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Newz Forum: FOOTBALL: COLLEGE: Holtz steps down as coach at South Carolina

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posted on Nov, 22 2004 @ 06:11 PM
CLEMSON, S.C. -- South Carolina coach Lou Holtz walked away from a coaching Monday, ending a 33-year career that was one of the most successful and colorful in college football history.

"It's always with mixed emotions whenever you leave somewhere," Holtz said during a news conference, his eyes filling with tears.

The 67-year-old coach told the team and his staff on Thursday, although he's said little publicly about his departure or about reports Steve Spurrier will succeed him.

Holtz did not identify his successor, but said he was a well-known proven winner whom he plays golf with.

The Gamecocks lost 29-7 Saturday to Clemson in Holtz's final game.

"I don't know where I'm going to go. I don't know what I'm going to do. I have faith in the Lord to let him lead me. As long as my family's with me, everything else will be OK," Holtz said. "But I do feel confident leaving here that the football program is on a firm foundation."

He's eighth in career victories with 249. But what he became known for was reviving dormant programs. He took six schools -- William & Mary, North Carolina State, Arkansas, Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina -- to bowl games by his second year. He won a national championship with the Fighting Irish in 1988.

After leaving South Bend, Ind., in 1996 and thinking he would never coach again, the then 61-year-old Holtz was lured to Columbia to replace fired Brad Scott.

Holtz suffered through a miserable first season in 1999. His wife, Beth, had a recurrence of throat cancer; his son and top assistant, Skip, had a mysterious illness that hospitalized him early that football season; his mother, Anne Marie, died right before the Florida game; and a university plane carrying Holtz on a recruiting trip crashed after dropping the coach off, killing the pilot.

His team went 0-11, the worst season of Holtz's career. So when South Carolina stunned then No. 9 Georgia in the second game of the 2000 season, it was a remarkable accomplishment. The Gamecocks continued their resurgence the next two years, going 17-7 and twice defeating Ohio State in the Outback Bowl.

Holtz is the only coach in South Carolina history with two bowl victories.



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