Whether it’s as a football player, a coach, a legislator, an attorney, or a member of the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees; Chuck Allen has worn a lot of different hats. Now he can add “Hall of Famer” to his resume.
“I’m extremely humbled,” Allen said when learning he is one of eight members of the 2017 class for the University of South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame sponsored by the Association of Lettermen. “It’s very gratifying to be selected for such an honor by the University of South Carolina.”
Allen (1977-80) was a defensive tackle and team captain for South Carolina, and he helped the Gamecocks reach the Hall of Fame Bowl in 1979 and the Gator Bowl in 1980. Since then he has been a tireless supporter of South Carolina Athletics and the University, which coincides with his efforts as a member of the Board of Trustees since 2008. But there’s a lot more to his story.
With many college offers on the table coming out of high school, the Anderson, S.C., native chose to stay close to home.
“Coach Jim Carlen really appealed to me with the idea of being a native of the state and staying here to play,” Allen said. “There was a chance to really do some things and make a difference at the University of South Carolina.
“We had a couple of really good teams. The ’79 and ’80 seasons were of course my highlight. The Michigan win was historic when we won up in Ann Arbor in 1980. In 1979, we won eight games in an 11-game season. That was the first time it had been done in the modern history at South Carolina. We did it again in 1980, and we probably should have won 10 games. One of our teammates (George Rogers) winning the Heisman was also a highlight for all of us.”
Allen earned accolades of his own, including Honorable Mention All-America honors, and he was named to the All-South Independent team (South Carolina was not affiliated with a conference at the time). He was also selected to the Blue/Gray All-Star game.
I’m confident that Coach Muschamp will be successful. I believe we have the resources and the leadership to win a national championship in football.Chuck Allen
Allen married while he was still in school and was starting a family, which meant he had a lot to think about when starting the next phase of his life. He signed as a rookie free agent with the Washington Redskins after his senior year, and the following year he signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos. Allen had been accepted into the USC School of Law that year and was also doing well enough to still be with Denver in the later parts of training camp, which meant he might have to make a tough decision.
“I was hanging on with the Broncos and having a good camp,” Allen said. “The start of classes with law school was approaching. After conferring with the head coach, which was [former Gamecock] Dan Reeves at the time, I decided it was in my family’s best interest for me to head back east and enroll in classes. I was in Colorado on a Tuesday morning, and that Thursday morning I was back in Columbia for my first law class.
“It was a difficult decision because I was having a good camp. I was kind of hoping I would just get cut so I wouldn’t have to make that decision. The ‘turk’ is what we would call the guy who would tell you to get your play book and report to the head coach, which meant you were going to get cut. I almost hung around all of that Monday morning at breakfast because I was hoping to be released so I wouldn’t have to make that decision myself. Being married and having a child, I had two opportunities in front of me, but I couldn’t come up empty on both of them. I knew I had better go the safer route.”
While he would go on to earn plenty of success as a lawyer, there were still other passions that grabbed his attention along the way. With his playing days over, Allen began coaching at a local high school to help pay his tuition and books for law school.
“I did have the coaching bug,” Allen said. “I thoroughly enjoyed coaching. I enjoyed it as much or even more than playing, and I loved playing!”
While he was clerking for a judge, he later created an opportunity to be the defensive line coach at Furman.
“Jimmy Satterfield was hired at Furman, and he didn’t have his own staff yet,” Allen recalled. “Without any prior communication with Coach Satterfield, I drove from the Greenwood County courthouse to the campus at Furman and walked in unannounced and asked to speak to the head coach. He allowed me to speak with him, and I told him I was interested in being his defensive line coach. Long story short, he told me he would give me fair consideration. Low and behold, he called the next week and offered me the job. I was that naïve and unsophisticated, I just walked in. That was quite a coaching staff.”
Allen coached for two years with the Paladins and laughs because Furman won the national championship the year after he left. For the record, he has no plans of walking into South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp’s office to ask for a job.
“I’m too old now,” Allen laughed. “With my blood pressure, I’d probably blow a fuse.”
In 1998, Allen ran for public office and was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives.
“I just always had a sincere interest and commitment to public service,” Allen said. “That was what motivated me.”
That sense of duty carried over to his appointment to the University’s Board of Trustees, where he has served since 2008.
“For the University of South Carolina, being an alumnus and a former student-athlete, I have an intense interest in seeing the University being advanced,” Allen said. “I love the University and love to see it realize its potential.
“I’m thrilled to be so fortunate to have served over the last decade when we’ve had unparalleled athletics and academic successes. I consider myself immensely fortunate that my service coincided with that. I also have a personal goal that we win the national championship in football. Just a couple of years ago we finished fourth in the nation. I’m confident that Coach Muschamp will be successful. I believe we have the resources and the leadership to win a national championship in football.”
With all of that on his plate, Allen still lives in his hometown of Anderson, S.C., where he raised his three children and still enjoys his practice.
“I thoroughly enjoy courtroom practice,” Allen said. “Cases in front of juries are probably my favorite. It’s similar to a competitive athletic event. It can be very similar in intensity level. I enjoy the interaction with people from all walks of life. It’s very rewarding.”