Coach ignored BCA's admonition to stay away

Updated: December 11, 2004, 10:41 PM ET
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Madre Hill remembers he was a young sophomore who was challenged by then-Arkansas coach Danny Ford to run harder and produce more on the field.

Against South Carolina in 1995, Hill showed everyone he got the message. Hill, who set a Razorbacks record six touchdowns in a 51-21 victory over the Gamecocks nine years ago, was picked by new South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier as the team's running back coach.

"I was just trying to win a championship that season, so my focus was to score as much as I could," Hill said from his new office Saturday night.

Hill, who is black, is also the first assistant named since the Black Coaches Association urged coaches and prospective players to stay away from South Carolina because it did not look at minority candidates or respond to the group's guidelines before hiring Spurrier as Lou Holtz's replacement last month.

Hill said he supports the BCA's mission. He thanked Spurrier and South Carolina athletic director Mike McGee for allowing him to achieve a lifelong dream of coaching. Asked if he reconsidered coming to South Carolina after hearing the BCA's stance, Hill said, "That's all I'm going to say about that."

Hill most likely fills out Spurrier's offensive staff. Naturally, Spurrier will serve as his own offensive coordinator along with coaching quarterbacks. Steve Spurrier Jr. joined his father this month to coach receivers. Holtz holdovers David Reaves and Rick Stockstill are also expected to hold offensive positions.

Hill says his only connections to Spurrier before now were playing against Florida in the 1995 Southeastern Conference championship game and going against Spurrier's Washington Redskins in the NFL in 2002 and 2003.

Hill says South Carolina has a deep and varied group of runners who can succeed in the SEC.

"This is a great opportunity and I am fully committed to helping South Carolina become a championship team," Hill said.

Spurrier was excited to have Hill on his side this time.

"He brings a lot of excitement, energy and enthusiasm to our football program," he said.

Gamecock supporters remember Hill bringing them much frustration.

Hill was a highly regarded sophomore still trying to find his way that September Saturday in 1995. He apparently found something against the Gamecocks, rushing for 178 yards and a school-record six touchdowns in a 51-21 victory. He rushed in from 3, 1, 2, 1, 12 and 68 yards in the rout, breaking the Arkansas touchdown record that was set in 1916 and tied in 1981.

"It wasn't something I thought a lot about," Hill said of his record-setting TD game. "It just happened that way."

Hill went on to a school record 1,387 yards that season to lead the SEC in rushing and take the Razorbacks into the league's championship game as Western Division champions -- where they lost to Spurrier's Gators.

But injuries followed Hill after that. He missed all of the 1996 season after hurting his right knee. Reconstructive surgery to his left knee the following spring slowed him during 1997.

Hill, though, returned in 1998, just in time to vex South Carolina again, scoring on a 30-yard touchdown run in Arkansas' 41-28 victory at Williams-Brice Stadium.

After college, Hill was drafted in 1999 by the Cleveland Browns. He was also with Oakland in 2002 when it reached the Super Bowl.

Hill, 28, returned to Arkansas and earned his bachelor's degree this year. He was a graduate assistant coach under the Razorbacks' Houston Nutt this past fall.

Hill is ready to coach and help Gamecock runners achieve. "It's going to be baby steps at first, but then we're going to crawl, then we're going to walk and finally run," he said. "That starts now."

And maybe teach a couple of Gamecock runners to do as well as Hill did.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press