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Gamecock Baseball: Foundering




Fire up the #FireHolbrook hashtag … again.

The University of South Carolina baseball team lost its fifth straight Southeastern Conference (SEC) series this weekend against the visiting Kentucky Wildcats, further elevating the temperature of the hot seat occupied by fifth-year head coach Chad Holbrook.

Holbrook’s Gamecocks (25-17, 10-11 SEC) began the season as a consensus top five selection – but have consistently underperformed expectations ever since.  They’ve lost plenty of close games, to be sure, but they’ve also been on the receiving end of some historic blowouts.  Among them?  A 20-5 thrashing at the hands of North Carolina earlier this month and a 19-1 loss to open this weekend’s series against Kentucky.

The latter loss was the program’s worst defeat in two decades – and the biggest blowout in the history of Founder’s Park, where the Gamecocks have played their home games since 2009.

Fans are growing increasingly restless …

When Holbrook inherited the Gamecock program from former head coach (and current athletics director) Ray Tanner following the 2012 season, South Carolina had appeared in three consecutive College World Series finals – winning championships in 2010 and 2011.

They haven’t been back to Omaha since.

In 2015, Holbrook’s team failed to qualify for postseason play – the first time the Gamecocks missed out on the postseason in over a decade-and-a-half.

Despite the mounting losses, Tanner seems inclined to stick with his hand-picked successor.  Just last week he said Holbrook simply needed to “stay the course” and that eventually his program would “get some of those close ones back.”

For his part, Holbrook has attributed his team’s poor play to the pressure of “expectations” placed on them at the beginning of the season.

Hmmmm …

For those of you keeping score at home, Holbrook’s contract at South Carolina runs through the 2019 season.  As for Tanner, he recently received a three-year contract extension that will keep him at the helm of the school’s athletics department through 2022.  Tanner also got a raise with his extension.  His salary will climb from $737,187 to $900,000 a year beginning on July 1, 2018 and will hit the $1 million mark on July 1, 2019.

What has Tanner done to warrant more time (and more money)?

Good question …

The jury is still out on Tanner’s biggest hire – head football coach Will Muschamp.  And at this point his selection of Holbrook is looking increasingly like a dud.  Obviously basketball coaches Frank Martin (men) and Dawn Staley (women) have led their programs to unprecedented heights – but they were hired by Tanner’s predecessor, Eric Hyman.

Again … what has Tanner done in the five years since he was hired?

Maybe somebody should fire up the #FireTanner hashtag instead …

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