Nov. 22, 2004
Columbia, S.C. – University of South Carolina head football coach Lou Holtz, who ranks eighth on the all-time win list in major college football history, announced his retirement at a press conference Monday morning at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Coach Holtz, whose 33-year head coaching career is highlighted by 249 victories, a national championship, three national coach of the year honors and 12 bowl game victories, concluded his sixth season as head coach of the Gamecocks. During that time (1999-04), he led Carolina to two New Year’s Day Bowl victories, back-to-back top 20 national rankings, and unprecedented national media exposure never before experienced in the program’s history.
“Today we recognize one of the game’s outstanding coaches, Lou Holtz,” said USC director of athletics Mike McGee. “Coach Holtz had already developed his coaching legacy before he took on the challenge at South Carolina, but he and his wife, Beth, saw this as being a special place with a special challenge. We will all be eternally grateful to Coach Holtz and Beth and for the many contributions they have made to the University and to the state of South Carolina. I have never worked with another coach who was more giving of his time to the public than Lou Holtz.”
“It could be argued that through his speeches and connections with an amazing array of groups across the country year after year, dealing with topics and issues far afield from football, Lou Holtz has done more to put the University of South Carolina and the Palmetto State on the map than anyone else in living memory,” said Dr Andrew Sorensen, University President. “While Lou’s accomplishments on the football field speak for themselves … his accomplishments off the field are also noteworthy and deserve our tribute.”
Here are some comments from Head Coach Lou Holtz…
“It’s always with mixed emotions whenever you leave somewhere. It’s never a good time. It’s never all good. It’s never all bad. I always felt, my wife and I, that when you go to a place you get involved in the community, you get involved with the university and you certainly get involved with the state and we tried to do that.
Along the good things, I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to work with such a supportive administration in Dr. McGee and his entire athletic department. Dr. Sorensen, who I think has provided excellent leadership for this university and greater things are going to happen. And also I appreciate the opportunity to work with Dr. Palms, who hired me when I first came here. Also I feel to have been blessed to know so many good fellow coaches. Coach Frye, what a special guy he is. How Coach Odom and I just agree on so many things and Ray Tanner and Puggy Blackmon, who’s still trying to straighten out my gold swing. Susan (Walvius), the basketball coach, and Kim (Hudson), how many Gamecock Club meetings we’ve been to. I only regret that we weren’t in the same building and you could spend more time with them.
Also, I’ve been fortunate to be around students all my life. One of the great things about remaining young is to be around young people. One important decision we made in 1976 was we wanted to raise our children around a college environment. I feel blessed that we’ve been able to live in a college environment for so many years. The students are just always special. Their youthfulness, their exuberance, I just really enjoy it. I enjoy the college atmosphere tremendously. Matter of fact, if I wasn’t a coach, I’d probably been a teacher.
The fans are the best. I mean what can you say about them. They sure know how to celebrate a win and they handle disappointments with the very best of them.
I also want to thank the news media. I can honestly say this, never once did I see anybody ever come to a press conference unprepared. Never have I had anybody, that I can recall, ask a stupid question or question that was out of line and that’s all that anybody can possibly ask.
The secretary, Rita is just special, her proficiency is outstanding … and the maintenance people. You know there are a lot of people at this university that make this a special place that nobody knows about. The maintenance people, when I come in early in the morning, they’re usually the only ones here. They always have a smile, a kind word. When you look at the cleanliness of the stadium and things along that line and just see the amount of pride they take in what they do.
I’ve certainly been blessed to be around our coaches-the assistant coaches of both present and the ones before. Their commitment and the way they tried to do things, no coach could ask for any more.
I’ve certainly been blessed to be around our players. Good or bad, they’re still your players. You still love them. You still try to work with them. It’s like your children. They’re going sometimes still disappointment you, not very often, but they’re still your children. These are still our players.
And also, I’ve been blessed to have my family. The only time I really get emotional is when I talk about them. Well, the things you say to your wife are best said in private. What a great young lady. And, I’m proud of all my children, and Skip has just been invaluable to me-just as a friend.