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The Thread: You Say Goodbye, and I Say Hello

Money money money money. Money. Spurrier's getting more of it. Unless, of course, he goes to Miami. Or Alabama. Or Texas A&M. Or LSU. Or...

Ellis Johnson's contract is pretty nice, too.

Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson received a three-year deal worth $350,000 a year, making the Winnsboro native the highest-paid assistant coach in any sport in school history. ...

Johnson's contract includes four incentive clauses. The former Citadel coach will receive:

• $10,000 if the Gamecocks finish in the top six in the SEC in total defense;

• an additional $10,000 if they finish in the top three in the conference in total defense;

• $25,000 if USC wins the SEC East and $50,000 if it wins the SEC championship.

According to the buyout, Johnson would receive his $200,000 base salary for each year remaining on his deal if he is fired without cause. The 56-year-old Johnson would owe USC the same amount if he breaks the contract, but would pay the school nothing if he leaves for a collegiate head-coaching position.

Meanwhile, Susan Walvius might get $125,000 next year. That would be the buyout in her contract.

Asked about Walvius' future, Hyman said: "That's a personnel issue and that's something that will be discussed at the end of the year."

Could he coach the women's team, too? Morris makes sure that Alex English isn't forgotten in the search for the next head coach for the basketball team. Even if English would really like to stay in the Association.

"That's my goal. That's why I'm here, to be a head coach in the NBA," English said. "It's been a long journey, and I feel it's very possible. It could happen soon. Over the six years that I have been here, I've learned a lot and I feel that I could do a great job as a head coach."

Still, English admits to a certain level of fascination with the USC coaching job. He is a Columbia native who graduated from Dreher High School. He earned his degree from USC and served on the USC board of trustees for three years in the late 1990s. ...

Those Columbia and South Carolina roots would go a long way in recruiting a state that has been difficult over the years for USC basketball coaches to cultivate for talent.

"Over the years, we have lost a little of our zest there," English said, speaking of USC. "I think whoever the candidate is, he's got to be able to go out and recruit players that are top-quality players and very interested in being part of the university, and players that can take them to the next level and keep them there." ...

Once players are on board, English said coaching is a matter of teaching. He said his work in the NBA has helped sharpen his teaching skills because so many young players enter pro ball lacking proper technique in many phases of the game. ...

At age 53, English might have aged himself out of contention. Plus, he has no college coaching experience. ...

It seems to me English at least deserves a chance to present his case for the job. If nothing else, he could be a strong fallback candidate for Hyman and USC.

I agree with Morris. (Yes, readers, bookmark this page for posterity.) Even if English were to come in, coach for four or five years and then go back to the NBA, it could be helpful. Imagine it: The legendary player comes back, recruits well, gets things started and then heads to the NBA, leaving the job open and attractive to a young candidate who at least wants to keep the option of the NBA open. Or to a young candidate who wants to make a good team great.

Again, that's a lot of "ifs." But anybody you're going to get to come to Columbia is going to be a gamble at this point. Why not gamble with someone who's already part of Gamecock history?

Hyman's not talking. Though he has two interesting criteria -- one that helps English, one that hurts.

• The next coach likely will be a current coach, rather than an assistant coach at a major program. In Hyman’s previous job at Texas Christian, he hired basketball coach Neil Dougherty off of Kansas’ staff.

• Hyman refused to limit himself to any region or level of experience. He said he would love to hire a USC alumnus, or someone with experience in the SEC or the Southeast.

Because there are so many people that fit those standards.

Tom Price, 1926-2008. Don't know who Tom Price was? If you didn't ... well, until his death, I didn't either. If so, shame on both of us.

Price's love for USC was infectious. "He instilled in me a passion for the Gamecocks that I'll carry the rest of my life," said Kerry Tharp, part of USC's sports information staff for 20 years and now NASCAR's director of communications in Charlotte.

"He used to say, 'My two favorite words in the English language are ... 'Cocks win.'"

Amen. If only they could be spoken a few times more.

Thoughts and prayers to the family.