Monte Lee talks Ray Tanner, Chad Holbrook and the job at South Carolina

by - Senior Writer -
Monte Lee and Chad Holbrook earlier this year
Monte Lee and Chad Holbrook earlier this year

CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Monte Lee was emphatic Friday when he said that he hasn’t been contacted about the opening at the University of South Carolina, but he was just as emphatic when he said that while he hates to see good friends lose their jobs he knows there is a different expectation for baseball in the Palmetto State.

Lee sat down with the media at Doug Kingsmore Stadium Friday afternoon, his first availability since Clemson lost in the regional to Vanderbilt a few weeks ago. Former head coach Chad Holbrook resigned as the coach at South Carolina on June 6 after the Gamecocks missed the NCAA tournament for the second time in three seasons.

Lee served as an assistant coach under South Carolina Athletic Director Ray Tanner at South Carolina (when Tanner coached the Gamecocks) from 2003-08. After leaving Columbia, he took over the program at College of Charleston, where he spent the next seven seasons. Holbrook, who was hired by Tanner as an assistant in 2009, never worked on the same Gamecock staff as Lee, though the two remain close.

Lee said that Tanner has not contacted him about the opening.

“Ray Tanner is a good friend of mine. Ray Tanner is somebody I have a tremendous amount of respect for. I talk to Ray from time to time and we'll call just to check in with each other from time to time just to see how the other is doing,” Lee said “He has not called me abut the job at South Carolina. I am very happy at Clemson. I don't anticipate going anywhere anytime soon. If Clemson is going to have me as the head coach then this is where I want to be. So, no. He has not reached out to me about the South Carolina job. Ray is somebody I respect. I am sure they will find the right guy, whoever that is. He is one of the best in the business and someone I respect an awful lot and have a friendship with.”

Lee said it was tough to see Holbrook lose his job, but he’s confident Holbrook will land on his feet.

“In regards to Chad, Chad is a friend of mine. We've always gotten along great. I am sure he will be fine and I'm sure he will land on his feet,” Lee said. “He's an excellent coach and an excellent recruiter with a great track record. But you look from afar - you lose your Saturday night starter and lost their starting catcher and lost their top reliever for a number of weeks. It's tough. It's tough to recover from that. But Chad will tell you they were a pitch here or there or a hit here or there from winning a number of games and they probably would have been in the postseason.”

However, the expectations at traditional powers like Clemson and South Carolina are different than they are in other schools.

“But it's a tough business, and we all know what the expectations are. If their program or our program is not competing to go to a Super Regional and Omaha every single year, the fan bases are going to view that as a disappointment,” Lee said. “And the coaches are, too. We understand what the expectations are and what the accountability of our jobs are. We won 42 games and hosted a regional in back-to-back years, and we haven't done that in a long time. And everybody here feels like the season was a disappointment to a degree. We feel like we've done some good things but it's not good enough, and that's just the way it is. You feel bad for coaches that lose their jobs but I think we all know what we signed up for.”

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