Lou Holtz

Lou Holtz

Lou Holtz
Lou Holtz in July 2007
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1937-01-06) January 6, 1937
Follansbee, West Virginia
Playing career
1956–1957 Kent State
Position(s) Linebacker
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1960 Iowa (assistant)
1961–1963 William & Mary (assistant)
1964–1965 Connecticut (assistant)
1966–1967 South Carolina (assistant)
1968 Ohio State (assistant)
1969–1971 William & Mary
1972–1975 NC State
1976 New York Jets
1977–1983 Arkansas
1984–1985 Minnesota
1986–1996 Notre Dame
1999–2004 South Carolina
Head coaching record
Overall 249–132–7 (college)
3–10 (NFL)
Bowls 12–8–2
College Football Data Warehouse
Accomplishments and honors
1 National (1988)
1 SoCon (1970)
1 ACC (1973)
1 SWC (1979)
2x Paul "Bear" Bryant Award (1977, 1988)
2x Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (1977, 1988)
2x Sporting News College Football COY (1977, 1988)
Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award (1977)
ACC Coach of the Year (1972)
SEC Coach of the Year (2000)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2008 (profile)

Louis Leo "Lou" Holtz (born January 6, 1937) is a former American football player, coach, and analyst. He served as the head football coach at The College of William & Mary (1969–1971), North Carolina State University (1972–1975), the University of Arkansas (1977–1983), the University of Minnesota (1984–1985), the University of Notre Dame (1986–1996), and the University of South Carolina (1999–2004), compiling a career record of 249–132–7. Holtz's 1988 Notre Dame team went 12–0 with a victory in the Fiesta Bowl and was the consensus national champion. Holtz is the only college football coach to lead six different programs to bowl games and the only coach to guide four different programs to the final top 20 rankings. Holtz also coached the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL) during the 1976 season.

Over the years, the slender, bespectacled Holtz has become known for his quick wit and ability to inspire players. He is often found as a guest on the popular Richmond, Virginia based Kain Road Radio. In 2005, Holtz joined ESPN as a college football analyst. On May 1, 2008, Holtz was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.[1]


  • Early life and coaching career 1
    • William & Mary 1.1
    • North Carolina State 1.2
    • New York Jets 1.3
    • Arkansas 1.4
    • Minnesota 1.5
    • Notre Dame 1.6
      • Testament to recruiting 1.6.1
      • First retirement 1.6.2
    • South Carolina 1.7
      • Second retirement 1.7.1
    • Motivational speaking 1.8
  • Books 2
  • Broadcasting career 3
  • Personal life 4
  • Honors 5
  • Head coaching record 6
    • College 6.1
    • NFL 6.2
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Early life and coaching career

Holtz was born in Follansbee, West Virginia and grew up in East Liverpool, Ohio, where he was raised as a Roman Catholic. He graduated from East Liverpool High School. After high school, Holtz attended Kent State University. He was a member of the Delta Upsilon Fraternity, played college football as an undersized linebacker, and graduated in 1959 with a degree in History. Holtz also trained under Kent State's Army Reserve Officer Training Corps and earned a commission as a Field Artillery Officer in the United States Army Reserve at the time of his graduation from college. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1960, at Iowa, where he received his master's degree.[2] From there, he made stops as an assistant at William & Mary (1961–1963), Connecticut (1964–1965), South Carolina (1966–1967) and Ohio State (1968). The 1968 Ohio State Buckeyes football team won a national championship with Holtz as an assistant.

William & Mary

Holtz's first job as head coach came in 1969, at The College of William & Mary, who played in the Southern Conference at the time. In 1970, he led the William & Mary Indians (now Tribe) to the Southern Conference title and played in the Tangerine Bowl.[3]

North Carolina State

In 1972, Holtz moved to North Carolina State University and had a 33–12–3 record in four seasons. His Wolfpack teams played in four bowl games, going 2–1–1.[3] Holtz received offers to become the Tulane head coach. He at first accepted the offer from David Dixon, the New Orleans Saints founder, then Holtz called Dixon saying he couldn't come to Tulane.

