Jan. 18, 2008
COLUMBIA, S.C. - University of South Carolina head men's basketball coach Dave Odom announced Friday he is retiring at the end of the 2007-08 season. The announcement was made at an 11 a.m. press conference at the South Carolina Practice Facility. Coach Odom, who has been in college coaching for 43 years, is in his seventh season with the Gamecocks and recently won his 400th career game. He has a 123-94 record at South Carolina and a career heading coach record of 401-268 record (East Carolina, Wake Forest and South Carolina).
Statement from South Carolina Head Basketball Coach Dave Odom:
"Lynn and I share a real fondness and love for Carolina, the Columbia area and the state of South Carolina. We are confident the remainder of this season will be filled with many exciting moments as we will focus all our energy on the remainder of the season. It is our hope and desire that we complete this season on a positive note that builds toward the future. I'm certain we will enjoy revisiting many special memories as we reflect on our time as members of the Gamecock family."
Statement from South Carolina Athletics Director Eric Hyman:
Statements from South Carolina Players
"As a team this is shocking. We are going to pull through this because we are a family. I was shocked and it's hard to believe. I think this is best for the team. Coach knows what is best and with his experience he knows what is best for us."
"We want to finish strong and send the family out right."
"The way he explained it to us, he did what's best for us. He felt like there were a whole lot of people holding a grudge against him, which was affecting the support towards us. If that's how he felt, it was best for the team."
"I go out and play the game. I like for the fans to support us positively. The only thing I can say is for the team, whether we got positive support or negative support, we just have to come out and play."
"Coach Odom is a great guy. It's sad that it's going to end like this. We just have to take care (of things). What I'm going to tell my team is that we have to take this aside. We have 14 more games to turn this around. We're going to let next year worry about next year."
"I'm a good leader so I won't let the team (lose focus). We just had a good win, we're going to get on it and get better. Like I said, when time comes around for the new coach, then (worrying about the new coach) will happen."
"I'm a ball player. Whoever the coach is, just give me the ball and let me play. I'm a ball player. I wish it could have been Coach Odom, but it's not so I'm just focused on finishing this season. I'll worry about the coach whenever the off-season comes. That's when I'll worry about the new coach. I'm getting my guys together, we're going to practice hard and get ready for Florida on Wednesday."
"Right now I'm calm and focused on playing the next game. He'll be here until the end of the season. You have to play the rest of this season to get to the next one."
"I don't know if what he just did will affect (fan support) any. I understand what he said about it though, to just take the pressure off him and people pulling against him. It could help. I understand his point of view too, but I really don't know. We'll see Wednesday."
"Everybody has to do what they have to do for themselves. He said he did it for us and I believe him. I'm still going to listen to him and I support his decision. We'll just see how it goes. This is uncharted waters for me, but I'm going to do whatever I can to make it work."
"I can see us (rallying) because we beat a really good Arkansas team, probably one of the best teams if not the best team in the league. It's not the fact that he's not going to be around. He's done great things in the past."
"I don't blame the fans at all. I think his decision was made between him and his wife. It was something that they've been thinking about since last year."
"It's kind of disappointing that I'll only have him as my coach for one year. Dave Odom is a great coach. He knows what he's doing on the court and what he's doing off the court."
"(Carlos Powell) told me that he was a great coach. He's a great person to listen to when I have problems."
Dave Odom Press Conference Quotes
Head Coach Dave Odom
"One of the things that I have learned about coaching is the most important meeting that you ever have with your basketball team is the first one and the last one. The way you begin the season and the way you end the season and there is no meeting like that last meeting. Once you leave that locker room, it is never the same. I don't care if you have just won the greatest of all championships, once you leave that locker room; it is one of the things that is really special about sport. That's where it happens and that is where relationships form. This is somewhat like that, although I'm not finished."
" That said, I want to start off at the most important point and that is the 14 guys that are seated back here on the right. It's our basketball team. It's not about me. It's not Dave's day. This is our players' day and everything that has been done at this point is with them in mind. It is giving them the best chance to be all that they can be. Every beginning has an end. I am not at the end but I can see it. It's down the road, it is closer. I'm on the backend of not only my career but also my life. But it's not over. There are still things to do, people to affect, a team to minister to, there are things to learn, there are objectives to attain, there are goals to accomplish. By all that is holy, we are going to get after that."
