NEWBERRY - When members of South Carolina's "Black Magic" 1984 team are honored tonight on the 25th anniversary of their school-best 10-2 season, one of the primary architects of that success will not be on hand.
Not that Mike Hold didn't want to be there.
But as his former teammates - along with members of USC's 1969 ACC champions - are being cheered at Williams-Brice Stadium before tonight's game against Vanderbilt, Newberry College's associate athletics director for business will be busy with a home game of his own: Newberry's South Atlantic Conference clash with Tusculum.
"Part of my job is game (operations) for all sports," Hold, 46, said, sitting in a cozy office with store tags still on some of the furniture. "I make sure the officials and the other teams have the right locker room setup (and) the on-field stuff is ready to go."
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His primary responsibility, though, is in his title. Hold oversees an annual budget of about $2 million that has to take care of 580 athletes - "more than Carolina, with a tenth of the staff," he said.
Though he did not start his job until seven weeks ago, first-year athletics director Brad Edwards says Hold "is significantly further along than I anticipated. He's turned into, from the feedback I get from coaches, one heckuva administrator."
Hold laughed at that. "It's a whole lot smoother now than the first few weeks," he said.
What Edwards called Hold's "attention to detail on the budget" might surprise those 1984 players who have not seen him in, say, 25 years. Back then, his persona at quarterback was that of a "gunslinger," according to Edwards, a freshman on the '84 squad.
A junior college transfer from Arizona, Hold was USC's football version of a relief pitcher, coming off the bench behind starter Allen Mitchell in the first 10 games before starting vs. Clemson and in the Gator Bowl. Even so, he led the Gamecocks in passing (1,385 yards), total offense (152.4 yards per game) and touchdowns (eight passing, 5 running).
"Mike was the guy who came in and gave a real spark (to the offense)," Edwards said. "He was an exciting player. He wasn't going to sit in the pocket; he'd take off with the ball."
After USC, Hold played Arena Football from 1987-2000, then coached five Arena and af2 teams, the past two seasons as coach of the Mahoning Valley (Ohio) Thunder.
Having moved to West Columbia with wife Nicole and daughter Hudsen, 2, to escape Ohio winters, he admits he was skeptical when Edwards offered him the job. "I didn't know about administration," Hold said. "Even after I took the job, I thought, 'What's this going to be?'"
Happily, he found himself working closely with Newberry's coaches. "The coaches (including first-year football coach Todd Knight) respect the fact Mike's been a coach, too," Edwards said.
This week, as USC's 1984 reunion approached, Hole said he thought a great deal about what was special about the team that was 9-0 and No. 2 in the nation before an upset loss at Navy.
"Senior leadership and the offensive line, definitely," Hold said. "We were loaded with seniors, and when those guys came to (preseason) camp, they were saying, 'We're going to go out winners.' We (underclassmen) followed their lead, but they set the tone.
"We weren't the most talented team, but we had the biggest hearts. And I think we wanted it the most each week."
Hold said he feels a similar vibe in his new job. One of the nation's smallest football-playing colleges, Newberry charmed him with its "family-oriented" approach, he said.
"The other day I was watching a soccer game with Jason (Valek, Newberry's wrestling coach and a Clemson graduate), and the president (Mick Zais) came down from his house next to the field and said, 'Come look at my new mounting,'" Hold said. Soon, the three avid hunters were admiring a bobcat head on Zais' wall.
"It's so inviting and comfortable, that's what I didn't expect," Hold said. "That makes the job easier."
Hold said he will miss tonight's reunion. But he has another team to "quarterback" now.
USC's Black Magic season of 1984
The 1984 South Carolina team won a school-record 10 games and reached No. 2 in the nation before a late-season loss at Navy. A look at that Black Magic season, game by game:
OPPONENT // RESULT // SITE // HIGHLIGHTS
The Citadel // USC 31-24 // Columbia // Halfback pass from Quinton Lewis to Chris Wade goes 40 yards for clinching TD
Duke // USC 21-0 // Columbia // Starting QB Allen Mitchell scores on 2-yard run, 31-yard pass Eric Poole
Georgia // USC 17-10 // Columbia // QB Mike Hold comes off bench, throws 62-yard pass to set up winning TD
Kansas State // USC 49-17 // Columbia // Gamecocks roll up 350 yards rushing, 476 total in blowout
Pittsburgh // USC 45-21 // Columbia // Hold, Mitchell throw for 198 yards, two TD passes each
Notre Dame // USC 36-32 // South Bend, Ind. // Hold's two TD runs spark 22-point fourth-quarter comeback
East Carolina // USC 42-20 // Columbia // Kent Hagood rushes for 118 yards, Hold throws for 210 yards, two TD passes
N.C. State // USC 35-28 // Raleigh, N.C. // Hold-to-Chris Corley for 61 yards, two Dendy TD runs spark 25-point fourth quarter
Florida State // USC 38-26 // Columbia // Record 75,000 watch Raynard Brown 99-yard KO return, two Mitchell TD passes
Navy // Navy 38-21// Annapolis, Md. // Midshipmen use USC's early missed chances to build 31-7 lead, end 9-game win streak
Clemson // USC 22-21 // Clemson // Hold TD dive, Scott Hagler second-chance PAT cap 12-0 second-half rally
Oklahoma State // OSU 21-14 // Jacksonville, Fla. (Gator Bowl) // Ira Hillary 57-yard TD catch for 14-13 lead before Cowboys score late