New York Jets

Holtz's lone foray into the professional ranks consisted of one season with the New York Jets in 1976. He resigned with one game remaining in the season after going 3–10.[2]


Holtz went to the University of Arkansas in 1977. In his seven years there, the Razorbacks compiled a 60–21–2 record and reached six bowl games. In his first season at Arkansas, he led them to a berth in the 1978 Orange Bowl against the Oklahoma Sooners, then coached by University of Arkansas alumnus Barry Switzer.[3] The Sooners were in position to win their third national championship in four seasons after top-ranked Texas lost earlier in the day to fifth-ranked Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl Classic. Arkansas' chances looked slim after the team lost several key personnel just before the game. In one of his last practices, All-American guard, Leotis Harris suffered a season-ending injury, and only a couple of days later Holtz suspended both starting running backs, Ben Cowins and Michael Forrest, and top receiver, Donny Bobo, for disciplinary reasons. However, behind an Orange Bowl record of 205 yards rushing from reserve running back Roland Sales the Hogs defeated the Sooners, 31–6.[4] Holtz was widely considered to be the leading candidate to replace Woody Hayes at Ohio State in 1979, but Holtz did not pursue the job because he did not want to follow Hayes.[5][6]

Holtz was dismissed following a 6–5 campaign in 1983. At the time, athletic director Frank Broyles stated that Holtz had resigned because he was "tired and burned out", and was not fired.[7] Broyles testified 20 years later that he had fired Holtz because he was losing the fan base with things he said and did.[8] Holtz confirmed that he had been fired, but that Broyles never gave him a reason,[9] although reports cited his political involvement as a major reason: controversy arose over his having taped two television advertisements from his coach's office endorsing the re-election of Jesse Helms as Senator from North Carolina at a time when Helms was leading the effort to block Martin Luther King Day from becoming a national holiday.[10][11]


Holtz accepted the head coach job at the University of Minnesota before the 1984 season. The Golden Gophers had won only four games in the previous two seasons, but had a winning record in 1985 and were invited to the Independence Bowl, where they defeated Clemson, 20–13. Holtz did not coach the Gophers in that bowl game, as he had already accepted the head coaching position at Notre Dame.[3] His contract included a "Notre Dame clause" that allowed him to leave if that coaching job were to become available.[12] Years later, the NCAA placed Minnesota on two years probation for 17 rule violations, two of which were committed by Holtz during his tenure.[13]

Notre Dame

In 1986, Holtz left Minnesota to take over the then-struggling Notre Dame Fighting Irish football program. A taskmaster and strict disciplinarian, Holtz had the names removed from the backs of the players' jerseys when he took over at Notre Dame, wanting to emphasize team effort. Except for the 1988 Cotton Bowl Classic against Texas A&M, the 2008 Hawaii Bowl, the 2010 Sun Bowl against Miami, the 2013 BCS National Championship Game against Alabama, and the 2013 Pinstripe Bowl, names have not been included on Notre Dame's team jerseys since. Although his 1986 squad posted an identical 5–6 mark that the 1985 edition had, five of their six losses were by a combined total of 14 points.[14] In the season finale against the archrival USC Trojans, Notre Dame overcame a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit and pulled out a 38–37 win over the stunned Southern Cal team.[14]

In his second season, Holtz led the Fighting Irish to an appearance in the Cotton Bowl Classic, where the Irish lost to the Texas A&M Aggies, 35–10.[14] The following year, Notre Dame won all eleven of their regular season games and defeated the third-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers, 34–21, in the Fiesta Bowl, claiming the national championship. The 1989 squad also won their first eleven games (and in the process set a school record with a 23-game winning streak[14]) and remained in the No. 1 spot all season until losing to Miami in the season finale. A 21–6 win over Colorado in the Orange Bowl gave the Irish a second-place ranking in the final standings, as well as back-to-back 12-win seasons for the first time in school history.

