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Gift of gab gives Odom a job

Columbia, SC (March 5, 2008) University of South Carolina's Coach Dave Odom  reported to his last day of work for the University of Kentucky game at the  Colonial Center on Wednesday, March 5, 2008.    Photo by Lindsay Semple  /lsemple@thestate.com
Columbia, SC (March 5, 2008) University of South Carolina's Coach Dave Odom reported to his last day of work for the University of Kentucky game at the Colonial Center on Wednesday, March 5, 2008. Photo by Lindsay Semple /lsemple@thestate.com

Dave Odom's ability to talk at length is well-chronicled: Before his postseason news conference in 2007, media members wagered on the length of the then-South Carolina coach's opening statement.

The winner had 33 minutes - still 18 minutes shorter than Odom's preseason opening statement.

So it was no surprise that Odom emerged from semi-retirement on TV and radio, lending his basketball experience and vocal chords to ACC hoops telecasts - with one major adjustment.

"You've also got to be more concise, which is a problem for me - as you know," Odom, the Gamecocks coach from 2001-2008 said last week.

Broadcasting is an outlet of choice for many former coaches, including Eddie Fogler, Odom's predecessor at South Carolina. Bob Knight has become a featured color analyst. And long before he became the voice of college basketball, Dick Vitale was a coach.

Michelle Schmitt, who was Odom's media relations director for six years in Columbia, knew Odom would make a great analyst. But not only for his ability to communicate.

"He's got a really good memory. He's got a story on everybody," said Schmitt, who works at Santa Clara University in California. "And people really like him; he's got a lot of respect (from) people, from coaches. So because of that, he talks to a lot of people."

Odom, 67, has dipped his toes in the business, doing a couple of games a month. He called the Wake Forest-N.C. State game on Saturday and is scheduled to work the Miami-Florida State game on March 7. He is an independent contractor, not affiliated with a network or company. He mainly works for Raycom on television broadcasts and does radio for ISP and Westwood One satellite broadcasts.

"I have enjoyed it," Odom said. "It is entirely different than coaching. Radio is different from television in a lot of ways. I'm like anybody else who's starting to do something for the first time: It takes you a while to get comfortable. You get more comfortable sooner in radio than in television because there's less involved."

Radio has been easier for Odom because it is more forgiving. Doing television, the ex-coach is getting used to on-camera detail, such as whether he should look at his play-by-play partner or at the camera.

But it has kept Odom involved in basketball. So has the Maui Invitational, the November tournament that Odom was hired last year to oversee. He used his contacts to put together next year's field, which includes Kentucky.

As for his former team, Odomsaid he hadn't seen enough of the Gamecocks to comment. Then, true to form, he commented.

"Obviously, Devan is having a wonderful year, and that's not a surprise," Odom said. "He's always been a very, very talented player. He's got unique abilities and is a unique player. He's seizing the moment for leadership. I think the coaching staff is using him in exactly the right way."

Odom praised second-year coach Darrin Horn and his staff. Odom said the team seems to have good chemistry and has dealt with the absences of Dominique Archie and Mike Holmes the best it could.

The former coach also took note of the changed atmosphere at home games.

"I think some of the things that have been done, I know how difficult they can be, yet they've been done, which tells you things are going in the right direction," Odom said. "Home crowds, the numbers appear to be better, and the atmosphere ... appears to be very, very supportive. And the students are engaged and doing a great job for the team. So I think there's good things happening."

So could Odom return to coaching? He was noncommittal, saying it would take "a unique situation" for him to go back.

His other endeavors are keeping him occupied anyway. He also still is fundraising for Guilford College, his alma mater in North Carolina. And he is on a committee on ethics in college basketball.

"I'm busy," he said. "I don't think I'm making quite as much money, but I don't care."

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