COLUMBIA -- South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman certainly knows what he's up against as he prepares for his biggest coaching hire in his short time heading Gamecock athletics.
"You're only as good as your last miracle," Hyman said Friday.
Two weeks after longtime basketball coach Dave Odom announced his retirement, Hyman painted a broad picture short on absolutes about how he will look for Odom's replacement.
Two things for sure: Forget about a search committee and count on a lot of fact finding.
Hyman, who took over on July 1, 2005, will do most of the leg work himself. He's already talked with Gamecock players to "develop a profile" about the kind of candidate the Gamecocks need.
Hyman called current and former head coaches he knows for an outline of what issues might be most important to a potential coach.
Hyman says he will call on South Carolina academic adviser Al Daniel, who has played and coached college basketball, for help in sifting through potential candidates.
Odom's retirement -- he'll step down after his seventh season with South Carolina -- gave Hyman a cushion to prepare, the AD said.
Still, Hyman didn't let slip too many clues about the search.
He wouldn't say if he had anyone call already about the opening. He wouldn't specify a time for a hire.
Hyman is open to both head coaches and talented assistants, although he would probably lean toward someone with experience running a team.
He only said South Carolina would put forth a salary package that fit the marketplace for basketball coaches.
Hyman expects interest in the job to be high. "I think it's a hell of a job, to be brutally frank," he said.
He says whoever takes the position will have some of the best facilities in the Southeastern Conference to recruit with and a nucleus of returning players that includes guard Devan Downey and Zam Fredrick, the Gamecocks top two scorers this season.
"The bottom line I try to look for in any coaching search is work ethic, intelligence and integrity," Hyman said. Those are the cornerstones and then you build on it with a lot of the things you extrapolate from the athletes and some of these people that really know the University of South Carolina."
One of the reasons for Odom's departure was a lack of atmosphere around home games at the Colonial Center. Hyman remembered how he felt a genuine buzz about basketball when he first arrived and how it has slipped away since then. "We have not improved on that level," he said.
Hyman and the university awarded Odom with a two-year contract extension in January 2007. Odom said he chose to leave, in part, so those fans focused on his ouster could turn their energies to supporting Gamecock players.
South Carolina (10-10, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) is coming off a 62-56 win over Georgia. It takes on No. 24 Mississippi (16-3, 3-3) on Saturday.
Hyman will listen to all the input and take as long as he has to hire the right person.
"We have challenges ahead of us," he said. But "we have huge potential. Now, the key is to max the potential."