Holtz's 1993 Irish team ended the season with an 11–1 record and ranked second in the final AP poll. Although the Florida State Seminoles were defeated by the Irish in a battle of unbeatens during the regular season and both teams had only 1 loss at season's end (Notre Dame lost to seventeenth-ranked Boston College), FSU was then voted national champion in the final 1993 AP and Coaches Poll. Between 1988 and 1993, Holtz's teams posted an overall 64–9–1 record.[14] He also took the Irish to bowl games for nine consecutive seasons, still a Notre Dame record.[14]

Following an investigation in 1999, the NCAA placed Notre Dame on two years probation for extra benefits provided to football players between 1993 and 1999 by Kim Dunbar, a South Bend bookkeeper involved in a $1.4 million embezzlement scheme at her employer, as well as one instance of academic fraud that occurred under Holtz's successor, Bob Davie. The NCAA found that Holtz and members of his staff learned of the violations but failed to make appropriate inquiry or to take prompt action, finding Holtz's efforts "inadequate."[15][16]

On September 13, 2008 Lou Holtz was invited back to the campus where a statue of the former coach was unveiled. The ceremony took place during the weekend of the Notre Dame/Michigan game, almost twenty-two years to the day after Holtz coached his first Notre Dame team against the Wolverines.

Testament to recruiting

Holtz's option offense, which helped catapult Notre Dame to many victories in the late 1980s and early 1990s, also helped rack up impressive recruiting classes. During the 1989 season, Holtz had the following future NFL players on offense: QB Rick Mirer, RB Ricky Watters, RB Anthony Johnson, RB Rodney Culver, RB Dorsey Levens, and WR Raghib Ismail. In 1990, he added RB Jeff Burris (who would later move to Safety), FB Jerome Bettis and TE Irv Smith. 1991 saw the additions of RB Reggie Brooks and FB Ray Zellars. 1992 saw the addition of WR Derrick Mayes. For 1993, he added FB Marc Edwards. In 1995, he added RB Autry Denson.

From the 1987–1991 NFL Drafts, there were 33 Notre Dame players selected. From the 1992–1995 NFL Drafts, there were 32 Notre Dame players selected.

First retirement

Lou Holtz left Notre Dame after the 1996 season and walked away from a lifetime contract for undisclosed reasons. It is believed that Holtz "retired" due to knowledge of upcoming sanctions against the Notre Dame football program. In 1996, two members of the Minnesota Vikings's ownership board, Wheelock Whitney and Jaye Dyer, reportedly contacted Holtz. They wanted to bring him in to replace Dennis Green.[17] Of the rumors surrounding the reasons for Holtz's retirement, one of them was the possible Vikings head coaching position.[18]

South Carolina

After two seasons as a commentator for CBS Sports, Holtz came out of retirement in 1999 and returned to the University of South Carolina, where he had been an assistant in the 1960s. The year before Holtz arrived, the Gamecocks went 1–10, and the team subsequently went 0–11 during Holtz's first season. In his second season, South Carolina went 8–4, winning the Outback Bowl over the heavily favored Ohio State Buckeyes. The eight-game improvement from the previous year was the best in the nation in 2000 and the third best single-season turnaround in NCAA history.[19] It also earned National Coach of the Year honors for Holtz from Football News and American Football Coaches Quarterly. In his third season, Holtz's success continued, leading the Gamecocks to a 9–3 record and another Outback Bowl victory over Ohio State. The nine wins for the season were the second highest total in the history of the program. Under Holtz's leadership, the Gamecocks posted their best two-year mark in school history from 2000 to 2001, going 17–7 overall and 10–6 in SEC play.[3]

After consecutive 5–7 campaigns in 2002 and 2003, Holtz finished his South Carolina tenure on a winning note with a 6–5 record in 2004. Thomas Perritt was a huge force in Holtz's defensive gameplan. Holtz's time in Columbia saw the resurrection of Gamecock Football, as the program had only one bowl win and no Top 25 finishes in the ten years before his hire. Upon his exit, USC had posted AP Top 25 finishes in 2000 and 2001 (#19 and No. 13 respectively) and had made consecutive New Year's Day bowls for the first time in its history. Holtz finished his six-year tenure at South Carolina with a 2-4 record versus his former team, Arkansas, beating the Razorbacks in Columbia, SC in 2000 and 2004.

