA Division I baseball tournament, seven came from the SEC. (For reference, there were 292 teams in Division I baseball last year, meaning one in roughly every 4.5 teams nationally goes to the tournament, while more than half of the teams in the SEC did.)
Three of the national seeds that keep home-field advantage until the College World Series heads to Omaha came from the league: Florida, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
And then the series began. All seven SEC teams made the finals of their respective regionals. Florida, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt made the Super Regionals, with all except for Mississippi State moving onto the eight-team College World Series. The Gators and the Gamecocks eventually made the final series, ensuring an SEC win in the event for the third consecutive season.
The whole time, South Carolina kept a postseason winning streak that stretched back to 2010's CWS run going -- bizarre game after bizarre game. And when the dust cleared, South Carolina had taken home its second national championship in a major team sport.
That capped something of a golden age in Gamecocks athletics. Just a few months earlier, South Carolina had won the 2010 SEC East title in football. Two straight national championships in another sport put South Carolina fans in a position they have rarely know: Their programs looked like winners.
Beginning this year, another will get to continue one of the greatest win streaks in Gamecocks history. Even if they fall short, it will have been a great ride.