Gamecocks coach puts off talk of future

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- What's Lou Holtz going to do next? Depends
if the White House calls.

"I see Secretary of State's open," the 67-year-old South
Carolina coach said Monday.

Don't expect Holtz to succeed Colin Powell. But the question
that's consumed South Carolina fans the past few weeks remains:
Will Holtz return for a seventh season?

"This is not a good time to talk about it, it really isn't,"
Holtz said. "It's just not a good time."

Holtz said all his focus and energy is on helping the Gamecocks
(6-4) beat Clemson (5-5) and not on what's ahead.

Speculation of Holtz's future has come up about this time in
each of his six years at South Carolina. He has generally waited
until after the season to give a thumbs up to supporters.

The past few weeks, though, have vexed even the staunchest
backer trying to figure out what's next.

Holtz has said he was tired and worn out from the season. He
continually makes references to "whoever is the coach next year"
when questioned about his future. Complicating matters are reports
this month that a school representative talked to former Florida
coach Steve Spurrier about returning to college football.

And just when Holtz sounds as good as gone, he'll throw out a
line like, "Don't bury me yet," or "There's no opening at South

Holtz is signed through 2008. However, a clause in his deal lets
him or the university get out of the agreement with five days

Gamecocks defensive end George Gause said Holtz hasn't told the
players anything about next season. "It's his decision and
whatever happens, happens. We just have to go along with it,"
Gause said.

South Carolina athletic director Mike McGee has steadily refused
to talk about Holtz's return.

It's understandable that Holtz wants the focus on the game ahead
this week. Last year, the Gamecocks, needing a victory at home
against Clemson to reach a bowl, instead were blasted 63-17. Holtz
vowed after the game such a debacle would not happen again.

Holtz said it wouldn't have been fair for him to leave last
season -- and leave the program in such a funk. This year, he says,
the Gamecocks are on more solid footing and should be strong for
the next few seasons.

For now, Holtz is trying to cut off the talk about him and make
sure his team is pointed at Clemson.

"I don't want to go down that road because there's only one
thing on my mind right now and only one thing important in this
world right now and that's Clemson, for our seniors and our
football team," Holtz said. "And I don't want to get into
anything else."