Legend at the Crossroads

Coaches come and coaches go. That is the business of college football. However, legends are few and far between. We've had the honor and privilege to be led onto the field every Saturday over the last six years by one of these living legends, Lou Holtz...

Holtz is the eighth all-time winningest coach in NCAA history. He is third among active coaches behind Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno. His passion runs deep. His style is uniquely his own. His love for his players is unmatched. Lou has reached another crossroads in his historic career. This is a look back at his time at South Carolina, and ahead to the future. It is because of Lou Holtz that we can finally see our motto coming true, "A past to remember, a future to build."

After Brad Scott was released, (following the 1998 season), we all wondered who would come in to resurrect our struggling program. As fans, we hoped for a big name Coach. No one could have fathomed what was about to happen. After turning the job down, (reportedly three times), and being told by numerous friends and associates that he could not win here, Lou Holtz took Mike McGee's challenge of taking us to the next level. Lou used his motivational tactics from day one. He told the fans of his plan to win an SEC championship and compete for a national title. One thing is certain, USC football would never be the same. Holtz's reputation and legendary status immediately brought constant national media to the University of South Carolina.

Lou's inaugural season was dreadful, to say the least. The team suffered numerous injuries and his Gamecock career got off to an 0-11 start. Still, there were signs of better things to come. The team, although over matched nearly every week, played hard and never quit. They developed an "us against them" mentality which brought them closer together.

Year two of the Holtz era saw a turnaround the likes of which had not been seen before. The Gamecocks realized a historic win over a ninth ranked Georgia team and a trip to the Outback Bowl. It was during the Outback Bowl that Holtz reached into his motivational bag of tricks and turned Ohio native Ryan Brewer loose. Ryan was a man on a mission as he faced home state school. A school that never even attempted to recruit Brewer. Ohio State suffered the defeat and the Gamecocks went concluded their season 8-4, winning a bowl game for only the second time in school history.

His third year saw continued success. Another win over Georgia, a regular season ending victory over arch-rival Clemson, and a second consecutive Outback Bowl win over Ohio State. South Carolina now had it's most successful two-year stretch in the school's history with 17 wins. Holtz's influence and popularity also helped land the first of two appearances by ESPN's GameDay during his tenure.

Years four and five were so eerily similar that they are hard to separate. Lou's crew raced out to 5-2 records, then inexplicably collapsed late in the season. Both seasons saw a dismal 5-7 record at their conclusion. This meant no bowl game either year.

After last season's embarrassing finale against Clemson, rumblings of Lou's retirement began in earnest.

Year six brought changes in the coaching staff, and in the culture of the program. Lou himself got neck-deep in changing the attitudes of the players and the fans. It worked! There have been some bumps in the road. However, the team continued to play hard and became bowl eligible with a much needed win over Arkansas. They are have assured themselves a winning season.

We have now come to the proverbial crossroad. Lou can see the talent and determination of the players who will be returning. He knows they are very close to competing for that elusive SEC title he promised the fans. He also knows that many are upset with his stubborn and conservative style of play. He knows he can't coach forever. He also knows that his friend, (ultra-successful college football coach), Steve Spurrier is interested in the job. He has to consider the options of continuing or turning over the reigns to someone else. Lou loves the glory, but he loves his players more and truly wants what's best for them. Is it time to leave? A winning season would be a good note to go out on.

There is no doubt that Lou Holtz has elevated this program during his tenure. The team is more competitive and talented than any Gamecock team we've seen since the mid 1980's. Whatever he decides, this program has forever been changed by one of the most legendary figures in college football history ... Lou Holtz.

Thank You coach! We LOVE you!

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