In 2005, the NCAA imposed three years probation and reductions in two scholarships on the program for ten admitted violations under Holtz, five of which were found to be major. The violations involved improper tutoring and off-season workouts, as well as a lack of institutional control. No games were forfeited, and no television or postseason ban was imposed. Holtz issued a statement after the sanctions were announced stating, "There was no money involved. No athletes were paid. There were no recruiting inducements. No cars. No jobs offered. No ticket scandal."[20][21]

Second retirement

On November 18, 2004, Holtz announced that he would retire at the end of the season. On November 21, 2004, the Clemson – South Carolina brawl took place during Holtz's last regular season game.[22] Instead of ending his career at a post-season bowl game, which was expected, the two universities announced that each would penalize their respective football programs for their unsportsmanlike conduct by declining any bowl game invitations.[22] At his last press conference as South Carolina's coach, Holtz said it was ironic that he and former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes both would be remembered for "getting into a fight at the Clemson game". Holtz also alluded to his assistance in recruiting his successor, Steve Spurrier.[22]

Motivational speaking

Holtz speaks to various companies and student athletes annually. Holtz is an inspiration for Andy Albright President and CEO of National Agents Alliance and spoke about leadership at the 2008 National Convention.[23] Holtz also spoke at the 2011 USF Football Kickoff Dinner in early August 2011.[24]


Holtz has written or contributed to 10 books:

  • Holtz, Lou (1974). The Grass Is Greener. [The author].  
  • Holtz, Lou; Dugan, Donald (1978). Holtz' Quotes. [s.l: s.n.]  
  • Holtz, Lou (1978). The Offensive Side of Lou Holtz. [s.l: s.n.]  
  • Holtz, Lou (1980). The Kitchen Quarterback. Little Rock, Arkansas: Parkin Prtng. Co.  
  • Holtz, Lou; Heisler, John (1989). The Fighting Spirit: A Championship Season at Notre Dame. New York: Pocket Books.  
  • Holtz, Lou (1998). Winning Every Day: The Game Plan for Success. New York: HarperBusiness.  
  • Holtz, Lou; Carpenter, Monte (2002). Quotable Lou: The Wit, Wisdom, and Inspiration of Lou Holtz, College Football's Most Colorful and Engaging Coach. Nashville, Tenn: TowleHouse Pub.  
  • Holtz, Lou (2002). A Teen's Game Plan for Life. Notre Dame, Ind: Sorin Books.  
  • Holtz, Lou (2006). Wins, Losses, and Lessons: An Autobiography. New York: Wm. Morrow.  

