USC trustees hire Steve Spurrier as head Gamecocks football coach

Coach Spurrier with WIS News 10's Rick Henry
Coach Spurrier with WIS News 10's Rick Henry

(Columbia-AP) Nov. 23, 2004 - University of South Carolina trustees have agreed to hire former Florida coach Steve Spurrier as football coach after weeks of speculation.

Spurrier, 59, replaces Lou Holtz, who announced his retirement as the Gamecocks coach on Monday after six seasons with the Gamecocks.

USC Athletics Director Mike McGee said, "Ladies and gentlemen, [it's] my pleasure to introduce to you South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier."

"South Carolina is the very ideal spot for me to coach, and hopefully I'll be the ideal coach for South Carolina," the new Gamecocks coach said after his introduction at a news conference Tuesday afternoon at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.

Trustees approved a seven-year contract that will pay Spurrier $1.25 million a year. Incentives could increase that to $2 million annually.

USC President Dr. Andrew Sorensen, who was hired as Florida provost and vice president for academic affairs in 1990, the same time Spurrier was hired to lead the Gators on the gridiron, "Steve arrives here with huge expectations and excitement. I am delighted that our fans have opened their arms to him."

McGee says Spurrier was contacted about the job shortly after South Carolina's loss to Tennessee on October 30th. McGee says Spurrier is interested in the challenge of making South Carolina a winner, "We found someone whose record speaks for itself. He's a proven winner. ... Even more importantly he will lead this team off the field, helping them reach their academic goals and molding their character as they continue to develop as young men."

Spurrier would return to college football after a three-year absence. He was the Washington Redskins coach for two seasons after leaving Florida. Spurrier won a national title, six SEC championships and 122 games in 12 seasons at Florida. He also went 10-0 against the Gamecocks. The schools are scheduled to meet next season in Columbia November 12th.

At his Monday morning news conference Holtz said he expects to be replaced by a well-known, proven winner with whom he plays golf, which appeared to be a reference to Spurrier. The Washington 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.

Sorensen also thanked McGee and Holtz for their roles in the negotiations with Spurrier before saying, "The Gamecocks faithful are proud to call you one of us."

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.

Reported by Heather Brown

updated 2:08pm by Chantelle Janelle