"Let me take you back through a series of events. You can spin it however you want to spin it. I was thinking this morning about a way to approach this. There really are two ways. One is the company way, not the University of South Carolina, but what is traditional. I get up here and I, in my own way, thank the university. I thank the fans, I thank the administration, Eric (Hyman), and I thank my team. All of that is appropriate but there is just so much more to it than that. I have a unique opportunity at this point to make a huge impact on the future of Gamecock Basketball. I think I have a greater opportunity now than if I remained the head coach beyond this year. For I can say things now, my way, that I know to be true, that will help the future. I have nothing to gain from it. I'm not giving coach speak, I'm not telling you what you want to hear, I'm telling you what needs to be heard. I say it, in love for this university and for this basketball team."
"Eric began by saying that he and I had some conversations last spring and I remember those conversations very well. I initiated the first one. I came to him and I said, `Eric I want to talk about me and my future and our basketball team and our program here at the university.' We did. We spent several hours on different occasions doing just that. In consultation with Lynn (Odom) and Lynn only, I thought then that maybe that would be good time for me to step aside and retire. Eric, time and again, `David, take your time, think it through and do what is best for you and do what is best for your team.' So I thought long and hard about it and I took that decision and put it to rest and I went into the summer. Summers are hard for me because I love the game so much and I'm away from the game. It's also hard for me because the demands of college basketball coaching, have become greater in the off-season than they are during the season. You have academics to worry about and you should, that is nothing new but it is more demanding now than ever. In making sure your players get what they need in the summer time, making sure they stay on course for graduation, make sure they stand the value of an education. It keeps me on edge. I want them to have it all. Not just the diploma, not just the degree, I want them to have an education. I think there is a difference. Summers are hard for me."
"I went through the summer and I remember Lynn and I were coming off a trip, we were down at the beach, and I said to her, second week of August, `I don't feel it right now.' Usually by the time I get to August, the sense, the new dawning of a new year are there and I feel it in the pit of my stomach and I'm ready to go. Instead, at that time, I felt, I need more time. I think Eric and I had a conversation in late August and I kind of shared a little bit of that but there was not a lot at that point. At about that time, the players began to come back and it did stir my emotions. The coals did begin to burn again and we went to work. The preseason was fun and we had a new group. I talked to Lynn about it and she said, `We are doing the right thing.' In my own mind, I remember lying in bed at night and I would think, `David you are the right guy to coach this team. You know more about them than anybody else. You know them individually, you know their wants, and you are the right guy to do it. It's a new team. You do what you need to do and you do it the way you know how to do it."
"We went forward. September became October, October (became) November and we started playing some games. Our team is developing and we begin playing away early on. The Orlando trip and things, I felt, were right on schedule. You know, I'm going to try to stop right now and detour just a little bit. I think most of you do know a little bit about me from a personal standpoint. For those of you that may not understand, completely, let me tell you a side of me that I'm going to bear to you. I don't say this in any kind of pride or any other way, I just tell you this is the way it is. I have had a real, what I consider to be, a very healthy and a good relationship with you guys up here on the front (media), cameras. I say good, from the standpoint, that you have been fair. I never asked for any privileges that I didn't deserve. I have only asked that you judge me for who I am and what we have done and what our team has done. I have said to you many times, when we play good, say it, when we play bad, say it, when I coach bad, say it. It's okay. It's okay. That is the business. On occasion, I think because of the relationship that we have had over seven years, I don't know why but I have always felt that you were respectful in dealing with me and I want you to know that I appreciated that. I didn't take that lightly. I appreciated that. I don't know if we have ever had a difficult exchange. I've always felt that in most cases, you have been reluctant to ask me difficult questions about my life and my career. On occasion, one of you would kind of buckle your belt a little tighter and you would say, well you know its out there and I would say back to you, `I'm sure it is but I'm unaffected by it.' And that's the point. There will be those, through you, that will stick their chest out and say, `We got it done. We were loud and we were angry and our voice was heard and a change was made.' I will tell you, without any fear of contradiction, those people could not be further from the truth."
"Eric Hyman, on any number of occasions, said, `You do what you feels is right and I'll fight with you right to the end. You got two more years beyond this year, you want it, you take it and we'll fight it through.' You spin it the way you want it, but I'm telling you that is what he told me."
