Originally created 11/09/99

Holtz says he's staying at USC



COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Forget what you read, heard, saw on the Internet or were told by your neighbor's uncle's barber's friend who's a big South Carolina fan and knows what's going on -- Lou Holtz is staying with the Gamecocks.

Despite South Carolina's struggles and his distaste for losing, Holtz said Monday he would not bail out as coach after one season.

"It sort of boggles my mind when people say that I'm going to leave," Holtz said. "People who say I'm going to leave don't know Lou Holtz, or I don't know myself."

He surely did not know the Gamecocks would be 0-9 and have a 19-game losing streak, the country's longest. But he knew it would be hard to right a program that's been scuttled several times during the school's 107 seasons of football.

"Yes, it has been difficult, but there's no way in this world I would walk away from something like this," he said.

Where do rumors like this start? Maybe on television, where ESPN analyst Lee Corso speculated that the 62-year-old Holtz was too old and too successful to handle South Carolina's mess.

"I don't know why he made that comment," Holtz said. "Maybe I'm in uncharted waters and why do I need this? I could go down there and play golf. But that's not for me. I want to be here."

Holtz has missed his wife, Beth, who is recovering from surgery in Orlando, Fla. She is planning to come to Columbia Wednesday and stay through Thanksgiving. Her health has been mentioned as a reason Holtz might go.

On the Internet, where fans pick over every decision Holtz has made, a chat room post this past Friday had two men at a San Francisco airport discussing Holtz's book "Winning Every Day" and one saying to the other, "What was he thinking coming out of retirement to coach at that school in South Carolina?"

"People making that comment, I don't know where they get that," Holtz said.

South Carolina offensive coordinator Skip Holtz said someone told him the other day that his dad had taken on too much and was heading back to the TV booth. "For people to say that, they don't know him," Skip said.

One Internet rumor had LSU looking at Skip for the coaching job there.

"Skip ain't going anywhere," Holtz said. "I don't expect him to. He's never uttered anything about it."

Skip Holtz said after Monday's practice that he came here from Connecticut so his children could be near his parents. "Those reasons are still here," he said. "It would have be an unbelievably unique situation for me to leave here."

Quarterback Phil Petty, who'll return to action from a knee injury this week, says the Holtzes have reconfirmed their commitments to the players. "I'm not worried about them leaving," he said. "I think they'll be here a long time."

One of the most asked questions when Holtz, who won a national title at Notre Dame, came here was, "Why?"

Holtz has been a master at bringing stagnant programs to new heights. He certainly could have waited for a position with better prospects, but he says he saw winners, and the resources to win, at South Carolina.

He sees all the young players he has had to start because of injuries and attrition coming back with more experience next year. He hopes a second recruiting class will add a layer of depth.

"I wouldn't want to go through this too many times, but some positives can come from this season," Holtz said.