American Football Database
Lou Holtz

Lou Holtz in July 2007
Biographical details
Born (1937-01-06) January 6, 1937 (age 85)
Follansbee, West Virginia
Playing career
1956–1957Kent State
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Iowa (assistant)
William & Mary (assistant)
Connecticut (assistant)
South Carolina (assistant)
Ohio State (assistant)
William & Mary
NC State
New York Jets
Notre Dame
South Carolina
Head coaching record
Overall249–132–7 (college)
3–10 (NFL)
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 retired American football coach, and active sportscaster, author, and motivational speaker. 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 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

Holtz was born in Follansbee, WV 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, and graduated in 1959. 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 Ohio State Buckeyes won the national championship during Holtz's season with the team.

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 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.[citation needed]

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 suggested it may have been due to controversy over his having taped two television advertisements from his coach's office endorsing the re-election of Jesse Helms as Senator from North Carolina.[10]


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.[11] Years later, the NCAA placed Minnesota on two years probation for 17 rule violations, two of which were committed by Holtz during his tenure.[12]

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 and the 2013 BCS National Championship Game against Alabama, 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.[13] 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.[13]

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.[13] 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 1988 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[13]) 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.[13] He also took the Irish to bowl games for nine consecutive seasons, still a Notre Dame record.[13]

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 former Notre Dame student, 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."[14][15]

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

Lou Holtz's option offense, which helped catapult Notre Dame to many victories in the late 1980s and early 1990's, 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.[citation needed] When pressed, all he would say was, "It was the right thing to do." One of the leading rumors for him leaving is the University "pushed" him out because they did not want him to have more wins than Knute Rockne's 105 wins, which he probably would have exceeded had he coached one more year. Knute Rockne still holds the record for most wins as Notre Dame Head Coach. He was succeeded by defensive coordinator Bob Davie.

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.[16] Of the rumors surrounding the reasons for Holtz's retirement, one of them was the possible Vikings head coaching position.[17]

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.[18] 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. 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.

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."[19][20]

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.[21] 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.[21] 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.[21]

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.[22]

Holtz also spoke at the 2011 USF Football Kickoff Dinner in early August 2011.[23]

Holtz also spoke at Benedictine College located in Atchison, Kansas in August 2012. Lou quoted his book "Winning Everyday" in his speech.

Lou Holtz spoke at the December graduation at the University of South Carolina in 2012. Lou Holtz praised the Gamecocks' football team during the speech saying the program is now one of the best in the nation.


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 currently works in the same capacity for the cable network ESPN. He works on the secondary studio team, located in Bristol as opposed to the game site. He typically appears on pregame, halftime, and postgame shows of college football games. In addition, he appears on College Football Scoreboard, College Football Final, College Football Live, SportsCenter, and the occasional game. He typically partners 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.[24][25] 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.[26]

Personal life

Holtz married Beth Barcus on July 22, 1961. 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. Holtz is a devout Roman Catholic and was a guest on the Blessed2Play radio show where he discussed his career and faith life with host Ron Meyer. Listen to the Blessed2Play interview here Holtz also spoke to the National Catholic Register in 2012:

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,[27] speaking at a 2007 House Republicans strategy meeting[28] and considering entering the Republican primary for a Congressional seat in Florida in 2009.[29] However, he also made a large contribution to the campaign of Democratic Party Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2008.[30] He often appears on Hannity on the Fox News Channel. Holtz appeared as himself in a Discover Card commercial in November 2011.[31]


Holtz was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Notre Dame on May 22, 2011.[32] On April 19, 2012, Holtz was inducted into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame.[33] Holtz was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Education from the University of South Carolina on December 17, 2012.

Head coaching record


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 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 (East)
2000 South Carolina 8–4 5–3 2nd (East) W Outback 21 19
2001 South Carolina 9–3 5–3 3rd (East) W Outback 13 13
2002 South Carolina 5–7 3–5 4th (East)
2003 South Carolina 5–7 2–6 4th (East)
2004 South Carolina 6–5 4–4 3rd (East)
South Carolina: 33–37 19–29
Total: 249–132–7
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final Coaches' Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.



