It all happened so fast for University of South Carolina Athletics Director Ray Tanner.
Being with the Gamecocks for 16 years, the three-time National Coach of the Year found himself quickly going from just competing for a third straight national title to being the guy to replace former AD Eric Hyman. In fact, Tanner told the Orangeburg Touchdown Club during its final meeting of the season that being in his current role is not something he was all that nervous about.
“You know what? I never really planned on it happening exactly like it did,” Tanner said. “I coached at the university for 16 years. I was a head coach for 25 years. When I started out as an assistant coach in baseball at North Carolina State, you couldn’t just be an assistant coach. Back then, athletic directors would say, ‘You mean you just want to be an assistant coach and you want to get paid full time? Not going to happen.’
“So, you had to do everything. I worked football operations. I worked in the ticket office. I worked in the athletic dorm. I hosted volleyball games. You name it and I did it. Ironically, I enjoyed it. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know why, but I enjoyed all of those experiences. One day, I said maybe I’ll get back into administration.”
That day came in July as Tanner was named as Hyman’s successor. Now Tanner hopes to keep the Garnet and Black moving in the right direction.
“We’re going to move forward as fast as we can to improve the department of athletics as it relates to our student athletes,” Tanner said. “All I’ve ever done is coaching and, when I sat down with our senior staff, very few people in the room have coached or played. There’s one or two, but we’re here because of our students and our student athletes and I feel like it’s my job to move them forward as much as I can academically and athletically, personal development as well.”
Prior to Tanner speaking to the large crowd at The Cinema, S.C. State head coach Buddy Pough submitted his final Bulldog Report. The Bulldogs are coming off a 17-7 loss to North Carolina A&T, giving South Carolina State its first losing season since 2000.
“It’s been a strange kind of year chemistry-wise for us,” Pough said. “We don’t seem to have it some days. Some days, we do. It was one of those kind of days where we couldn’t seem to make the kind of connection you’ve got to make to make an offense go.”
However,the Bulldogs are hoping to end their season on a winning note with a win against Savannah State to send off their seniors with one final victory.
“They’re coming here this week and our job is to go out and play as well as we can for these 17 seniors and for our team in general going into the offseason,” Pough said. “We’ve got to go out and do something to show some excitement.”
Edisto quarterback Tyrell Maxwell was named co-offensive player of the week after putting up four rushing touchdowns and throwing for one in the Cougars’ 41-24 win over Lake City last week. Joining him at the front of the room to be honored for his offensive efforts was Bamberg-Ehrhardt quarterback Sumner Cooler, who rushed for a touchdown and threw two more in the Red Raiders’ 21-18 comeback win over Woodland. Cooler was joined by teammate Nicholas Halmon, who was named this week’s defensive player of the week. Halmon recorded 14 tackles in the win, including the final tackle of the night to secure the victory.