By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 31, 2001
TAMPA -- When South Carolina made its first bowl appearance in five years in last season's Outback Bowl, all eyes were on coach Lou Holtz.
Holtz said his players, all lacking bowl experience, looked to him for guidance and direction.
Now, he said, they're looking to themselves.
"I'm not the leader of this team anymore," he said. "I'm still the one in authority, but the leaders of this team are our seniors. They resolve a lot of problems before they happen.
"A year ago, everybody sort of sat around and waited to see what I was going to do, but now they've been there, they know how we do things. They talk to the younger players about what needs to be done."
That has started to rub off on the underclassmen, to Holtz's great pleasure.
"To watch freshmen become unselfish and part of the team and watch their work habits develop, it's like night and day," he said. "When I say I'm not the leader anymore, I mean it. Our seniors have taken over the leadership and hopefully the juniors are learning."
NO PROBLEM: Holtz said there have been no behavioral problems with his players.
"This has been the easiest team I've ever worked with," he said. "If I coached a group of retired priests, I'd have a more difficult time than what I've had with this group."
Last season's most infamous disciplinary infraction came when several players did not wear ties to a Broadway show as required by Holtz. They ran sprints after practice.
Last week, Holtz said that if any players missed curfew, the media would know about it because he would announced their dismissals from the team.
Then Holtz joked: "When you make curfew six in the morning you don't get a lot of violations."