Originally created 08/08/99

College notebook: Holtz has USC faithful on edge with bowl hints



Chalk it up to jaded optimism or subtle humor, but Lou Holtz considers a bowl appearance this season a foregone conclusion.

"I just think it's very difficult for us right now, with as much as we have to do, to have a fan day," Holtz said last week when explaining why the Gamecocks' Fan Day won't be held in August as usual. "What we said is, we're going to have fan day between the end of the season and the bowl. We'll have it during our bowl preparation."

DOUBLE TROUBLE:

Georgia coach Jim Donnan said Bulldogs fans might see more two-back sets in the backfield than they've been used to during his three years at the helm.

"It all depends on how the defense plays," said Donnan, who has utilized one-back sets since he took over in 1996. "Two-back helps you run the ball better, but when you get into that scheme, you end up with the other team playing the run more."

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT:

South Carolina running back Boo Williams wasn't terribly concerned when hearing the news of Troy Hambrick's dismissal. It wasn't the first time, after all, that Hambrick was missing.

"It kind of hurt our morale, but we were thinking, `Hey, we did go through spring and we were good without him,"' Williams said of Hambrick, whose academic troubles at the beginning of spring drills led to his suspension. "We're trying to overlook it."

Hambrick, South Carolina's leading rusher the past two seasons, was dismissed recently for breaking unspecified team rules.

Good riddance?

"Troy is one of those guys that you love and you hate at the same time," Williams said. "You could hang around him certain days, but then other days he can just get on your nerves. But that was Troy. You had to love him or hate him.

"Coaches make those decisions for the betterment of teams or to prove a point. Coach Holtz has proved his point that he's serious about everything. Nobody's getting away with anything ... Nobody's bigger than the program."

Williams, also a senior, embraces the opportunity Hambrick's dismissal presented him.

"Everybody always had confidence in me and my running style, but I never got a chance to show it," he said.

FRESH MEAT:

Holtz doesn't know how many freshmen will play this season, but there's a chance the number could surpass his all-time high, 11 at Notre Dame in 1987.

Should the results rival those of Holtz's second season as coach of the Fighting Irish, the Gamecocks have hit the jackpot.

"Rocket Ismail wasn't real bad, Derek Brown wasn't too bad," Holtz said of two Notre Dame stars who helped the Irish win the national title in 1988.

Holtz also mentioned Ted Brown, a freshman he used at N.C. State in 1975.

"He started up at Indiana and ran for about 200 yards," Holtz said of Brown, who later played eight seasons for the Minnesota Vikings. "He went from not making the trip one week to starting the next."

Holtz wasn't about to make any comparisons between Brown and Derek Watson , a celebrated newcomer who was named Mr. Football in South Carolina last season.

"I don't go into a practice with any preconceived ideas," Holtz said. "Let's see who can learn, who can compete, who can do all those things ... Derek Watson has great skills and we expect great things out of him, but we expect great things out of this entire class."

NO SOFTY IN 2000:

To all the flack it has received over removing Florida State from this fall's schedule in favor of Appalachian State, Auburn made a statement by scheduling Texas Tech for its 2000 opener.

It's likely the Tigers added the Big 12 power to strengthen recruiting ties in the state of Texas.

David Housel, the Tigers' athletic director, said Auburn has plans to play Syracuse, Georgia Tech and Clemson in the future.

ACADEMIC CASUALTY:

Michael Waddell, who earned All-America honors while playing at Richmond County (N.C.) High School, will not be allowed to play a North Carolina this fall after he failed to meet standardized test requirements.

Waddell, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound cornerback and kick returner and the crown jewel of North Carolina's 1999 recruiting class, will enroll at the university as a partial qualifier. He'll be able to practice with the Tar Heels but won't be allowed to play in games.

Larry Williams covers college sports for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3645 or at larrywill7@yahoo.com.