Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Saying it's "a 19-year dream come true," Chad Holbrook accepted and took the role of head coach of the USC baseball team Monday.
Ray Tanner, the man who'd been head coach until last Friday, introduced Holbrook to a room full of reporters, family members, and USC officials.
"The best man, the best coach for the job, is already here," Tanner said.
"It doesn't get any better than to be the head coach at the University of South Carolina," Holbrook said.
Tanner took the Athletics Director Job last week.
At times emotional, Holbrook spoke about his admiration for Tanner, his family, and the people who'd influenced him.
Holbrook had spent the last four years as USC assistant head coach.
"This is the perfect opportunity for me, this is the perfect opportunity for my family," Holbrook said. "I wanted to coach in a place where the expectations are high."
While it might seem a bit daunting to replace a coach who's won two national championships, Holbrook says it's a plus.
"It's an honor that a legend has asked me to replace him," he explained.
It's a relationship that had its origins in an odd beginning at Tanner's introductory press conference 16 years ago. Holbrook, who was at North Carolina at the time, snuck into the press conference by claiming he was a member of the media. He used the opportunity to slip Tanner a note saying it would be his hope and dream if he could one day be part of his staff.
Tanner kept the note, and 11 years later, brought Holbrook in as an assistant.
"I've learned so much from Ray Tanner," he said, adding that Tanner had allowed him to execute some of the duties of the head coach over the last four years. But he says he'll be calling on his mentor's advice, and joked he'd wear a bracelet with the letters "WWRD": What Would Ray Do.
"He'll be my security blanket," he said.
Prior to coming to Columbia, Holbrook spent 15 years on North Carolina's coaching staff, where he established a reputation as a top recruiter. He brought that commitment to bringing in talent to USC, and is credited with snaring many of the players that have led the Gamecocks to three straight national title series appearances.
That, he says, won't change.
"I'm going to continue to recruit my rear-end off for this university," Holbrook added.