Tripti Joshi (Editor)

Lou Holtz

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Sport(s)  Football
Name  Lou Holtz
1956–1957  Kent State
Role  American football player

Position(s)  Linebacker
1960  Iowa (assistant)
Children  Skip Holtz
Lou Holtz Lou Holtz Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Born  January 6, 1937 (age 79) Follansbee, West Virginia (1937-01-06)
1961–1963  William & Mary (assistant)
1964–1965  Connecticut (assistant)
Books  Wins, Losses, and Lessons: An Autobiography
TV shows  College GameDay (Football), College Football Final, College Football Live, College Football Scoreboard
Similar People  Skip Holtz, Mark May, Steve Spurrier, Lee Corso, Nick Saban

Past teams coached  New York Jets (1976–1976)

Respect: Lou's 1st Locker Room Speech - 125 Years of ND Football - Moment #089

Louis Leo 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 New York Jets (1976), 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.


Lou Holtz Lou Holtz Speaker Contact Booking Agent For Fees

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.

Jaylon smith interviews lou holtz

Early life and coaching career

Lou Holtz Notre Dame Graduates Soaked By Lou Holtz39s Saliva During

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 Officers' 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. 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

Lou Holtz Lou Holtz Quotes Integrity QuotesGram

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 a berth in the Tangerine Bowl.

North Carolina State

Lou Holtz espnmediazonecomusfiles201212LouHoltzjpg

In 1972, Holtz moved to North Carolina State University and had a 33–12–3 record in four seasons. His first three teams achieved final Top 20 rankings, including a final Top 10 finish in the 1974 Coaches Poll. His 1973 team won the ACC Championship. His Wolfpack teams played in four bowl games, going 2–1–1. 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 wouldn't come to Tulane. Following the 1975 season, Holtz accepted an offer to leave college football and become the head coach of the NFL's New York Jets.

New York Jets

Lou Holtz Lou Holtz ESPNDrLou Twitter

Holtz's lone foray into the professional ranks began when he was appointed as head coach of the New York Jets on February 10, 1976. He was selected over Johnny Majors, Darryl Rogers, and Marv Levy. Holtz resigned ten months later on December 9 with the Jets at 3–10 and one game remaining in the 1976 season. Upon his departure, he lamented, "God did not put Lou Holtz on this earth to coach in the pros." Holtz's jump to the NFL as head coach for only thirteen games with a 3–10 record before returning to the college game with Arkansas would be duplicated by Bobby Petrino 31 years later in 2007.


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. 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. 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.

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. Broyles testified 20 years later that he had fired Holtz because he was losing the fan base with things he said and did. Holtz confirmed that he had been fired, but that Broyles never gave him a reason, 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.


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. His contract purportedly included a "Notre Dame clause" that allowed him to leave if that coaching job were to become available.

However, Holtz's tenure at Minnesota was not without controversy. Just prior to the 1991 Orange Bowl, the NCAA implicated the Holtz-era Golden Gophers for recruiting violations. Sanctions handed down in March 1991 included a bowl ban in 1992 for the Golden Gophers and "two more years ... [of] continued probation," according to the Chicago Tribune.

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 2012 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. 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.

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. 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) 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. He also took the Irish to bowl games for nine consecutive seasons, still a Notre Dame record.

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."

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.

Occasionally, despite his lack of success with the N.Y. Jets, he was rumored to be leaving Notre Dame for the NFL. Following a 6-10 season in 1990 and an 8-8 showing in 1991, the Minnesota Vikings were rumored to replace Jerry Burns with Holtz. However, Holtz denied these rumors each of those two seasons. Holtz remained at Notre Dame; the Vikings, meanwhile, hired Dennis Green to replace the retired Jerry Burns. Ironically, as shown below, Holtz nearly replaced Green five years later.

First retirement

Lou Holtz left Notre Dame after the 1996 season and walked away from a lifetime contract for undisclosed reasons. 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. Of the rumors surrounding the reasons for Holtz's retirement, one of them was the possible Vikings head coaching position.

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. 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.

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. 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."

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. 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. 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.

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 their 2008 National Convention. Holtz also spoke at the 2011 USF Football Kickoff Dinner in early August 2011.