"What is all this about? It's about the first thing that I mentioned to you. The most important group in this room is our team. When I walked into the Colonial Center, two (of the) last three of our home games. As you know, I go out for early warm-up and I have always done that since I was a player. My guys back there don't think I ever played, but I did. I remember going out, as a young player, I remember the national anthem being played and the last thing I ever did was before the tip-off was to find my mother in the stands somewhere. I always looked for her and I saw her and I knew everything was okay. That is why I go out early, I guess I'm kinda looking for my mother, or Lynn, if you will. I want to feel the atmosphere in the building. I want to feel the ambience of what is going out there. I don't want to sit in the dressing room by myself and wait till tip-off, and walk out 30 seconds with a nice looking suit on, promenading to some crazy music because the game is played between the lines and the atmosphere inside that building decides in large part how the game is played. When I walked in the Colonial Center, remember now, I have been in a few arenas in my life, I knew a difference. There was a difference there. Though the feeling of a small part of fans, and I do believe this with all my heart, we, I, have had wonderful support from the fans, the Gamecock fans, in this town and in this state, wonderful support, that is usually true, those who love you most let you know in the quietest of ways. Those that feel anger are unrest in the loudest of ways. As a society we are all part of that. We all cater to what is in vogue at the time. When I got to that arena, on those different nights, and I didn't feel that the arena was excited to see our team play, more than that, I didn't feel that the arena was excited to help our team play. So, I had a couple of conversations again with Lynn and I went to see Eric around January 1, well, shortly after the calendar year changed. I said, `Eric I am getting closer.' He said, `What do you mean?' I said, `I think it may be in the team's best interest to make a decision, an announcement about will I coach next year or will I not coach next year.' He said, `Why do you think that?' I said, `Because I think if you take me out of the equation, the voices of dissent can now use their energy in total support of our basketball team and give them the best chance to be all that they can be this year."
"We went to Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville (at Vanderbilt), Wednesday a week ago and we started the SEC season. I took Lynn with us. I want you to know that Lynn Odom has been, violently at times, against me doing what I am doing today. If it hadn't been for her, it probably would have been done sooner. I took Lynn with us for one reason; she had been there before. I wanted her to feel what it was like, there, that night, to open the SEC season. There were 14,000 fans, complete sellout, students were back and the atmosphere in that building, that night, was electric beyond words. And I want to tell you, our team responded. I mean I can see them now, 14 strong and they took that whole crowd on. Their players, their team, their fans, they took them on, right to the end. I didn't say much to her and we got back home and she said, `Well that was interesting.' Of course, we then played Tennessee and we played poorly."
"I got her ready again and I told her, `Get on this plane, we are going to Arkansas.' I have been there since I was an assistant at Virginia. I know the Arkansas fans are rabid as they are all over in the SEC. We got there and there was 18,000 people waiting on us. Once again, our team, put their arms together, and they took them all on. The noise was loud, the music loud, the girls, cheerleaders, came out of the stands, here comes the band, the flags are waving and our players played. Our players played and (we) won. I, in talking with Lynn before that, I said, `You know it's not about me or us. It's about giving our players the best chance to place and feel that atmosphere.' Because it is here. It is in this state. There is no passion like the passion for the Gamecocks, there is not. I just feel that the best way for our team to feel that is for me to remove any clouds that might impair the visions of those that love the Gamecocks. And let them know that their voice should be heard in a positive way. And that we have the greatest of opportunities; the remainder of this season. It is absolutely there in front of us. Our team can play the way it played in Arkansas and in Vanderbilt, in the Colonial Center. But to do that, we have got to have our fans. We have to have our students. We have to have everybody pulling for our guys and not against me. So therefore, it's right that this decision be made. It is right, that we talk about it today. It is right that we do it openly, and not by the book. "
"I am the most fortunate, lucky person that I know anywhere. I told our team that this morning. We have two and a half months or more, depending on how you do in March, to make history. They have had my best effort for seven years. The difference now, is simply this, unlike my staff of assistants, who I love dearly, every single one of them and unlike our players, as of April 1, I have no worries. I don't have to be anywhere. I don't have to do anything. I can do what I want. So therefore, I don't have any plans to make. Every single, waking moment, every minute between now and when that last ball bounces and that last whistle blows and that last horn sounds and that last arena empties, will be spent, doing what I do best and that is get on that basketball court, between them lines, and kick their butts when they need it, and love them the rest of the time. All of the time, making sure that they know the Gamecocks love them, and that is way it is going to be."
"We practice today at 3:30 and none of you are invited. The doors are going to be closed and it is going to be high level. It will be high level, believe me. When we go into that arena (Colonial Center) (next) Wednesday night (vs. Florida), I expect our team to play at a high level. They owe it to themselves and they owe it to the Gamecock fans. And they owe it to this university. In return, our fans owe it to them as well. Not to me, they owe it to them. You put those two together, and their will be special memories between now and April 1st. Believe me."
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