Broadcasting career

Holtz has worked for

External links

  1. ^ "Aikman, Cannon, Holtz head for College Football Hall of Fame". May 1, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b "Biography: Lou Holtz". real-life-training-films.com. Retrieved December 1, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Player Bio: Lou Holtz".  
  4. ^ "Biography – Lou Holtz". hickoksports.com. Retrieved December 1, 2009. 
  5. ^ (January 2, 1979) p.25Toledo BladeKindred, Dave "Eerie feeling engulfs the visitors",
  6. ^ (January 14, 1979) p D3Toledo BladeHannen, John "Bruce credentials right for Buckeyes",
  7. ^ (December 19, 1983)Associated Press"Tired, burned out Holtz quits as Arkansas coach"
  8. ^ (May 7, 2004)USA TodayPils, Douglas, "Broyles gives his side of Richardson firing",
  9. ^ "Holtz will bring his wisdom to Syracuse: Former coach speaks about his football experience", Syracuse Post-Standard (October 22, 2006)
  10. ^ (December 24, 1983)New York Times"Sports people: No politics for Holtz",
  11. ^ Ethan Trex, 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lou Holtz, Mental Floss, July 17, 2009, accessed July 31, 2013.
  12. ^ (November 27, 1985) p 1CEvening IndependentNadel, Mike, "Is Lou Holtz next for Notre Dame?"
  13. ^ "Minnesota Is Placed On 2-Year Probation". New York Times. March 28, 1991. Retrieved December 1, 2009. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f "2007 Notre Dame Media Guide: History and Records (pages 131–175)". und.cstv.com. Retrieved July 10, 2008. 
  15. ^ (December 18, 1999)Sports Illustrated"Tarnished Dome; Notre Dame placed on 2 year's probation"
  16. ^ (December 17, 1999)NCAAPHRASE WILL NOT BE REPEATED "University of Notre Dame Public Infractions Report"
  17. ^ Vikings' owners divided on Holtz. Ron Lesko. Associated Press. November 19, 1996. copy hosted on southcoasttoday.com
  18. ^ '+GREEN+SAYS+HIS+TEAM'S+IN+HUNT-a084033967 VIKINGS' GREEN SAYS HIS TEAM'S IN HUNT Lee Shappell. Arizona Republic
  19. ^ NCAA football records, p. 68.
  20. ^ (November 16, 2005)Associated Press"Gamecocks admit 5 major infractions under Holtz"
  21. ^ (August 24, 2005)USA Today"Three years of probation for South Carolina",
  22. ^ a b c Thamel, Pete (November 23, 2004). "Holtz Goes; Brawlers Won't Play On in Bowls". The New York Times. Retrieved July 28, 2008. 
  23. ^ "Lou Holtz talks about National Agents Alliance". http://www.youtube.com. Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  24. ^ "Skip & Lou Holtz Speaking at the 2011 USF Football Kickoff Dinner". http://www.youtube.com. Retrieved 2011-08-22. 
  25. ^ "Dr. Lou Holtz Drops a Hitler Reference, Continues to Make No Sense". SportingNews.com. Retrieved September 20, 2009. 
  26. ^ "Lou Holtz Might Be Taking Some Time Off". Deadspin.com. Retrieved September 20, 2009. 
  27. ^ Weiss, Dick (October 18, 2008). "Lou Holtz sorry for Hitler line". Daily News (New York). Retrieved September 20, 2009. 
  28. ^ Sandritter, Mark (April 12, 2015). "'"Lou Holtz leaves ESPN on 'mutual agreement. [i]SB Nation[/i]. Retrieved April 12, 2015. 
  29. ^ (June 18, 1999)New York TimesAyers, B Drummond Jr, "Political briefing: Funny things happen to Quayle in Dixie"
  30. ^ New York Times" (January 27, 2007)Hulse, Carl, "At lawmakers' retreat, pep talks address concerns of the new G.O.P. minority",
  31. ^ (August 4, 2009)Associated Press"Holtz considering run for Congress"
  32. ^ "Lou Holtz, Notre Dame ex-coach, considers running for Congress, GOP sources say".  
  33. ^ "Peggy – Customer Service – Lou Holtz". Discoverpeggy.com. Retrieved November 28, 2011. 
  34. ^ University of Notre Dame. "Honorary Degrees". Retrieved June 20, 2011. 
  35. ^ (April 19, 2012)AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic"AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic Hall of Fame Class of 2012"
  36. ^ "Legendary coach Lou Holtz joins Trine's board" (August 2011)
  37. ^ "Lou Holtz lends name to new program" (Oct 9, 2013)
  38. ^ "Commencement Exercises 2015". Franciscan University of Steubenville. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  39. ^ "Lou Holtz Records By Year". cfbdatawarehouse.com. Retrieved July 28, 2008. 


  1. ^ a b Holtz left Minnesota for Notre Dame before the Independence Bowl, which was coached by John Gutekunst.


