Former USC coach Chad Holbrook weighs in on Gamecocks’ baseball coaching search

Chad Holbrook knows a thing or two about how Ray Tanner operates, whether that’s in the dugout or during a coaching search.

Holbrook worked as the Gamecocks’ associate head coach under Tanner (2008-12) when USC made three straight trips to the College World Series and won two national championships. When Tanner became the university’s athletics director in 2012, it was Holbrook who was hired to succeed him as baseball head coach.

While Holbrook was ultimately replaced as USC’s coach after the 2017 season, he can speak with a level of authority as to how Tanner is approaching the current search to replace Mark Kingston.

“I do think he’s going to do his due diligence,” Holbrook said Friday on “Inside The Gamecocks The Show.” “If the best coach isn’t the right fit, he will not be hired. He will try to find the best coach that is also the best fit.”

Holbrook — now the head coach at College of Charleston — offered some other commentary on the Gamecocks’ search, predicting a hire would be made by the end of next week. Kingston was fired on Monday. (As a comparison, eight days passed between Frank Martin’s dismissal in 2022 and when Lamont Paris was hired as the USC men’s basketball coach.)

Holbrook also urged fans not to hold Monte Lee’s Clemson tenure against him when considering his qualifications to be South Carolina’s head coach. Lee’s Clemson teams made four NCAA Tournaments, but he never got the Tigers to a super regional and missed the postseason his final two seasons there.

Lee was an assistant coach under Tanner at USC and worked as the associate head coach under Kingston the past two seasons. He’s now the interim coach as the Gamecocks look to fill the head vacancy. And he’s openly expressed a desire to be Tanner’s choice to lead USC.

“If Monte is the next head coach, you’ll have one of the biggest Gamecocks leading in your dugout leading the baseball program,” Holbrook said.

GamecockCentral’s Chris Clark reported Friday that Louisville’s Dan McDonnell was no longer an option to be South Carolina’s next coach. TheBigSpur’s John Whittle reported that Tanner has had “extensive conversations” with McDonnell, Chris Pollard (Duke) and Tom Walter (Wake Forest) but that Lee had not yet had a formal interview.

The next Gamecocks’ coach will be the 31st in program history.

“I don’t think he knows who he’s gonna hire yet,” Holbrook said. “I think he still has a few people he wants to talk to. And I feel like he knows he has a great candidate here. And if he’s not convinced that whoever he wants to talk to is better than what he has here, then he’s gonna feel great hiring Monte.”