Holtz has written or contributed to 10 books:

  • Holtz, Lou (1974). The Grass Is Greener. [The author]. OCLC 41773996. 
  • Holtz, Lou; Dugan, Donald (1978). Holtz' Quotes. [s.l: s.n.] OCLC 4468721. 
  • Holtz, Lou (1978). The Offensive Side of Lou Holtz. [s.l: s.n.] OCLC 4851306. 
  • Holtz, Lou (1980). The Kitchen Quarterback. Little Rock, Arkansas: Parkin Prtng. Co. OCLC 6714133. 
  • Holtz, Lou; Heisler, John (1989). The Fighting Spirit: A Championship Season at Notre Dame. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 978-0-671-67673-5. OCLC 20180739. 
  • Holtz, Lou (1998). Winning Every Day: The Game Plan for Success. New York: HarperBusiness. ISBN 978-0-88730-904-5. OCLC 39451210. 
  • 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. ISBN 978-1-931249-18-8. OCLC 49942729. 
  • Holtz, Lou (2002). A Teen's Game Plan for Life. Notre Dame, Ind: Sorin Books. ISBN 978-1-893732-53-7. OCLC 49519284. 
  • Alvarez, Barry; Lucas, Mike; Holtz, Lou; Patterson, James (2006). Don't Flinch: Barry Alvarez, the Autobiography : the Story of Wisconsin's All-Time Winningest Coach. Champaign, IL: KCI Sports Ventures. ISBN 978-0-9758769-7-8. OCLC 71325993. 
  • Holtz, Lou (2006). Wins, Losses, and Lessons: An Autobiography. New York: Wm. Morrow. ISBN 978-0-06-084080-8. OCLC 65165505. 
  • Broadcasting career

    Holtz has worked for CBS Sports as a college football analyst and in the same capacity for the cable network ESPN. He worked on the secondary studio team, located in Bristol as opposed to the game site. He typically appeared on pregame, halftime, and postgame shows of college football games. In addition, he appeared on College Football Scoreboard, College Football Final, College Football Live, SportsCenter, and the occasional game. He typically partnered with Rece Davis and Mark May. Holtz came under scrutiny after referencing Adolf Hitler in an on-air comment while appearing on College Football Live in 2008. In his analysis of Michigan Wolverines head coach Rich Rodriguez, Holtz stated sarcastically, "Ya know, Hitler was a great leader, too." The next day, Holtz apologized for the comment during halftime of a game between Clemson and Georgia Tech. On April 12, 2015 it was reported by SB Nation that Holtz was leaving ESPN.

    Personal life

    Holtz married Beth Barcus on July 22, 1961 and currently resides in Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Orlando, Florida. They are parents of four children, three of whom are Notre Dame graduates. Their eldest son, Skip, is the head football coach at Louisiana Tech University. Holtz is on the Catholic Advisory Board of the Ave Maria Mutual Funds, and gives motivational speeches. Coach Holtz is a member at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. On June 23, 2015, Holtz's Lake Nona home was damaged by a house fire that was most likely triggered by a lightning strike.

    Holtz has long been active in Republican Party politics, including his support for Helms, hosting former Vice President Dan Quayle in a 1999 fundraising tour, speaking at a 2007 House Republicans strategy meeting and considering entering the Republican primary for a Congressional seat in Florida in 2009. However, he also made a large contribution to the campaign of Democratic Party Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2008. He often appears on Hannity on the Fox News Channel. In 2016, Holtz endorsed Donald Trump for president. Holtz appeared as himself in a Discover Card commercial in November 2011.


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



    Coaching tree

    Assistant coaches under Lou Holtz who became NCAA or NFL head coaches:

  • Bob Davie: Notre Dame (1997–2001), New Mexico (2012 to present)
  • Skip Holtz: Connecticut (1994–1998), East Carolina (2005–2009), South Florida (2010–2012), Louisiana Tech (2013–present)
  • Dean Pees: Kent State (1998–2003)
  • Rick Stockstill: Middle Tennessee (2006–present)
  • John Thompson: East Carolina (2003–2004)
  • References

    Lou Holtz Wikipedia