Odom Announces Retirement With Class

Basketball analyst Duane Everett will be on ESPN-Columbia radio's "The Sports Drive with RT" on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the future of Carolina basketball. Read inside for his analysis of Coach Dave Odom's mid-season decision to announce his retirement, and it's impact on the program.

On Friday morning in very unpredictable fashion, USC Head Basketball Coach Dave Odom announced his intentions to walk away from a 43 year coaching career that has assisted in providing great opportunities for young men who might not otherwise have seen success in life and basketball.

Coach Odom's career will always be known for identifying and nurturing the skills of Tim Duncan, a little known swimmer from the Virgin Islands, who now stars in the NBA as one of the greatest centers to ever play both college and professional basketball. Few in comparison will recognize the major impact that he has made in the lives of so many other young men who have had the blessing of playing for him in programs such as Virginia, East Carolina, Wake Forest and finally at South Carolina.

While Tim Duncan is an icon in the archives of great recruiting finds, let's not forget Randolph Childers, Rodney Rogers, Renaldo Balkman, Tarence Kinsey and Brandon Wallace, all who have left the tutelage of the man they call "Coach" to move on to the NBA. That does not take into account the many other players like Rolando Howell, Tre' Kelly and Carlos Powell who have been able to move on to very rewarding international professional careers; add to that Odom's impact on the development of young coaches, as well as the sustaining of the careers of others. And for those who like credibility, don't overlook the fact that the NCAA has never had to bring under investigation a program run by this fiery little man from North Carolina, nor inquire for violation of rules and ethics.

By announcing early, Coach Odom has taken all speculation, rumors and misrepresentation away from the media, fans and less favorable on-lookers. He opens the door for the Athletic Department to look openly for his replacement, and for the assistant coaches to openly discuss potential options for their future. It also allows interested parties to extend their desires through the respective channels without a question of taste and character. But most of all, it allows the season to progress with only one focus within the arenas: allowing the players to regain fan support and play for wins, (hopefully leading to post season play), and development of team continuity for this collection of players, who will have multiple years to play together following this season. Coach Odom made it clear that he was making this decision for the team and the program, and there is no reason to believe anything different.

Many will try to create additional storylines from this announcement, but at 65 years of age, Coach Odom has nothing to explain to anyone for being a great coach in wins, academics, character & career development, honor, loyalty and respectability. However, many have criticized the defense that Coach Odom is a great ambassador for the program, referencing his SEC record and a lack of success in getting his South Carolina teams into the NCAA's.

Nevertheless, his role at the institution will keep this job as one of the most intriguing and interesting jobs available, just as Lou Holtz left USC as a high profile opening.

With a career head coaching record of 401-268 spanning 21½ seasons, Odom has guided his teams to 9 NCAA berths, with one Elite 8, 6 NIT berths, resulting in 4 NIT finals, 3 Championships, and Two ACC Championships. I don't personally know many who can post those numbers and achievements over the span of their careers, and those who can will not be among the critics of Dave Odom or the quality of his coaching over the last 2 decades.

The greatest tribute that could be extended to USC athletics, Dave Odom and his current team is for the fans to show appreciation for his service to the University. Commitment to improving Carolina's student athletic culture is to attend the games, and generate the energy and support that this team sees every time they go on the road.

One might just find in his final season why Dave Odom was both coach and cheerleader, often trying to ignite them because this young team responds to energy, something they have seen more of on the road than they've seen at home, thus the better showings away from Columbia, feeding off the energy of opposing crowds. USC Head Basketball Coach Dave Odom has relinquished his role with class, dignity and support for the program. Let's see if the fans can reciprocate with the same.

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