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Lou Holz: A Legacy Of Winning

Aug 17, 2007
Lou Holz is a former NCAA football coach who led a very successful career, taking six different programs to bowl games and guiding four different programs to final top 20 rankings. Holtz was born in Follansbee, West Virginia on January 6, 1937, grew up in Liverpool, Ohio and graduated from Kent State University. He began his career as coaching assistant from the years1960-1968 for such schools as the University of Iowa, William and Mary, Connecticut, South Carolina and Ohio State, respectively.

He landed his first job as head coach at William and Mary where in 1970 he led the Tribe to a Southern Conference win and a chance to play in the Tangerine Bowl. Thereafter Holtz moved on to North Carolina State University in 1972, leading his team to four bowl games, winning all but two games. (Shortly thereafter Holtz spent a year with the New York Jets in 1976, but he resigned before the season ended)

The next several decades were very successful. He spent 7 years at the University of Arkansas in 1977 and led the Razorbacks to six bowl games. From 1984 to 1986 he coached at the University of Minnesota, leading the Golden Gophers to a win in 1985. His eyes were really set on Notre Dame, however, an opportunity which opened up for him in 1986. There, as a "turnaround artist", he led the defeated Fighting Irish to an appearance in the Cotton Bowl and a 34-21 win against West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl. By 1993 the Irish earned a second place ranking in the AP poll.

Strangely, Holtz suddenly retired from his lifetime contract at Notre Dame in 1996. His wife had throat cancer at the time, and some believe this is the reason he left. After serving as commentator for CBS Sports, however, he reemerged again in 1999 to lead the South Carolina Gamecocks to two wins against Ohio State in the Outback Bowl.

Holtz finally retired for good in 2004. During his career he wrote a number of motivational books, such as The Fighting Spirit: A Championship Season at Notre Dame (1989), Winning Every Day (1999) and his autobiography Wins, Losses, and Lessons (2006). He provides football analysis for ESPN, delivers motivational talks, and of his four children, the eldest, Skip serves as head football coach at East Carolina. Holtz lives with his wife Beth Barcus, whom he married on July 22, 1961.
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