Chad Holbrook and Ray Tanner have formed a quite a duo since the start of the 2009 baseball season at South Carolina.
With Tanner at the helm and Holbrook as his trusted associate, the Gamecocks won 198 games. More important, they made three consecutive trips to the College World Series finals, which included national championships in 2010 and 2011.
The pair isn’t truly splitting up, however. They’re moving up. Over the past week, Tanner was elevated from baseball coach to athletics director. Then he promptly tapped his valued assistant as the new head coach.
They’ll continue to work together, albeit in a slightly different fashion, when the 2013 season rolls around. Here are a few things they had to say about their new adventures at Monday’s news conference, as compiled by The State’s Neil White.
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On being named head coach
“This is a 19-year dream come true. It’s hard to believe that a country boy from Shelby, N.C., is standing up here as a head baseball coach at the nation’s premier college baseball program. What this program has been able to accomplish over the years is simply amazing.”
On holding out for the USC job
“It was important that I work in a place that could compete for and win championships. We’ve shown that we have that ability. This is the perfect opportunity for me. This is the perfect opportunity for my family.”
On attempting to replace Tanner
“I can only be the best Chad Holbrook that I can be.”
On keeping the program successful
“We will not sit back on our laurels. We will not sit back on our past.”
On how he wants to approach the position
“We’re not going to talk about Omaha, we’re not going to talk about championships. We’re going to talk about doing our best each and every day. Hopefully, come June, we’ll find ourselves in a good spot.”
On what UNC basketball coach Roy Williams told him about recruiting
“Coach Williams called me on the phone the other night and said, ‘Don’t make the same mistake other coaches make when they move up a seat to the head coaching role. Be sure you always do what you’re good at doing.’ I think that’s one of my strengths. I want our fans to know that I’m going to recruit my rear end off.”
On keeping Tanner as counsel
“Every day I’m going to drive him crazy and tap into his experience. If I have something I don’t know how to answer, I’m calling Coach Tanner. He’s my security blanket.”
On recruiting the state of South Carolina
“We don’t win two national championships without Michael Roth, Scott Wingo, Brady Thomas, John Taylor. The list goes on and on and on. If we don’t take care of our state first, we’re in trouble. That will be our priority and our focus each and every year when it comes to recruiting.”
On the expectations of fans and media
“I want to coach at a place where expectations are high. When we recruit, we recruit young men who embrace the expectations of this program and embrace the tradition of this program. That doesn’t give me apprehension at all. We want kids who want to be in the spotlight.”
On bypassing other head coaching opportunities
“I never considered it work. When I got down here and started working for Coach Tanner, even though I was his assistant, he gave me head coaching responsibilities. I didn’t need to go anywhere else. I had a lot of fun working here at South Carolina. I’ve had a tremendous amount of fun working for Coach Tanner. I’ve learned something new every single day.”
On Tanner no longer being on the field
“It’s going to be weird for our fans and, certainly, for me, on Opening Day not to see him in jersey No. 1.”
On leading the Gamecocks against Clemson
“They’ve got a great program, too. They’ve got a great coach there, too. It’s just a great baseball rivalry, probably the best in the country. I’m honored to be a part of it. Our players will continue to embrace the Clemson rivalry. It’s fun to play Clemson.”
On keeping the winning ways going
“I don’t have any concerns about our program whatsoever. We have good players in place. We have great coaches. We’re going to have good teams.”
On Holbrook’s ability to bring in top players
“You look at his track record in recruiting. He has recruited a lot of great players. When you have great players, you have a chance. He’s going to continue to do that. There’s no doubt about it.”
On Holbrook leaning on him
“He’s not going to need me. He knows what he’s doing. Should he (need me), I’m not too far away.”
On Holbrook not leaving for somewhere else
“He always told me, ‘I’m waiting for the right one.’ The right one is now.”
On Holbrook’s uniform number
“I asked which uniform he would be wearing in 2013, and he immediately told me No. 2. But I think he deserves to be wearing No. 1.”
On giving Holbrook the opportunity
“This job in baseball here at Carolina could have attracted many of the top coaches throughout the country. But the best man and the best coach for this job is already here. He’s a great coach and he’s a great communicator. He’s a great recruiter and evaluator of talent. He will be a great ambassador for the University of South Carolina.”