Oct. 13, 2016
Courtesy of Brian Hand, Spurs & Feathers
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His love for the University of South Carolina was no secret, and that is why the honor of Jim Carlen being elected to the University of South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame means so much to the Carlen family.
“He loved Carolina,” Jamie Carlen, son of the legendary South Carolina head football coach and athletics director Jim Carlen, said. “I would have loved if Dad would have been alive because I know he would have been very excited just to be in the USC Athletics Hall of Fame.”
Jim Carlen concluded his legendary coaching career at South Carolina in 1981. During his time at the helm of Gamecock football, he led the Gamecocks to 45 wins and three bowl game appearances (Gator, Hall of Fame and Tangerine). His team picked up one of the most impressive victories in school history when the Gamecocks bested No. 17 Michigan, 17-14, on Sept. 27, 1980, at Michigan Stadium before a crowd of 104,213.
During the same 1980 season a player that Carlen recruited would go on to win the Heisman Trophy in George Rogers. The No. 1 NFL Draft pick in 1981, Rogers would be one of three first-round choices in the NFL Draft to play under Carlen at South Carolina, joining Rick Sanford and Willie Scott. A native of Cookeville, Tennessee, Jim Carlen played college football for another legendary head coach in Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech.
Jim Carlen closed out his own legendary head coaching career having won 107 games. Carlen coached at West Virginia (1966-69) and Texas Tech (1970-74) before taking over the helm of Gamecock football. Carlen’s honoring in the University of South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame marks his second honor from his stops as the two-time Southwest Conference Coach of the Year in 1970 and 1973 is also in the Texas Tech Athletics Hall of Honor.
Despite his success at West Virginia and Texas Tech, it was the Palmetto State that became home for him though after his arrival at South Carolina in 1975.
“He loved the players, he loved the coaches, he loved the people,” Jamie Carlen said. “He really liked Columbia and the University of South Carolina.”
If he got up to speak, surely he would have said, ‘listen, I didn’t do anything. It was all the people around me.’Jamie Carlen
A true family man who treated his players, coaches and staff as part of his own family, Jamie Carlen points out that his love of his Gamecock family is what his father, who passed away in July of 2012 at the age of 79, would have said at the podium.
“If he got up to speak, surely he would have said, ‘listen, I didn’t do anything. It was all the people around me. I just kind of managed,’ ” Jamie Carlen said. “He would have said that ‘it was an honor for him, but it would have really been about his coaches and his players.’ He would have said, ‘you surround yourself with good people and good things happen.’ The coaching staff and the players were all one big family. I know growing up around it, it was a different feel, and I’ve been around enough other football now to know it was different.”
Jamie Carlen said they will be bringing a large grouping to the induction ceremony at The Zone at Williams-Brice Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 20, of children, grandchildren and husbands and wives to honor the man that meant so much to his own family and the Gamecock family.
They know Jim Carlen would have relished the opportunity to be there himself because it would have given him another chance to see his coaches and players.
“He was excited about South Carolina,” Jamie Carlen said.