Minter on the Loose

Gamecock defensive coordinator, Rick Minter, spoke to the Orangeburg Touchdown Club Thursday. Coach Minter discussed everything from his early days with Lou Holtz, to his 10 years at Cincinnati, to the 2004 Gamecock season and beyond. He gave a great speech and continued with the verbal barbs for Clemson fans as well. After the speech he even took some time to answer a few questions of mine before heading back to Columbia...

Minter first worked as a graduate assistant under Coach Holtz at Arkansas in 1978. He met Lou a few years earlier at his high school and told him that he wanted to work for him one day. "I had no idea it would be three times!" Minter quipped. While getting his own career established, he continued to follow Coach Holtz's career. When Coach Holtz took the job at Notre Dame, Coach Minter got in touch with him again. Rick said he called Lou every off-season until he was finally hired as the defensive coordinator in 1992. After two extremely successful seasons, he got an opportunity to fulfill his dream of becoming a head coach with the University of Cincinnati. He was the architect of that program, taking it from obscurity to six bowl games in ten seasons and a Conference USA title.

On December 1, 2003, Minter's coaching life changed when he was fired from Cincinnati. "When life hands you lemons, you can make lemonade or wallow in self pity and stick your head in the sand", Minter said. That Friday he got a call from an old friend, Lou Holtz, and the coach just said he was thinking about Minter. That meant a great deal to him. Holtz also planted the seed that there was an opportunity at South Carolina, and he needed Rick's help. "After the way the season ended last year, Coach had to make some changes, that's the way it is in the fast lane, so to speak," Minter added. Lou did not press him for an answer, he told him to think about it. Minter, after handling his issues of no longer being a head coach, and helping his assistants, said it came down to answering the "call". A friend wanted and needed his help, and he was not going to be able to rest comfortably, without helping, so on January 12th he took over as defensive coordinator at USC. "I did not ask for December 1, but it came. I feel badly for those guys who aren't here now, but at the same time, it's an opportunity for me," added Minter.

He quickly recapped the season so far. He said he felt like they gave away the game to Georgia, but they showed the heart of a champion, and we can build on it. The Mississippi game is the one he felt like the defense just blew. "When you score 28 points, that should win any game," he said. Overall he is pleased with the defense that is ranked third in the nation in scoring. He said that when you get down to it, points are the main stat that matters. He did point out that except for Georgia, the Gamecocks toughest tests lie ahead. "We play Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida, and Clemson in a row every year, I don't know what the hell the schedule makers were thinking," he said. He also added that to be a champion you cannot dodge anyone and you have to beat the best teams, no matter when you face them.

Minter said that the young secondary players are really coming along well, especially Ko Simpson, (Fred) Bennett, (Tremaine) Tyler, and (Tagiy) Muhamed are also picking it up. He did say, however, that the lack of a true shut-down corner, is the reason that we are not blitzing as much. He feels like that will come, but they need a little more development.

He wants them to play better, but is pretty pleased. "The only games that we have given up more than seven points were the games we lost," he concluded. He praised them for giving up seven or less in the five wins. "If that continues through the next four games, then most of them should go our way."

As Minter thanked the crowd he said, "We appreciate your support, those of you who are Gamecocks in the area. If you are Tigers, then, well the hell with you," he quipped. He said that all is fair in love and war, and it's a rivalry, not life and death. Minter stated emphatically, "I think there is so much to be said when it's one neighbor against another neighbor in the game of football. It takes two to make a rivalry, it takes a pro and a con, it takes somebody for you and somebody against you, that's what football is all about. It takes someone to cheer for you and someone to cheer against you, and I can tell you Clemson people I'm damn sure not cheering for you!"

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories