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Warren Muir

 

Article Provided by The Gamecock Newspaper
By: Alex Riley
Assistant Sports Editor

Issue date: 10/7/05 Section: Friday Football Blitz
 
The most talked about photo of fullback Warren Muir isn't one of a leaping touchdown grab or a dive over the pile for an upset victory. It's actually a posed shot of him in a running position wearing a cowboy hat.

"There was a fella that the different universities would hire to come and do the photos every year, and he had a bag of tricks.  I guess in trying to loosen up the situation he would get the (players) to put on these gimmicks and just have a good time," Muir said. "He'd tell all the running backs to 'huck and buck.' He'd want you to pretend you were on a horse and wear this hat. I hope they never put that one in the media guide."

He never had any intention of playing football for USC. In fact, when he left high school in Fitchburg, Mass., Muir was on his way to play football in the military.

"Paul Dietzel, who later came to South Carolina, was coaching at West Point at the time," Muir said. "In the spring of my freshman year, coach Dietzel took the job at South Carolina. I finished my (freshman) year, then I transferred to South Carolina in the fall of 1966."

Muir was redshirted the following season, sitting out the 1966 campaign, which would finish 1-9. It would be 1967 before Muir could make his debut for the Gamecocks, starting a career that would earn him the title as "the toughest inside runner I've ever coached," Dietzel said.

"I consider it a great experience to have been under (Dietzel's) coaching abilities," Muir said. "He did a lot for South Carolina, getting the stadium to where it is today. He had a lot of enthusiasm."

During Muir's time as USC's fullback, the Gamecocks compiled a 16-15 record, but managed a winning record in ACC play every season. In 1967 and 1968, the Gamecocks posted 5-5 and 4-6 campaigns, respectively. Those two seasons set up one of the most memorable seasons in USC history.

The Gamecocks finished the 1969 season with a 7-4 overall record and a perfect 6-0 record in the ACC, earning them the title of ACC champions, the school's first and only conference title in the history of the program.

After a season-opening win against Duke, 27-20,    the Gamecocks pulled off wins against North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia Tech, Maryland and Wake Forest. The regular season finale with rival Clemson was also a victory, as USC dominated the Tigers, 27-13. With the success, the Gamecocks earned the right to represent the ACC in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta against West Virginia.

"It was very exciting back then to set that goal and accomplish that goal," Muir said. "Playing in the Peach Bowl, unfortunately we lost to a West Virginia team coached by Jim Carlen, who finished that year and went to Texas Tech. Then a couple of years later, he replaced coach Dietzel. It was an exciting part of my life."

The Gamecocks lost the Peach Bowl 14-3, but left the school with one of the finest seasons ever played in Columbia.

For his efforts on the field, Muir earned All-ACC his senior year as well as All-American honors on two squads - the American Football Coaches team and the Detroit Sports Extra's 33-man squad. He also earned a spot on the Coaches All-Star Game roster in Lubbock, Texas, one of only four Gamecocks to achieve the honor.

"It does mean a lot personally to attain that goal," Muir said. "It's all the coaches and the team that are part of it. Without all those fellas, I never would have gotten the chance. The opportunity to go out there and beat some players of tremendous caliber was great. Just wish I could remember them all."

The professional football draft came calling for Muir, but it came very late, as the New York Giants picked him in the 15th round.

The life of professional football wasn't for Muir.

"I never really played; I played in one exhibition game," Muir said. "We played Green Bay at Green Bay on Saturday night, and I was cut the next Monday or Tuesday. I had gotten drafted by the Canadian league. I went out visit them, way on the west coast of Canada. They wanted me to stay out there, get a job and play with the team the next year. That's when I decided to hang up football."

More than 30 years after leaving Carolina, Muir is still listed among one of the best in Gamecock history. When he left, his 2,234 yards were good enough for second all-time, behind only Steve Wadiak. Today, he sits in 10th place overall. Until Derek Watson in 2000, Muir's 969-yard rushing season in 1969 was good enough for 10th all-time in Carolina history.

Muir tallied six games with more than 100 yards rushing during his collegiate career, including a 164-yard performance against North Carolina in 1967, still the 22nd-highest rushing game in USC history.

"All records and stuff are meant to be broken," Muir said. "I've gradually worked my way down the list with all these great running backs that have come through."

After his short stint in the pros, Muir returned to South Carolina, where he put his civil engineering degree to use. He's worked for many companies throughout the state.

He resides in Aiken, working for Gilliam and Associates.

"After being in the area for four years, I had a lot of friends and contacts. And I didn't have to shovel snow, and I've been in the South Carolina area ever since," Muir said. "It's been a good, good place to be in construction. I started the summer between my junior and senior year in Columbia and been doing it ever since."