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Odom's End

If being a nice person and a good man qualified you to be a basketball coach, there's little doubt that Dave Odom would have been a good basketball coach. Unforunately, winning games makes you a good basketball coach. And during his time in South Carolina, Odom didn't do enough of that.

The many squats
of Dave Odom

So few were surprised Friday when Odom announced he will retire at the end of the year.

When Odom came to South Carolina, there was reason to believe he was the right choice. He had some success at Wake Forest. The numbers at South Carolina, though, just weren't there.

In that time he got the Gamecocks to the NCAA tournament once, and it is nearly impossible that he will reach the dance this year. The team went to the NIT three times, and is on the ropes in that regard this year. The Gamecocks did become the first team to win back-to-back NIT titles since that tournament was the major postseason event. But teams who win the NIT nowadays usually progress to the NCAA tournament the next year, unless they seriously regress.

In truth, Odom's career at South Carolina might be looked at in a different way if he had made the NCAA tourney more often. He was a good coach in tournament situations. But you have to get there, and the Gamecocks got bounced in the first round of their only visit.

Bob Spear makes some good points in highlighting the McGuire legacy. It feels at some points like an apologist piece, but it makes an inadvertent point:

In the McGuire days, South Carolina won in the ACC. Why can't this team win the SEC, which for all it's progress is still not in the same level of the atmosphere as the ACC.

That is part of the job for a new head coach, but there is another.

Questions about Eric Hyman's judgment, though, still lingers. This is a decision that should have been made last year. When Odom's instead received a contract extension, I got an e-mail from a Florida blogger that began with a question along the lines of, "Has your AD just given up on having a quality basketball program?"

My response was that it was a good question. I was going from a casual fan of South Carolina basketball -- I've never been big on roundball -- to an apathetic fan. Why watch when you know the result? Always coming up short, making a sort of art out of mediocrity.

And Odom's public flirtation with the Virginia job in 2005 was humiliating for the program. It was almost like he was eager to leave South Carolina at the first chance he got. Some speculated that Odom was Virginia's second choice, but it seemed clear that South Carolina was his second choice.

Hyman can make up for the lost year by getting a quality coach to replace Odom. Not one who wins the NCAA every year, or even gets there every year, but one who makes the Gamecocks' appearances routine instead of rare.

It will be the first hire Hyman will make for one of the "big three" programs (football, basketball, baseball).

It's time for Hyman to prove he can do better at his job than Odom did at his.


Odom's retirement: Good or bad for South Carolina?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    Good. Enough's enough
    (20 votes)
  • 18%
    Bad. Who, exactly, are you going to get to do better?
    (7 votes)
  • 18%
    Neither. He needed to go, but who knows what we'll get
    (7 votes)
  • 8%
    Too early to tell
    (3 votes)
37 votes total Vote Now