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Aug. 1, 2003

Columbia, SC – * USC head football coach Lou Holtz played golf with the local media Friday morning at the University Club outside of Columbia. Assistant head coach Skip Holtz also joined in, as did associate athletics director Kerry Tharp.

* Playing a powerball format, the winning team consisted of Bob Shields, sports director at WLTX-TV, Rick Scoppe of The Greenville News; and Rick Millians, executive sports editor of The State.

* Following the golf, the Gamecock assistant coaching staff joined the group for lunch. Each coach got up and introduced himself and shared a few things about his background with the media. The media then did the same, and shared some of their background with the coaches.

* Coach Holtz addressed the group and reiterated the fact that the staff is anxious to get started next week. “I can’t tell you what kind of team we will have,” said Holtz. “But, I do believe this will be an exciting team to watch.”

* Coach Holtz said he was confident in turning over the offensive reins to assistant head coach Skip Holtz. “I told Skip to run it however he wants,” said Coach Holtz. “He and I differ somewhat when it comes to offensive philosophy, but he can run it wide open if he wants to.”

* Coach Holtz said that it was still undetermined if wide receiver Matthew Thomas would be fully reinstated to the team. Thomas has been under suspension since his arrest in the spring on charges of simple assault. Thomas had been accepted into the Pretrial Intervention program and according to Holtz, had completed all of the necessary requirements set forth by that program. “I’m told he’s done everything he is supposed to have done. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

* When asked about what he had heard regarding the NCAA’s looking into the South Carolina program, Holtz said: “I feel comfortable with how we run and operate our program. I understand they have been looking into some things, exactly what, I don’t know. They (the NCAA) have a responsibility and I am sure they are doing what they need to do in carrying out this responsibility.”

* Holtz said he would like to see the NCAA administer the assigning of officials to college games. “I’d like to see the NCAA take over the officiating aspect of the game,” said Holtz. “Instead of having crews from different conferences, I’d like to see the NCAA act as a clearinghouse for all officials.”

* The Gamecock team reports this Monday. The first practice is Tuesday. The season opener is Aug. 30 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (7 p.m.).