uburn running back Kenny Iron’s public divorce with South Carolina has again become front and center news this week. The Tigers take on South Carolina Thursday night, where Irons will return to Williams-Brice Stadium wearing orange and blue. Irons led the SEC in rushing last season after sitting out the 2004 campaign as required by the NCAA, while transferring to Auburn from Carolina.
The reasons for Irons move to the Plains is well documented. He was the Gamecocks leading returning rusher heading into his sophomore season. Irons had run with the first team through Spring and preseason practices. The night before the season opener, Irons was told by then head coach Lou Holtz that he would not be starting. Instead, the Gamecocks went with freshman Parade All-American Demetris Summers.
What Irons didn’t know at the time was that Holtz had promised Summers the starting job if he signed with South Carolina. Summers was one of the top running backs in the country coming out of high school and Irons quickly found out why he signed with the Gamecocks. The remainder of Irons sophomore season was forgettable. Holtz further humiliated Irons by making him play in a JV game that season.
It’s easy to see why Holtz’s tenure at South Carolina, especially at the end, was a disaster.
Current Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier came to Irons defense this week saying he understood why Irons transferred to Auburn. “If all the stories are true, I can understand why he left, to tell you the truth,” Spurrier said. “He’s a fine running back, a good player and from everything I hear, he’s a wonderful person, also.”
Irons has moved past those dark days and is now widely considered the top runner in the SEC. He’ll be nursing a sprained ankle coming into Thursday night’s contest. My guess is, he won’t feel a thing.