By the end of this week, the preseason hype surrounding South Carolina's football team is expected to be official.
The SEC's annual Football Media Days in Birmingham, Ala., is the unofficial media kickoff for the season and marks the starting place for preseason polls to be released.
In most years, that is not a moment of significance for the Gamecocks. However, coming off an SEC East championship and with most of its contributors on both sides of the ball returning, South Carolina is expected to be the media's pick to win its division.
The Gamecocks have not been picked to win their division or the overall SEC title since joining the league in 1992.
"We love the excitement," senior offensive lineman Terrence Campbell said. "We are fortunate to be in the situation we are in, and we are just going to come out and play our game."
The Gamecocks finished the 2010 season ranked No. 22 by The Associated Press. They were 9-3 at the end of the regular season with victories against Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida and Clemson before closing the year with a humbling 56-17 loss to Auburn in the SEC title game and a disappointing 26-17 loss to Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
"My expectations are, of course, to end up in Atlanta [for the SEC title game]," Campbell said. "We had a taste of it last year. We don't want nothing less than to end up in Atlanta ... and to win it, nothing less than that."
South Carolina's internal expectations will not be any different than they have in the past, senior cornerback Akeem Auguste said. They might be more realistic this season.
"Ever since we have been here we have always wanted to be the best, and for some reason we always end up short," Auguste said. "This year, we feel like since we're in the top [in several summer college football polls], we can stay there."
Many of South Carolina's incoming freshman class, who have not experienced the past disappointments, have higher expectations than that.
"We are looking forward to this season, trying to get better to win this national championship," said freshman defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the nation's No. 1 recruit.
Last season's division title was the first SEC title for the Gamecocks. It was only their second title of any kind in more than 100 years of football.