There can be no doubt that Coach Holtz and his wife Beth have become very attached to the people of South Carolina. Coach Holtz stressed how much they both loved the college atmosphere. He stated had he not become a coach, he probably would have been a teacher. He loves the young people, their energy and their enthusiasm. He regrets the set-up of the coaching facilities at South Carolina as he firmly believes it inhibits a close relationship with the players and fellow coaches. There is little doubt that Coach Holtz credits the students with keeping him young.
Coach Holtz is a committed family man and never was that more obvious than during today's press conference. His remarks frequently returned to and revolved around his wife Beth. Coach Holtz said that none of us outside of the coach profession would ever fully understand the sacrifices coaches families have to make. His greatest sadness with the current situation is on behalf of his staff. While it is part of the business of coaching, it is always difficult to uproot families, find new jobs, housing, schools, doctors, etc. and that he would commit himself to doing everything within his power to help his current staff. He also said they were a very talented group of individuals and he has no doubts that they will continue to be very successful in college coaching. Lou, the man, let his emotions surface as he talked about his son Skip. He allowed the tears to come as he stated that Skip had been instrumental to him during his tenure at USC and more importantly as a friend. A comment many men would kill to hear from their fathers. Lou also said that while he will miss the young people of a college environment, he was looking forward to spending more time with his grandchildren. He believes the time involved in being a head coach greatly impairs a man's ability to spend time with his family. It is important to him that his grandchildren have the opportunity to get to know him and vice versa.
Lou also commented on how much he will miss his players. While they sometimes do stupid things, he said they are like your children. He said no matter what they do, they are still your children and "these young men are still my players". He commented on the disturbing turn of events during Saturday's play with Clemson. (It was officially noted at the beginning of the press conference that there would be no questions or comments surrounding this event. University officials will hold another press conference this afternoon to address the situation.) However, Coach Holtz regrets the fight and brought chuckles from the room as he compared his legacy to that of Woody Hayes for having a team that brawled with Clemson.
Coach Holtz stated that he would prefer the new coach take over and coach the bowl game should the University decide to participate in bowl play. He sincerely believes it is in the best interest of the University to allow the new coach to take the reigns though he admitted he personally would have liked to coach "one more time".
Lou also received a few laughs as he described the new coach as a big name, successful coach whom I play golf with. Again, pre-conference statements bracketed that line of questioning by saying official announcement would come tomorrow. Lou admitted the thought of leaving did cross his mind after the second Outback Bowl victory. He further stated that he had begun preliminary conversations with University officials at the beginning of the season. He indicated it was his wish that the next head coach be promoted from within the ranks of the existing staff. He believed that process would produce the continuity need for the progress of the Gamecock squad. However, he certainly believed that the coach coming in would be able to take this team to the next level.
Coach Holtz focused on the positive as is so characteristic of him. He does have regrets, of course. Primarily, he regrets being unable to bring home a conference championship. He is thrilled with the new players meeting room though he regrets being unable to ever hold a meeting in it. He regrets the November record over the past three seasons and his record against in-state rival Clemson.
It is always difficult to leave a place, said Holtz. You become attached and good-byes are always sad. However, he believes he is leaving the Gamecocks with a firm foundation and will continue to watch our success as we are led to the next level.
The people of South Carolina will certainly always remember Lou Holtz for the two best consecutive seasons of all time, two bowl appearances that set a record for the school, the bowl victories, the recruiting achievements and the integrity that he brought to college football and to the University of South Carolina. While the era ended today, Lou Holtz will always be a Gamecock. We will be better for his time here.
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