COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Even with a losing season, South Carolina administrators haven't lost confidence in football coach Lou Holtz.
Holtz had his $800,000-a-year contract extended a year through 2007 on Tuesday, three days after finishing a 5-7 season with his third loss in four years to archrival Clemson.
Holtz "is an invaluable asset of the university and our football program," said University of South Carolina President Andrew A. Sorensen. "I look forward to his leadership and his continuing commitment to the development of our student-athletes, both on and off the playing field, for the next five years."
Holtz has had his contract extended to its original five-year deal after each of his four seasons, South Carolina athletic spokesman Kerry Tharp said. Holtz left for his Thanksgiving break at his house in Orlando, Fla., Tharp said.
If anyone needed a break after this season, it was Holtz.
His team looked like it had a certain postseason spot after starting 5-2. However, the Gamecocks offense struggled as the team lost its final five games.
It's Holtz longest losing streak since South Carolina went 0-11 in his first year of 1999. The Gamecocks had won consecutive Outback Bowls against Ohio State and went 17-7 in 2000 and 2001, the best two-year stretch in school history.
It is "disappointing to end the season without a bowl game," Holtz said Monday. "But by the same token, we didn't deserve to go to a bowl."
Holtz's future with South Carolina has been a popular topic among fans and sports-radio callers. Holtz, who'll be 66 in January, said repeatedly he planned on returning to the Gamecocks. Although, on Monday he said "there are some things I've got to address myself."
Athletic director Mike McGee said Holtz has turned around South Carolina's program. Holtz has put together a strong group of assistants led by offensive coordinator Skip Holtz and defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, McGee said.
"We have every confidence that under Coach Holtz's leadership, the football team's progress will continue next year and beyond," McGee said.
Holtz would return in 2003 for his 32nd year as head coach. He had 238 victories, tied for eighth-place all time with Ohio State great Woody Hayes.
Holtz has never had consecutive losing seasons since he began his career at William & Mary and went 3-7, 5-7 and 5-6 from 1969-71.
Holtz was asked if this year's fade meant his program had taken a step back. "You ever watch the stock market," Holtz said, waving his hands up and down. "You have bounces and you bounce back. Now the question is, where do we go from here?"
At least South Carolina administrators took steps to make sure it's Holtz leading the Gamecocks wherever their destination.