We had an exciting Friday as Ray Tanner was named the new Athletics Director at South Carolina last week. The news continued today as Chad Holbrook was officially introduced as the new head baseball coach in a press conference at Williams-Brice Stadium.
"This job as South Carolina's head baseball coach could have attracted many of the top coaches across the country, but the best man and the best coach for this job is already here," said Tanner in his opening statement. "He's a great recruiter and evaluator of talent. He will be a great ambassador for the University of South Carolina."
Holbrook had several emotional moments at the podium. With three rows of his extended family seated in the audience, Holbrook took the opportunity to thank many of the people who have helped him get to this point, including colleagues at his last coaching stop at UNC, his father (a former college basketball coach), Ray Tanner, and his wife and children. He said this wasn't just the right opportunity, but "the perfect opportunity" and "a 19-year dream come true."
Holbrook included a lot of praise for Tanner in his comments, saying that the beloved coach has "given me the blueprint on how to run a college baseball program," and thanking him for the trust and confidence Tanner has shown him.
"I'm not up here to try to replace Ray Tanner; I can't. No one can," said Holbrook. "I can only be the best Chad Holbrook that I can be."
"But when we have to make difficult decisions in the course of a game, I'm going to have a bracelet. And on that bracelet it's going to have initials - W.W.R.D. What Would Ray Do?"
Holbrook also announced two coaching promotions coinciding with him moving into the head coaching position. Current assistant Jerry Meyers will be Holbrook's Associate Head Coach, continuing to oversee the Gamecocks' pitchers, and Sammy Esposito will become a full time assistant coach working with catchers and infielders. Holbrook said Esposito's former volunteer assistant position will be filled at a later date, likely closer to the start of fall practice. Esposito and Holbrook will "take the bull by the horns" and share the bulk of the recruiting duties.
Asked whether there was any apprehension with replacing Tanner, a legendary coach who has had so much success, Holbrook said he looks at it differently.
"It's an honor that a legend has asked me to replace him. That's the best compliment I've ever received as a baseball coach."
Click here to watch the full press conference video, see the full release and photo gallery.