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Report says Spurrier to coach South Carolina

November 18, 2004

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Steve Spurrier has agreed to take over as football coach at South Carolina if Lou Holtz retires at the end of the season, The Tennessean of Nashville reported in Thursday's editions.

An announcement regarding Spurrier, who won a national championship at Florida, is expected next week, the newspaper said, citing an anonymous source close to the situation.

South Carolina spokesman Kerry Tharp denied the report. He said the 67-year-old Holtz still needs to decide whether to return for a seventh season with the Gamecocks.

"Let's let him make that assessment," Tharp told The Associated Press. "I can't comment on what people are speculating. I'd just as soon leave it at that."

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South Carolina athletic director Mike McGee would not confirm or deny the report and referred all questions to Tharp. Holtz canceled a scheduled to meeting with the media Thursday after practice.

Several times this season Holtz has said he felt tired and worn out. He's also mentioned that Spurrier would be a good choice to succeed him.

This week, as the Gamecocks (6-4, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) prepared for Saturday's game with Clemson, Holtz addressed reports that South Carolina contacted Spurrier.

"I've talked to Steve," Holtz said. "I don't want to go in that direction, but I have talked to him. We talked about how you cure a slice, his son, etc. Steve's a good friend of mine, as I said. All I want to talk about is Clemson, Clemson, Clemson. That's all. That's the only thing on my mind."

There was much speculation that Spurrier would return to Florida next season, following the recent firing of Ron Zook. But Spurrier pulled his name out of the running, saying coaching 12 years at one school was probably enough.

Spurrier and Holtz are friends. Spurrier helped Holtz's wife, Beth, obtain an appointment with Florida's NCAA faculty advisor Dr. Nicholas Cassisi for treatment for her throat cancer. When Beth Holtz was in the university's surgical center for several weeks, Spurrier's wife, Jerri, checked on her several times to see what she needed.

"He didn't have to do any of that," Holtz said in 1999. "He's got a million other things on his mind. I was out of coaching."

Spurrier, 59, went 20-13-1 in three seasons at Duke before taking over at Florida, his alma mater, in 1990. The Gators won six Southeastern Conference championships and the 1996 national title under Spurrier. He posted 122 victories over 12 seasons, tormented opponents with his offensive flair and witty one-liners, and left town with the best winning percentage in league history.

Spurrier abruptly left after the 2001 season, taking over the Washington Redskins. Spurrier resigned after two seasons with a 12-20 record.

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