Given that South Carolina's 2012 backup, Dylan Thompson, led the Gamecocks to wins over both Clemson and Michigan to end the year and that starter Connor Shaw will miss all of spring camp after foot surgery, and that Steve Spurrier remains the head coach, there likely wasn't a soul in all the Palmetto State -- the palmetto trees included -- that wasn't expecting a Gamecocks quarterback controversy in 2013.
"I really think both of them deserve to play," Spurrier said. "I know you can't just say, ‘Well, we're going to play both quarterbacks this game.' But it worked out in the bowl game. Dylan is going to play. He helped us beat Clemson, and Connor was healthy for the bowl game and re-hurt his foot. They both played well in that game and had a lot of good plays.
"They're both very unselfish young men. It could easily be that they both play throughout the year some way or the other."
Thompson will be a junior this fall, with Shaw entering his senior season after seizing the starter's job from Stephen Garcia halfway through the 2011 season and keeping it until his injured final week of 2012. Shaw is 16-3 as a starter, a perfect 10-0 at home, and finished last season third in the SEC in passing efficiency (behind only AJ McCarron and Aaron Murray) with 435 rushing yards to boot.
In short: Shaw hasn't actually done anything to warrant losing snaps to Thompson (other than suffer a bout of injury misfortune), much less his grip on the starting job. But Thompson all but forced the issue with his play against Clemson and in the bowl. And both quarterbacks surely knew what they signed up for (for better and worse) when they agreed to play for the Ol' Ball Coach.
That doesn't mean it'll be any easier on Gamecocks fans -- or possibly some of the quarterbacks' offensive teammates -- to go through another roller-coaster season under center. But even before spring practice kicked off, even before Spurrier's comments, you could see that train being pulled up the first hill. The only thing the Williams-Brice Stadium faithful can do is hang on and hope for the best from whichever quarterback happens to be on the field.