Tears from Coach Lou ... what's new?

wo dozen reporters showed up Tuesday afternoon just to hear South Carolina coach Lou Holtz downplay his team's chances in Saturday's SEC showdown with Tennessee ... and the Gamecock boss certainly disappoint.

Holtz, the king of all poormouthers, began by noting that Carolina receivers dropped 17 passes in the team's first two games.

He then hinted that the Gamecocks have little chance to win in Knoxville, since they struggled in their only previous road test, losing 31-7 at Georgia. ''We played so poorly at Georgia that we just want to go on the road and play better,'' he said.

Next, he noted that, while his defense has played fairly well, it has ''never seen a power team like Tennessee.''

Suggesting that there's a great disparity in talent, he pointed out that Tennessee has ''put 68 players in the NFL since 1994,'' then added: ''The last three years we've probably played our best game (vs. UT) and still didn't beat you.''

Noting that Carolina is 1 of 7 on field goal tries, whereas UT's James Wilhoit nailed a 51-yard field goal last Saturday vs. Florida, Holtz deadpanned, ''We can't PUNT the ball into the end zone from that distance.''

After pointing out that UT routinely makes most of the clutch plays in 10-game winning streak vs. Carolina, Holtz suggested that his players are mentally beaten before the game even begins. ''Tennessee has made so many big plays that our players have a stigma ... 'Here we go again,' '' he said.

Finally, when UT sports information director Bud Ford thanked Holtz for his time and expressed eagerness to see him this Saturday in Knoxville, Coach Lou wisecracked, ''We're going to vote Thursday on whether we're coming.''

Crying towels, anyone?

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