At Thursday's meeting of the Orangeburg Touchdown Club inside The Cinema, it was fitting that the guest speaker was a former player who was coached by SC State head football coach Buddy Pough, although during his time with the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Pough coached his 129th win for the Bulldogs program this past Saturday, in a rain-soaked 24-10 homecoming win over Morgan State, making him the all-time wins leader at SC State.
The guest speaker on Thursday was former Gamecocks 3-time All-SEC offensive lineman Jamar Nesbit, who went from a 1-10 South Carolina team to an 11-year NFL career that concluded with a Super Bowl win. Nesbit is currently serving as a radio sideline reporter for South Carolina football games.
SC State Director of Athletics Stacy Danley opened Thursday's meeting by telling those in attendance how pleased he was to see Pough and his team have success and get the victories to reach the all-time wins record for Pough.
"Since I got here, three years ago, I've seen firsthand that coach Pough is a winner," Danley said. "Last year, when we talked often about you coming back to serve another year in this capacity, you and I were on the same page, even though some other people weren't on the same page.
"It's no surprise that we have a successful team this year. The playing field has not been level (recruiting funding, etc.) the past few years. So there have been some tough wins recently, with some of the struggles that most people don't know about. I'm excited, having watched you overcome adversity each season the last three years."
After Danley's comments, he recognized the Bulldogs' former all-time wins leader Willie Jeffries, who also serves at the OTC host. Jeffries then presented a football to Pough to honor his former player's coaching accomplishment.
"All of you in here, if you have children, you want them to do better than you've done," Jeffries said. "Well, Buddy is one of ours and I proudly present this (football) to you.
"Buddy majored in mathematics, not general studies or something like that. You are the epitome of a gentleman and an outstanding football coach."
Pough admitted that this past Saturday's win for the Bulldogs will be memorable for more reasons than just the record-breaking win.
"I was proud of our administration, since we decided to move up our Morgan game, due to Tropical Storm Nestor and the rains it was bringing in," Pough said. "We didn't turn the ball over on offense, and our defense played lights out, completely stopping them, with their offense rushing for minus-5 yards on us.
"We won a game and we got the record. This record deal is not as much of a me deal as it is a we deal, and really and all kinds of people deal. A lot of players and coaches and others through the years."
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Nesbit and current SC State offensive line coach Na'Shan Goddard, who both played for the Gamecocks during Pough's time on staff in Columbia, are not among the players who have garnered head coaching wins for Pough. But both are among the long list of young men Pough has influenced in his coaching career.
"I met coach Pough my senior season (in 1998), our 1-10 last year with Brad Scott season; we won that first game (against Ball State) and then proceeded to lose the final 10," Nesbit said. "As the senior on the offensive line, I was supposed the be the leader, so a lot of that fell on me.
"Coach Pough was part of the braintrust that thought it was a great idea to move a two-time All-SEC left tackle to center. Yes, I did make All-SEC as a center after that."
Nesbit - whose dad is an SC State graduate - signed as an undrafted free agent with the Carolina Panthers and played for 11 NFL seasons, also suiting up for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New Orleans Saints. Nesbit and Goddard won Super Bowl rings with the Saints in 2009.
"I was born and raised in Germany, didn't play football until high school once we moved to Summerville," Nesbit said. "So, suddenly I was away from Europe and in a place where football is a mainstay. I had played soccer most of my life.
"So, I was finally able to use my size (in football), instead of being penalized for it with soccer. I was blessed to be recruited by just about every college football program. I chose South Carolina because it had the best International Business school. After that, I was able to make it as the only undrafted free agent rookie on the active roster for the Carolina Panthers (in 1999)."
After four seasons with the Panthers, Nesbit signed a free agent deal with the Jaguars. He had to watch as the Panthers made the Super Bowl that postseason, following the 2003 season. But, Nesbit was with the Saints from 2004-2009, winning the Super Bowl in Sean Payton's third year as head coach to finish the 2009 campaign.
Nesbit lived through the devastation and displacement brought on New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. But he also was part of Payton's restructuring of the Saints team to build up to a Super Bowl victory in his final professional game.
"In '06, when Sean Payton came in and changed the culture of the (Saints) organization, it was probably the most difficult thing I've seen in sports," Nesbit said. "It's tough, whether it's in college or in the business world, trying to change the culture of an organization and change it to a situation where you can be successful, and not just successful once, but repetitively.
"You have to put a system into place where it's almost plug-and-play, where everybody understands the goal and everybody is working toward that end goal together."
Earlier Thursday at the OTC meeting, two ATI Physical Therapy Players of the Week were recognized. Dorchester Academy senior quarterback Colby Weeks was honored as Offensive Player of the Week, while Orangeburg prep senior linebacker Billy Workman was named the Defensive Player of the Week.
Retired North Carolina A&T head football coach Rod Broadway, head coach for the Aggies in winning 3 of the last 4 Celebration Bowl games in Atlanta, will be the guest speaker for the Orangeburg Touchdown Club meeting on Thursday, Oct. 31.