Originally created 11/24/98

Scott fired as South Carolina coach



COLUMBIA -- The coaching carousel at South Carolina has opened its doors again.

Less than 48 hours after South Carolina closed its worst season in 105 years of football, Brad Scott was fired as head coach on Monday.

Athletics director Mike McGee alluded to a number of "factors and trends" that weighed heavily in the decision. While he would not elaborate, a slew of trends have been gaining steam.

Under Scott, the Gamecocks have gone 1-15-1 against ranked teams, 2-28-1 versus teams that finished the season with a winning record, and 1-14 against Georgia, Tennessee and Florida -- the three teams atop the SEC East.

"Our program's lack of satisfactory progress and our inability to successfully compete within the Southeastern Conference led to this decision," McGee said.

Scott, however, felt that one dismal season -- the 1-10 campaign that ended Saturday with a 28-19 loss to Clemson -- wiped out four years of progress.

"To say it was looked at over a five-year period, I don't think that's the case," said the 44-year-old Scott. "It might have been looked at over a two-year period. But I really believe it came down to being one and 10."

Scott had three years remaining on a contract that paid him $150,000 annually. The university will absorb the $450,000 along with a $275,000 loan that was not supposed to be forgiven unless Scott coached through 2002.

The search for a replacement has begun, and McGee has already asked for permission to speak with Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer. But the biggest name tossed around in Columbia is former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, who currently works at CBS. Last Saturday he sidestepped questions about the USC job. Colorado State coach Sonny Lubbick, Marshall coach Bob Pruett and Ole Miss coach Tommy Tuberville have also been mentioned.

"With a goal in mind of an SEC Championship, we will seek leadership who can take us to that level, which we believe we can achieve," McGee said.

McGee's recommendation to fire Scott went to University president John Palms on Friday, even before USC closed its season against Clemson. Palms accepted the recommendation, and McGee and Scott met for 90 minutes Monday morning.

Scott visited with his players later in the afternoon, calling it "toughest meeting I've ever had."

He then addressed the media with his wife, Daryle, and two sons, Jeff and John. Scott choked back tears as his eyes welled on a couple of occasions. But through it he kept his sense of humor.

"I think you produced the only break this team got this season," Scott said to his wife, who broke her foot while navigating the stands at Ole Miss.

While he acknowledged that five years is the expected window to turn around a program, Scott said, "I don't think that's enough time. Not in this conference, not in this division and not in this program."

The trouble began this season in week three, when the Gamecocks fell to Marshall on the game's final play. It continued with a troubling loss to Vanderbilt before closing Saturday with a 10th straight loss -- against arch-rival Clemson.

Many of the players said they felt responsible for the decision.

"Especially in my case, where we had four or five games come down to field goals," said Leavitt, who missed seven straight field goals at one point. "Coach Scott took some of that responsibility off us. But whether we feel responsible or not, we've got to put that behind us."

Scott was a hotshot young offensive coordinator when he was hired away from Florida State five years ago in the wake of the Seminoles national championship.

In his first season in Columbia, Scott led the Gamecocks to their only bowl win. Donations reached a record amount during his tenure, Williams-Brice sold out before each of the last two seasons and the team's academic and graduation rose substantially. But he won just once in his last 14 outings.

"I get to go into the record books twice, I guess, for the first bowl win and the worst season the history of the university," Scott said. "That's one extreme to the other."

The latter eventually cost him a job.

Scott's coaching history

Overall 23-32-1

Home 12-19-1

Away 10-13

vs. SEC 11-26-1

1998 -- 1-10

1997 -- 5-6

1996 -- 6-5

1995 -- 4-6-1

1994 -- 7-5

Coaching experience

-- DeSoto County (Fla.) High, assistant, 1979

-- Hardee County (Fla.) High, assistant, 1980-81

-- The Citadel, graduate assistant, 1981-82

-- Florida State, graduate assistant, 1983-85

-- Florida State, recruiting coordinator/tight ends, 1985-90

-- Florida State, offensive coordinator/offensive line, 1990-93

-- South Carolina, head coach, 1993-98

Todd Graff can be reached at (706) 823-3645 or tgraff@augustachronicle.com.