See also

Team Year Regular Season Postseason
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
NYJ 1976 3 10 0 .214 4th in AFC East
Total 3 10 0 .214
Overall Total 3 10 0 .214 NFL Championships (0)



Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
William & Mary Indians (Southern Conference) (1969–1971)
1969 William & Mary 3–7 2–2 4th
1970 William & Mary 5–7 3–1 1st L Tangerine
1971 William & Mary 5–6 4–1 2nd
William & Mary: 13–20 9–4
NC State Wolfpack (Atlantic Coast Conference) (1972–1975)
1972 NC State 8–3–1 4–1–1 2nd W Peach 17
1973 NC State 9–3 6–0 1st W Liberty 16
1974 NC State 9–2–1 4–2 2nd T Astro-Bluebonnet 9 11
1975 NC State 7–4–1 2–2–1 4th L Peach
NC State: 33–12–3 16–5–2
Arkansas Razorbacks (Southwest Conference) (1977–1983)
1977 Arkansas 11–1 7–1 2nd W Orange 3 3
1978 Arkansas 9–2–1 6–2 2nd T Fiesta 10 11
1979 Arkansas 10–2 7–1 T–1st L Sugar 9 8
1980 Arkansas 7–5 3–5 6th W Hall of Fame Classic
1981 Arkansas 8–4 5–3 4th L Gator 16
1982 Arkansas 9–2–1 5–2–1 3rd W Bluebonnet 8 9
1983 Arkansas 6–5 4–4 5th
Arkansas: 60–21–2 37–18–1
Minnesota Golden Gophers (Big Ten Conference) (1984–1985)
1984 Minnesota 4–7 3–6 8th
1985 Minnesota 6–5[n 1] 4–4 6th Independence[n 1]
Minnesota: 10–12 7–10
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Independent) (1986–1996)
1986 Notre Dame 5–6
1987 Notre Dame 8–4 L Cotton 17
1988 Notre Dame 12–0 W Fiesta 1 1
1989 Notre Dame 12–1 W Orange 3 2
1990 Notre Dame 9–3 L Orange 6 6
1991 Notre Dame 10–3 W Sugar 12 13
1992 Notre Dame 10–1–1 W Cotton 4 4
1993 Notre Dame 11–1 W Cotton 2 2
1994 Notre Dame 6–5–1 L Fiesta
1995 Notre Dame 9–3 L Orange 13 11
1996 Notre Dame 8–3 21 19
Notre Dame: 100–30–2
South Carolina Gamecocks (Southeastern Conference) (1999–2004)
1999 South Carolina 0–11 0–8 6th (Eastern)
2000 South Carolina 8–4 5–3 2nd (Eastern) W Outback 21 19
2001 South Carolina 9–3 5–3 3rd (Eastern) W Outback 13 13
2002 South Carolina 5–7 3–5 4th (Eastern)
2003 South Carolina 5–7 2–6 4th (Eastern)
2004 South Carolina 6–5 4–4 3rd (Eastern)
South Carolina: 33–37 19–29
Total: 249–132–7
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
Indicates Bowl Coalition, Bowl Alliance, BCS, or CFP / New Years' Six bowl.
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.


Head coaching record

Holtz was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Notre Dame on May 22, 2011.[34] On April 19, 2012, Holtz was inducted into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame.[35] Holtz was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Education from the University of South Carolina on December 17, 2012. Holtz was awarded an honorary Doctor in Public Service from Trine University and elected to the Board of Trustees in 2011.[36] Trine also honored Holtz in 2013 by naming a program the Lou Holtz Master of Science in Leadership Program.[37] He was also awarded an honorary Doctorate in Communications from Franciscan University of Steubenville on May 9, 2015 and delivered a popular commencement address.[38] Holtz was elected to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1983, and the Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame in 1998.


Holtz married Beth Barcus on July 22, 1961 and currently resides in Republican Party politics, including his support for Helms, hosting former Vice President Dan Quayle in a 1999 fundraising tour,[29] speaking at a 2007 House Republicans strategy meeting[30] and considering entering the Republican primary for a Congressional seat in Florida in 2009.[31] However, he also made a large contribution to the campaign of Democratic Party Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2008.[32] He often appears on Hannity on the Fox News Channel. Holtz appeared as himself in a Discover Card commercial in November 2011.[33]

Personal life

[28] that Holtz was leaving ESPN.SB Nation On April 12, 2015 it was reported by [27]