USC Continues Talent Surge With Holbrook Hire

North Carolina Associate Head Baseball Coach Chad Holbrook will be named to the same position at South Carolina at 2 pm Monday. Holbrook is widely recognized as being a major factor in UNC's three straight trips to the College World Series. With the hire, the Gamecock athletic program continues its strong spring of bringing in some of the nation's best coaches and upgrading their coaching talent.

The spring of 2008 may be looked back upon as the time when South Carolina athletics turned a corner to overall success. In addition to the hires of new men's and women's head basketball coaches Darrin Horn and Dawn Staley, USC has also hired new football defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson and special teams coordinator Ray Rychleski. All have hit the ground running and are already making their marks in improving their respective programs.

The hiring of Chad Holbrook as associate head baseball coach and recruiting coordinator caps a talent upgrade across the board in the four highest profile sports at USC, and Gamecock baseball fans hope his hiring will bring about a return to Omaha for his new team.

Monte Lee made the most of his six seasons as an assistant to Ray Tanner at South Carolina, moving up to become the new head at his alma mater, the College of Charleston, at the relatively young age of 31. As first reported two weeks ago on GamecockAnthem.com, USC's Ray Tanner was not only was promoting Lee to advance, but already knew he wanted Chad Holbrook to replace him.

Tanner and Holbrook have been close friends for some time, and discussed the possibility of Holbrook replacing Jim Toman a year ago when Toman left to become the head coach at Liberty, but the timing was difficult at the time for Holbrook. His young son Reece was diagnosed in 2004 with leukemia, and he was in his final stages of treatment for the cancer last year.

Leaving Chapel Hill at the time would have meant not only leaving the medical team that had successfully treated Reece, but also leaving the Tar Heel community that had rallied around the entire Holbrook family during their time of crisis. A year later, Reece continues to do well in remission, and the timing worked out for both Holbrook and Tanner.

Questions about what could be perceived as a lateral move for Holbrook have risen in Chapel Hill. Sources tell GamecockAnthem that Holbrook also has a good relationship with Tar Heel head coach Mike Fox, but South Carolina offers him several things that North Carolina currently doesn't. Tanner has publicly acknowledged that he only plans on coaching a few more seasons and would like to move into athletic administration, while Fox has publicly said he plans to coach at least another decade. Holbrook would be the natural successor to either coach, but is much more likely to become a head coach at a major program sooner at USC than at UNC. Coaching in the SEC, which year in and year out is the strongest collegiate baseball coference from top to bottom, is a strong resume enhancement. He also stands to receive a significant increase in compensation at USC over his current salary as a Tar Heel.

His wife Jennifer is a Columbia native, and moving to Columbia would allow her and their children to be close to her family here. Jennifer is currently UNC head basketball coach Roy Williams' administrative assistant, and may fill a similar position for new USC head basketball coach Darrin Horn.

Holbrook played at North Carolina from 1990-1993, and became an assistant coach there in the fall of 1994, after having spent the spring as an undergraduate assistant coach. He leaves Chapel Hill after 15 seasons as an assistant there, his last season serving as associate head coach. He also served as the Tar Heels' recruiting coordinator, bringing to Chapel Hill all the players that have taken UNC to three straight College World Series and two national runner-up campaigns.

UNC's 2004 recruiting class was rated #1 nationally, the 2005 class was ranked #11, the 2007 class was ranked #6, and the 2008 freshman class was rated #7 in the country. The Tar Heels have made the last 11 straight NCAA tournaments while Holbrook was there, who served under two head coaches during the streak.

Current Tar Heel skipper Mike Fox acknowledged Holbrook as being an invaluable part of his team's success, stating, "He is recognized as one of the country's top recruiters and has helped build our program into what it is today."

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