CLEMSON, S.C. (ESPN.com news services) -- Lou Holtz's final regular-season game for
South Carolina was one he'll probably want to forget.
Reggie Merriweather had three touchdowns and a career-high 125
yards to lead Clemson to a 29-7 victory Saturday over the Gamecocks
in a game marred by a fourth-quarter brawl between the teams.
The 67-year-old Holtz told his team Thursday he'd retire after
this season, reportedly clearing the way for Steve Spurrier to take
over in 2005. The official announcement about Holtz is expected
"You'd have to not know that President Bush was re-elected not
to know what my plans are," Holtz said.
Several Gamecocks said the coach told them in the meeting that
Spurrier is coming to Columbia. The official announcement about
Holtz is expected Monday.
"That's like going from J-Lo to Halle Berry," South Carolina
tackle Na'shan Goddard said. "We're getting a real good dude."
Spurrier, attending the Duke-North Carolina game, would not
comment on what's ahead.
Holtz had pointed to this game since last November when the
Gamecocks were run out of Williams-Brice Stadium, 63-17. He said it
was the most embarrassed he'd ever been and vowed it would not
Instead, he lost to the Gamecocks' in-state rival for the fifth
time in six seasons.
"That's one of the biggest disappointments," Holtz said. "At
the same time, there's no excuse for it."
While the final margin wasn't as bad as a year ago, the
Gamecocks (6-5) were dominated again.
Holtz, in a black South Carolina windshirt and garnet ball cap,
paced the Death Valley sidelines. Nothing he thought of worked
against the Tigers.
Merriweather had a 12-yard TD as Clemson (6-5) took the
second-half kickoff and drove 80 yards to make it 20-7.
Emotions on both sides spun out of control late in the fourth
quarter with a sidelines-clearing fight that delayed the game for
about 10 minutes before coaches, police and security officers got
things under control.
"I got a little scraped up, a couple of scratches," said
Clemson cornerback Justin Miller, who tussled with South Carolina
receiver Matthew Thomas. "Once I saw a couple of big guys come by
me, I got out of there."
Holtz and Clemson coach Tommy Bowden both said they would look
at tapes of the fight and take possible action. Clemson athletic
director Terry Don Phillips said the ACC would also review the
fight to see if penalties had to be handed out.
"For 24 hours they've watched that basketball fiasco on TV," Bowden said after the game. "That's all they've watched. And that's on 24 hours a day, every major news program.
"And that thing was covered, and they've watched it, watched it, watched it," Bowden said.
"You saw it at the basketball game last night," Clemson
quarterback Charlie Whitehurst said, referring to the brawl between
the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers. "You hate that it happens,
but it does sometime."
Clemson running back Yusef Kelly said the brawl doesn't compare with Friday night's melee at the Pistons-Pacers game.
"It's no worse than the Pacers and Pistons last night. They actually got the fans involved. At least we kept it to the football teams," he said.
Holtz dove into the pile as peacemaker, trying to peel much
bigger bodies from the situation. "Hey, he's our daddy," guard
Jonathan Alston said. "If he was our father, we'd all get
beatings" for the fight.
Clemson became bowl eligible for the sixth straight year under
There's one more game for Holtz, too, before he ends his
33-season career. It could be the Peach or Independence bowls,
depending on how the rest of the Southeastern Conference shakes
Holtz stands eighth in career victories with 249. He's 33-37 at
South Carolina. This one was bad from the start for the Gamecocks.
Cory Boyd fumbled away the opening kickoff and Clemson's Steven
Jackson recovered on the South Carolina 9. Two plays later,
Merriweather rushed in from 3 yards to put the Tigers up 7-0 only 6
seconds into the game.
Merriweather added a 7 yard touchdown run two series later and
South Carolina could not recover.
The Gamecocks didn't get a first down until 10:37 was left in
the second quarter. They punted nine times, five of those after
About the only good thing for the Gamecocks came on Syvelle
Newton's desperation heave for a touchdown. With South Carolina
facing 3-and-14 and the prospect of giving the ball up again,
Newton scrambled away from two Clemson pass rushers and launched
the ball nearly 60 yards in the air. Boyd turned to the right to
catch the ball, held off defensive backs Tye Hill and Jamaal Fudge,
and fell into the end zone to make it 14-7.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.