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(Columbia-AP) Nov. 19, 2004 - Following news Lou Holtz announced his pending retirement to his Gamecock players before practice Thursday, the attention of South Carolina fans turns to the man who will reportedly replace him, Steve Spurrier.
Reports say the former University of Florida Gators and Washington Redskins coach has agreed in principle to become South Carolina's next coach if and when Holtz retires. Holtz is expected to formally announce his retirement at an 11:00am press conference on Monday. You can watch it live on WIS News 10.
All season, the 67-year-old Holtz said he was worn out and tired. He has said Spurrier would be a wonderful choice to replace him. Holtz's announcement Thursday came on the same day as reports that Spurrier has agreed to take over at South Carolina, if and when Holtz stepped down.
South Carolina athletic director Mike McGee would not confirm or deny whether Holtz had decided to retire or if Spurrier had been approached to replace him.
The website of the Nashville daily paper, the Tennessean, reports Spurrier is headed back to the Southeastern Conference and quotes "a source close to the situation." A story on ESPN.com says the network has confirmed the paper's story of an offer in principle to Spurrier to become USC's next coach.
The Washington Post reports Spurrier agreed to a deal worth reportedly between $1.5 million and $2 million on Wednesday after a meeting with school officials with his agent.
The Tennessean says Spurrier will be announced as Carolina's head coach next week after this Saturday's game at Clemson.
USC Associate Athletic Director and Sports Information Director Kerry Tharp on Thursday morning remains tight-lipped about the Nashville report, "I don't know. I haven't been involved in these types of situations and I, really the only thing that I'm going to tell you is that the report out of Tennessee today is incorrect."
Tharp told WIS News 10, "It's Coach Holtz's call. When he decides what he's going to do, we'll go from there." Tharp says he can't talk about speculation.
Steve Russell is the sports director at WRUF-AM in Gainesville, Florida and while he has no concrete evidence about Spurrier taking the job, he does say it makes sense, "I do think Steve's going to take the job, and the reason I think that is because I don't think they would leave Coach Holtz in a lurch like that. It would be a horrible public relations move for South Carolina. I don't know any more than you all know except that trying to figure out Steve and predictability is unpredictable. But yeah, I think when it's all said and done, I think he takes the job."
On Tuesday, Holtz was asked if he had spoke with Spurrier, a friend, about coming to South Carolina, "I've talked with Steve. We're friends. I've asked him how to cure my slice. That's about it." The Post says Holtz and Spurrier became especially close after Spurrier helped Beth Holtz gain admission to a Florida hospital for cancer treatment five-years-ago.
Steve Spurrier's brother, Graham Spurrier, told WIS News 10 he has not talked to his brother since Steve Spurrier asked not to be considered to replace Ron Zook at Florida. But, Graham Spurrier says his brother wouldn't decide until Lou Holtz does, saying the two are too close for it to be any other way.
Still, Graham Spurrier thinks USC would be a good fit for his brother, "Location. He's four or five hours from the Florida. He's got summer homes down there. He's got family that lives in Charlotte and I'm three hours away. So, you know, as far as location it's an ideal situation also. But, you know, I like the main thing is it's a challenge to him and I think he thinks he can take it to the next level and beat there every year."
The Washington Post says the president of Augusta National Golf Club, Hootie Johnson, a former USC fullback, is also involved in negotiations with Spurrier, himself an avid golfer. Holtz is a member of Augusta National, which each spring hosts the Masters.
The Spurrier deal isn't done, but that's not stopping some Gamecock stores from cheering on the coach. The SC Shop on Rosewood Drive is printing Spurrier t-shirts. The store is selling shirts with Gamecock spur to form the phrase "Air Spurrier."
The news comes the week after the Gamecocks lost to the college team Spurrier last coached, Florida, 48-14. Spurrier, 59, won a national title and six SEC championships in 12 seasons at Florida. Holtz, 67, has led the Gamecocks to a 6-4 record in this, his sixth season.