When I walked out of the Supe's office, I felt about as high as a thimble. Imagine working four years at a job and then realizing that your boss doesn't even know you! I wanted to talk to somebody, but our close military friends had been transferred to their next stations. Most of the military people were very nice to us but there are many small things that happen, especially at athletic and social events, that keep you apprised of the fact that you and your family are civilians. You never completely belong.
There were still some things about South Carolina I wanted to explore further. So I called George Terry, who had been my good right arm for so long, and asked if he'd like to go down. He said, "I think maybe one of us better." George was very impressed with the university and with the people, their attitude and how much they wanted to be helpful. But there were lots of problems, and the South Carolina officials were going to fly up to meet with me.
As we rode back from the airport I told George, "Now, you know that as soon as I say I'm going to take the South Carolina job, Army may offer you the coaching job here. If you would like to do that, I want to know now. If you're not going to " South Carolina with me, then I'm not going. It's as simple as that. I'm not trying to knock you out of the Army job, but I'm not going to South Carolina without you. Don't say anything right now but you just go home and talk to Frances about it." The next day George told me that if I went, so would he.
The next couple of days were the most difficult of my life. I had almost decided I was going to stay, but the one thing that gnawed at me was that General Bennett had never said, "Paul, we'd like to have you stay." All he had to do was ask me, and I would have stayed.
George and I met with Dr. Thomas Jones, president of South Carolina, and Dr. Jim Morris, the faculty chairman of athletics, in the same hotel at Kennedy Airport where the Army thing had started four years earlier. We talked for hours, but nothing was decided at the time. I went back to West Point and listed my reasons for staying or going. There were seven for staying and 17 for going. I finally got it boiled down to the crux of the matter: what was best for my family and the coaches who depend upon me vs. my pride, or ego. By that I mean the unfinished challenge at West Point, the corps and the players. Nothing else really entered into it, just those two things. And when it becomes a choice between my family or me, my family is going to win every time. That was what decided it.
I knew now I had to take the South Carolina job, so I asked the athletic board to formally release me from my contract. They agreed.
Saying goodby to the players was the hardest part. We gathered the men together and I explained to them what had motivated my decision, how I had to do what was best for my family. When I finished, they all lined up, every single one of them, and they filed by and shook hands with me. They were bawling their eyes out, and so was I. I'll tell you, it was one of the most moving moments in my life.
These are the true facts of my move from LSU to Army and from Army to South Carolina. I still don't believe I've ever broken a contract.