USC FAN-ATICS – NORTHEAST RESIDENTS LEAVE NO DOUBT ABOUT THEIR LOYALTIES

Swayze LeGrand may not be the Gamecocks’ biggest fan.

Then again, he may be.

A Pontiac resident, LeGrand is a USC devotee. He gets “cold chills” every time he hears the theme 2001 on his videotape of last year’s Carolina- Clemson matchup. Where the team travels, he travels. He quotes opponents, dates and scores from memory. He attends practices. He knows the coaches. His blood, as they say, runneth garnet. Heck, he even works near the stadium.

LeGrand is one of northeast Columbia’s superfans — fan-atics, if you will. They don’t just put on one bumper sticker; they plaster the whole car. They hang rooster rumps from the trunk. They tithe to scholarship funds. They buy their fall wardrobes at the Jewelry Warehouse and spend their savings on funny-colored vans that stay parked eight months of the year.

Some buy white toilet tissue dotted with tiny Gamecocks, but to the likes of Swayze LeGrand, that’s kids’ stuff. His whole bathroom is, well, fair game.

“When we built the house, that was one room I got to do,” LeGrand said.

The master bathroom is decorated completely in Carolina colors. The wallpaper is garnet-and-black pinstripes. The toilet is black. The shower is burgundy. The Jacuzzi is garnet and black. The mirrors sport tiny Gamecocks. And a “granny Gamecock” sits atop the toilet.

“The only bad thing is she has an orange nose,” LeGrand said.

LeGrand, who travels to the games in an elaborate Gamecock-colored van, didn’t even attend Carolina.

When he was 14 years old (he’s 34 now), he got a job selling game programs at the stadium. Paul Dietzel was coach then.

“I got hooked on it then, and I’ve been hooked ever since,” LeGrand said.

His wife, Debra, is, too. Lucky for her. They spent their honeymoon in Athens, Ga. — USC was playing Georgia that weekend.

In 10 years, the couple hasn’t missed more than two or three games, home or away, LeGrand said. The 1981 van has 60,000 miles on it,

“and 55,000 are Carolina miles,” he said.

The LeGrands’ 1-year-old son hasn’t a chance. He knows how to say “Gamecock” and attended his first practice last week.

“I showed him a pre-season book with Todd Ellis on it, and he just went crazy,” LeGrand said.

“I’ll try to let him make his own choice” about college, he said, but “I think it would break my heart if he wanted to go to Clemson.”

Steven Radovich, 66, is another Gamecock groupie. The retired Army sergeant is a relatively new fan — his obsession started with the Notre Dame game in 1984.

Every year, he is first in line for game tickets at Joe E. Mann Community Center at Fort Jackson.

He’s called “Mr. Gamecock,” and he calls his car “The Gamecock- Mobile.” It’s a 1978 Plymouth Volare literally covered with Gamecock stickers and paper footballs autographed by players. Of course, the Gamecock- Mobile also bears the customary garnet and black flags and Gamecock tailfeathers.

Will his wife drive it?

“Next question,” he says, adding, “Some people say they wouldn’t ride in it for nothing.”

Some people would probably like to get their paws on it, though. Radovich doesn’t dare drive the Volare to Clemson.

“I wouldn’t be able to get it across the line,” he said.

The fan-atics’ predictions for the season? Upbeat, of course.

“Overall, I think the athletic department is in the best shape it’s ever been in,” LeGrand said of Carolina. “I think we can beat everybody on our schedule; the only team above us is Florida State. I think no worse than 8-3, but we could be as good as 10-1.”Caption:

Steven Radovich roosts atop his ‘Gamecock-Mobile.’ The garnet 1978 Plymouth has hardly a square-inch that’s not adorned with USC paraphernalia. Ginger Pinson / The State

Legrand and Debra Swayze and son, Dexter Earl, show their colors in the master bathroom, which features a black toilet and a garnet shower. Mary Ann Chastain / The State

September 8, 1988  State (published as The State)  
Columbia, South Carolina
Page 67

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