The Lou Holtz Bear










Coach Lou Holtz on the sidelines at Williams-Brice Stadium.

In the year 2001, Lou Holtz reinforced the fact that he is one of college football's most successful coaches and may be the premier program builder in the history of the sport. In just his second season at the University of South Carolina, Coach Holtz led the Gamecock program to the most remarkable turnaround season in the long and storied history of Southeastern Conference football.

From a winless record in 1999 to an Outback Bowl victory and place in the final top 20 national poll, Coach Holtz has elevated Gamecock football to a level unprecedented in the 107 years the school has fielded a varsity team.

The man who has taken four different programs to top 20 finishes, won a national championship and National coach of the year honors, and guided teams to 22 postseason bowl games, may have done one of his best coaching jobs this past fall. As a result, Coach Holtz was named SEC Coach of the Year, AFCA Region 2 Coach of the Year, and received National Coach of the Year honors from Football News and American Football Coach Quarterly. The Gamecocks entered the new millennium riding a 21- game losing streak - the nation's longest - and had been mired in mediocrity for the majority of the past decade. The transformation that occurred was well chronicled and could very well have been the biggest story in college football last season. Carolina earned its way to play Florida in a winner take all game for the SEC Eastern Division title, while posting a winning record in the SEC for the first time since the program began competing in the league in 1992. A group of individuals grew into a team and displayed a remarkable poise and togetherness that is critical in performing at a championship level.

Coach Holtz has become the only Coach in NCAA history to ever lead six different programs to bowl games and likewise has become the only coach to ever guide four different programs to final top 20 rankings.

Along the way, Gamecock fans have become even more well-known for their loyal support. Record crowds were the norm at Williams-Brice Stadium, as USC averaged a school record 81,904 in 2000 including a single-game mark of 84,2000 for the game against Tennessee. The enthusiasm surrounding Coach Holtz's turnaround of the program has spread like wildfire across the state and beyond and the Gamecock support base has never been more firm. 

The national media attention that has reported on Coach Holtz and the Gamecock team has given the program coast to coast coverage like never before. National television networks, including CBS Sports, ESPN, ABC Sports, CNN/SI and Fox Sports have all visited the USC campus to tell the story about the national championship coach who is working towards developing a consistent winner in Columbia.

Coach Holtz has been a builder of programs throughout his illustrious 29 years as a collegiate head coach. First at William & Mary...then at North Carolina State...then at Arkansas...then at Minnesota...then at Notre Dame and now at South Carolina. At all six universities, Holtz has led those programs to a post season bowl game by his second season at the helm, and regularly has produced winning teams that also record superlative graduation rates. 

Coach Holtz was named head coach at USC December 4, 1998, at a press conference attended by an overflow media contingent and more than 4,000 Gamecock fans at Williams-Brice Stadium. While the 1999 campaign may have been short on victories, the groundwork was laid as Coach Holtz and his staff instilled a newfound attitude into the Gamecock squad. The team learned how to fight through the tough times and discovered the sacrifices that must be made in order to achieve success. The manner in which Coach Holtz handled his own personal adversity in 1999, with his wife's illness and the loss of his mother was further evidence of the strong value and rock solid foundation that Coach's philosophy of life and coaching principles are built on.

Coach Holtz is the third winningest active head coach with 228 victories and 11th all-time, while his 11 bowl game victories rank fifth on the all-time list. Prior to coming to South Carolina, Holtz served as a college football analyst for CBS Sports for two years. Most recently, he was the ultra successful head coach at Notre Dame for 11 season from 1986-1996, where he rekindled the football fortunes of one of the country's most prestigious programs, claiming the national championship in 1988 and leading the Fighting Irish to nine consecutive New Year's Day Bowl games.

During the 2001 season, Coach Holtz has kept the momentum going and has led the Gamecock to a 5-0 record, including a thrilling come from behind victory over conference rival Alabama. The Carolina team defeated the Tide for the first time in their history, scoring twice the forth quarter to win 37-36.

From the 2001 South Carolina Football Media Guide.

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