Odom: Fine Man Ends Career

I have spent private time with most SEC basketball coaches in the last 20 years, and not one of them is a better guy than South Carolina head man Dave Odom. The 65-year-old mentor is retiring after this season. It's a decision that takes no one by surprise, but the timing is rather odd.

It would have been better to make this announcement at the start of the year in a move that might generate enthusiasm and renewed passion for the Gamecocks program. Instead, it looks more like a reaction to an 0-2 SEC start and chants of "Go Dave Go" that have become commonplace at the Carolina Coliseum.

Odom is in his seventh season in Columbia, South Carolina and his greatest accomplishment is the unusual pairing of consecutive NIT Championships. Carolina has gone to just one NCAA Tournament on his watch and has posted a miserable 37-61 record against SEC Teams.

Grant to Head Wish List?

It will be interesting to see if former Gator assistant Anthony Grant is the man atop the Carolina list of candidates. It makes sense that they would at least take a shot at Grant, who had a superb first season as the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth. The Rams are 12-4 this year, making Grant 40-11 on his young career. With his SEC background and ability to recruit the state of Florida he would be the best possible guy for S.C.

But I don't see it happening.

First, I'm not so sure the South Carolina job is all that better than the one Grant enjoys. Second, while John Pelphrey will coach against the Gators for Arkansas, that's a lot different from being in the same division and perhaps going head-to-head on the recruiting trail. Grant spent several more years coaching with Billy Donovan than Pelphrey did and he has been gone a much shorter time. I think that head-to-head situation would be something neither coach would like to experience.

Finally, Grant could be the hottest coaching commodity in the country this off-season and there are bound to be multiple opportunities with more established programs. Ask Steve Spurrier and Lou Holtz how tough it is to build an SEC contender at South Carolina. Ask Dave Odom. Yes, Eddie Fogler had a magical season and won the SEC in 1997, but his eight-year record at Carolina was a mediocre 123-117. In the last 33 seasons South Carolina has earned just four NCAA bids, and lost in the first round each time.

Anthony Grant is the right man for the Gamecocks, but they aren't right for him.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel

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