Team Year Regular Season Postseason
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
NYJ 1976 3 11 0 .214 4th in AFC East
Total 3 11 0 .214
Overall Total 3 11 0 .214 NFL Championships (0)

See also


  1. "Aikman, Cannon, Holtz head for College Football Hall of Fame". May 1, 2008.[dead link]
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Biography: Lou Holtz". Retrieved December 1, 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "Player Bio: Lou Holtz". CSTV. Retrieved December 1, 2009.
  4. "Biography – Lou Holtz". Retrieved December 1, 2009.
  5. Kindred, Dave "Eerie feeling engulfs the visitors", Toledo Blade (January 2, 1979) p.25
  6. Hannen, John "Bruce credentials right for Buckeyes", Toledo Blade (January 14, 1979) p D3
  7. "Tired, burned out Holtz quits as Arkansas coach" Associated Press (December 19, 1983)
  8. Pils, Douglas, "Broyles gives his side of Richardson firing", USA Today (May 7, 2004)
  9. "Holtz will bring his wisdom to Syracuse: Former coach speaks about his football experience", Syracuse Post-Standard (October 22, 2006)
  10. "Sports people: No politics for Holtz", New York Times (December 24, 1983)
  11. Nadel, Mike, "Is Lou Holtz next for Notre Dame?" Evening Independent (November 27, 1985) p 1C
  12. "Minnesota Is Placed On 2-Year Probation". New York Times. March 28, 1991. Retrieved December 1, 2009.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 "2007 Notre Dame Media Guide: History and Records (pages 131–175)". Retrieved July 10, 2008.
  14. "Tarnished Dome; Notre Dame placed on 2 year's probation" Sports Illustrated (December 18, 1999)
  15. PHRASE WILL NOT BE REPEATED "University of Notre Dame Public Infractions Report" NCAA (December 17, 1999)
  16. Vikings' owners divided on Holtz. Ron Lesko. Associated Press. November 19, 1996. copy hosted on
  17. VIKINGS' GREEN SAYS HIS TEAM'S IN HUNT Lee Shappell. Arizona Republic
  18. NCAA football records, p. 68.
  19. "Gamecocks admit 5 major infractions under Holtz" Associated Press (November 16, 2005)
  20. "Three years of probation for South Carolina", USA Today (August 24, 2005)
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Thamel, Pete (November 23, 2004). "Holtz Goes; Brawlers Won't Play On in Bowls". The New York Times. Retrieved July 28, 2008.
  22. "Lou Holtz talks about National Agents Alliance". Retrieved 2009-02-05.
  23. "Skip & Lou Holtz Speaking at the 2011 USF Football Kickoff Dinner". Retrieved 2011-08-22.
  24. "Dr. Lou Holtz Drops a Hitler Reference, Continues to Make No Sense".,_continues_to_make_no_sense. Retrieved September 20, 2009.
  25. "Lou Holtz Might Be Taking Some Time Off". Retrieved September 20, 2009.
  26. Weiss, Dick (October 18, 2008). "Lou Holtz sorry for Hitler line". Daily News (New York). Retrieved September 20, 2009.
  27. Ayers, B Drummond Jr, "Political briefing: Funny things happen to Quayle in Dixie" New York Times (June 18, 1999)
  28. Hulse, Carl, "At lawmakers' retreat, pep talks address concerns of the new G.O.P. minority", New York Times" (January 27, 2007)
  29. "Holtz considering run for Congress" Associated Press (August 4, 2009)
  30. "Lou Holtz, Notre Dame ex-coach, considers running for Congress, GOP sources say". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
  31. "Peggy – Customer Service – Lou Holtz". Retrieved November 28, 2011.
  32. University of Notre Dame. "Honorary Degrees". Retrieved June 20, 2011.
  33. "AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic Hall of Fame Class of 2012" AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic (April 19, 2012)
  34. "Lou Holtz Records By Year". Retrieved July 28, 2008.


External links

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