Gamecocks coach puts off talk of future
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- What's Lou Holtz going to do next? Depends if the White House calls.
"I see Secretary of State's open," the 67-year-old South Carolina coach said Monday.
Don't expect Holtz to succeed Colin Powell. But the question that's consumed South Carolina fans the past few weeks remains: Will Holtz return for a seventh season?
"This is not a good time to talk about it, it really isn't," Holtz said. "It's just not a good time."
Holtz said all his focus and energy is on helping the Gamecocks (6-4) beat Clemson (5-5) and not on what's ahead.
Speculation of Holtz's future has come up about this time in each of his six years at South Carolina. He has generally waited until after the season to give a thumbs up to supporters.
The past few weeks, though, have vexed even the staunchest backer trying to figure out what's next.
Holtz has said he was tired and worn out from the season. He continually makes references to "whoever is the coach next year" when questioned about his future. Complicating matters are reports this month that a school representative talked to former Florida coach Steve Spurrier about returning to college football.
And just when Holtz sounds as good as gone, he'll throw out a line like, "Don't bury me yet," or "There's no opening at South Carolina."
Holtz is signed through 2008. However, a clause in his deal lets him or the university get out of the agreement with five days notice.
Gamecocks defensive end George Gause said Holtz hasn't told the players anything about next season. "It's his decision and whatever happens, happens. We just have to go along with it," Gause said.
South Carolina athletic director Mike McGee has steadily refused to talk about Holtz's return.
It's understandable that Holtz wants the focus on the game ahead this week. Last year, the Gamecocks, needing a victory at home against Clemson to reach a bowl, instead were blasted 63-17. Holtz vowed after the game such a debacle would not happen again.
Holtz said it wouldn't have been fair for him to leave last season -- and leave the program in such a funk. This year, he says, the Gamecocks are on more solid footing and should be strong for the next few seasons.
For now, Holtz is trying to cut off the talk about him and make sure his team is pointed at Clemson.
"I don't want to go down that road because there's only one thing on my mind right now and only one thing important in this world right now and that's Clemson, for our seniors and our football team," Holtz said. "And I don't want to get into anything else."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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