State 125

Lou Holtz liked the challenge at USC

Lou Holtz
Lou Holtz File photo/The State

Thousands of fans showed up at Williams-Brice Stadium for the news conference when Lou Holtz was introduced as South Carolina’s 31st head coach on Dec. 3, 1998.

“When I left the University of Notre Dame, I honestly felt I would never coach again,” Holtz said that day. “My heart is now here at the University of South Carolina.

“My effort and dedication is to you. … Our goal is to win the national championship.”

He didn’t manage that, but he did post an 8-4 season and a 9-3 season and back-to-back victories in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl.

Holtz, who had won a national title as the head coach of the Irish before coming to Columbia, was intrigued by the challenge of winning at South Carolina, something few coaches before him had done, he said.

“People were saying, ‘You can’t win at South Carolina.’ I had a lot of coaches, some in the SEC, tell me not to come here. They said there were enough jobs where you could win. You’re fighting too big a hill. You’ve got a reputation. You can go other places.”

Holtz left the school after the 2004 season with a 33-37 record.