New Gamecock Coaches Stroll Down Memory Lane

The members of South Carolina's new coaching staff may not know every hot spot in Columbia just yet.

However, they're no strangers to their new Saturday office. 

From championships to noise to comebacks, the new Gamecock coaches all have vivid memories of Williams-Brice Stadium. 

Special teams coordinator and linebackers coach Coleman Hutzler came to Columbia five seasons ago as a member of the Florida Gators staff and is looking forward to being a part of the atmosphere once again. 

 "I'm excited about it," said Hutzler, who coached at Florida from 2010-11 and again in 2014. "I came here in 2011 and the place was rocking [South Carolina defeated the Gators 17-12]. The support here from the fan base and everybody around is tremendous and I can't wait for that opening kickoff in the first home game."

Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper has been on the opposing sideline in Williams-Brice six times (1996, '98, '06 with Tennessee; 1999, '04 with Ole Miss; 2005 with Kentucky) in the past 20 seasons. He recalled the atmosphere affecting more than just game days. 

"You have to spend your week getting prepared for not being able to hear when you play in this stadium," Roper said. "This place is a hard place for an opponent to come in and win because of the passion of these fans. You're not going to be able to communicate verbally and that gives us such a huge advantage here."

Tight ends coach Pat Washington's memories of Williams-Brice are positive for him, but sour for Gamecock fans.

"I was at Missouri [in 2014 as the wide receivers coach], we were down throughout the whole game and came back and scored late and kicked the extra point," said Washington, recalling Missouri's 21-20 comeback win. "I think Coach Spurrier is kicking himself in the butt for not going for two during that game because we kicked the extra point and won the game. That was payback, because the year before we were up  17-0 and they kicked our butt in the other Columbia."

Washington also witnessed history in Williams-Brice Stadium as an SEC East rival in 1998.

"I was at Tennessee [as the wide receivers coach] and Tee Martin was our quarterback and I think he completed 22 or 24 passes in a row [it was 23 en route to an NCAA record 23-of-24 performance in a 49-14 Volunteer win]."

Although he's never made the trip as a visiting opponent, new running backs coach Bobby Bentley should feel right at home in Williams-Brice. The former Byrnes High School head coach won four consecutive state championships on South Carolina's field from 2002-05.

"I remember raising the 'Four in a Row' banner in the stadium with the players [after the '05 win]," said Bentley. "I remember the team warmups during those state championship games, a lot of vivid memories of Williams-Brice Stadium in my past."

Now, Bentley and the rest of the new Gamecocks have chances to create new memories in a stadium that is home to so many.