April 21, 2007
Lou Holtz: I don’t know what I’m supposed to say except I was impressed with the athletes, their attitude, their hitting on the field, their intensity. They will be fine on defense. Very impressed with the secondary. Impressed with the hard running on both sides. I think that they will be fine with the quarterback once they settle on it; they have several good candidates.
I think defensively you have to be impressed. The secondary moved well. Very well?coached. I did not expect to see a defense that was as physical and played as hard as they did today in a spring game.
You know, it was just good to come back. I have 149 football players coming to a dinner tonight, so that’s the main reason I came back here. And I support Charlie. I think he’s done a marvelous job to take the team to two BCS Bowls in two years. That’s not easy to do.
I don’t know why I’m here but I’ll answer any questions. (Laughter) Now, we’ll start with him ?? that’s where I left off. (Laughter).
Q. You were on the wrong sideline. How did you wander over to that sideline?
Lou Holtz: You know, I don’t know how to turn on the computer let alone get on the Internet, but I had seven people call me or tell me, “You’ve got the bad team.” Doesn’t mean anything to me. Came here and toss of the coin, my captain tossed the coin, first they tried to use a one?sided coin, every time you toss it, it came up the same side. Tommy Zbikowski won the toss, so we got to choose the home sideline and the home locker room, and he chose the visiting locker room and the visiting sideline. And I said why, I think that was prearranged, according to him. So we’re just meant to be on the other sideline. You know, it still felt like you were at Notre Dame. You saw the Notre Dame people. You really don’t notice much difference. It wasn’t like you were on the other sideline.
I tell you one thing, you don’t throw Gatorade on a guy at 70 years old in a spring game when it’s not expected. I could have had a heart attack and sued Notre Dame for a lot of money. (Laughter).
Q. I notice you had the headset on early on and took it off later and just wanted to get involved with the action there?
Lou Holtz: No, they were great. Rob Ianello was tremendous. I would say run inside, run outside, throw play?action, go deep, etc., and he would try to correspond the call. Then the headset didn’t work. I think he pulled the plug on his, I don’t know. But that was all.
And just the main thing that ?? I just tried to get them to laugh, and tried to get them to have fun. I think that’s so important here at Notre Dame that you laugh and have fun because there’s pressure on you in every area of your life, that’s all.
But I had fun. I don’t know if they did, but I did.
Q. What did you say to Evan Sharpley when he took that sack at the end of the second quarter there?
Lou Holtz: Well, we just prayed on it a little bit. (Laughter) It’s just, you know, you don’t win because you make the great play; you win because you eliminate the bad play.
We had no more time?outs and you know, I’m always open on the sideline. We should have had a chance for a field goal but you learn from that. And football is a game of physical, but it’s also a game of mental.
You know, these are all hopefully a learning experience and hopefully they will all benefit from it. That’s all learning. I just tried to make it a learning experience for them, that was all. My initial reaction was ?? then you calm down and say, well, I not going to help the situation that I ran, so just call me, talk about it a little bit, that’s all.
Q. Coach Weis mentioned that last year there was so much of a reliance on leaning on No. 10, Brady Quinn, that they have to be more of a complementary team this year where offense, defense and special teams all play together. You can relate to that, your third year, you lost Tim Brown who won the Heisman; can you talk about the pressures that you feel on relying on a superstar individual and then going to the team format?
Lou Holtz: I think that Charlie is really having a great recruiting year. He has obviously some good talent because they have had good recruiting. You never know when a team is going to blossom, come together.
But you’re right, the third year we lost Tim Brown, we lost a good athlete. We lost some good young athletes that were ready to play, but we also had better than good senior leadership on defense, we had Michael Stamp, Bishop; we were young in the secondary, young in the defensive line, but we had good leadership.
I think you go back to ’93, also. ’93 was really a very excellent team, unknown, Kevin MacDougal was quarterback and Paul Braylin (ph) came in and did a good job. That’s the thing about young players, they mature and step up and they will surprise you. And the most ?? the best way you improve your football team is for everybody on the team to get better, and it’s just like I believe this football team will be vastly improved when they report in the fall. I mean, it just happens. You go through 15 days of spring practice and you have a chance to be healthy and start working out and get anxious; and the second time around, you will be much, much better.
I think if the team improves, which I’m sure they will in the off?season, I think Notre Dame is going to be a very solid football team. They have to get the quarterback situation straightened away yet. You know, they alternated four quarterbacks today but they will narrow that down. How they will do that, I don’t know.
I think once they narrow it down and get the receivers ?? we didn’t get a chance to really see the receiver situation an awful lot today, but I do want you to know this. I threw it to the tight end four times, and we didn’t complete but one I think. I hold it up to you now; now you know why I didn’t throw it to the tight end, there it is.
But no, I just think the quarterback receiver, they get that separate, I think they are very solid everywhere else.
Q. Your love for the game and your desire to be on the sideline and coaching, do you think that that will ever fade away for you?
Lou Holtz: I’ve got to be honest, I do not miss coaching. It was fun to be there, etc., but I doubt it. I did it for many, many years. It’s a young man’s game. Step back and let the young people take it. It’s a new generation. It’s time for other people to move on.
It’s time, I just talk and think of something to say on TV. Skip is coaching and he’s done a marvelous job at East Carolina and when I get an urge to coach, I’ll call skip and say, “Tell me what problems you had today.” And when he gets done with that, I go out and tee up the golf ball and think about it ?? but no, I’m done. It’s a young man’s game. Let other people do it.
Q. Does the work you do, the studio work, does that replace the void for you or is it completely different?
Lou Holtz: Well, it is different. I’ve always felt this, everybody needs four things to do. Everybody needs something to do, someone to love, something to hope for and something to believe in.
When you do television work, you have to learn names, statistics; you’ve got to be able to think. We don’t have teleprompter, and it keeps my mind active which I think is very, very important at my age.
But as far as coaching, no, let the young people do it. This is, God bless them and I will stand by them and applaud them and help them.
Q. You don’t miss the 20?hour days?
Lou Holtz: It never really was a 20?hour day. I’ll tell you one thing I did miss today, and that’s really the relationship with the players, joking with them, getting them to laugh, trying to get them to improve, etc.
I just went like they were my guys and I had to say, hey, just be nice, but they are a wonderful group. He’s got a very, very healthy program here. As a matter of fact, I’m proud of what Notre Dame has done in all of their athletic programs, whether it be women’s soccer or anything else, they have just done a marvelous job. This football team is going to be a very, very good football team.
Q. How, what specifically impressed you about the defense and changing coordinators, how difficult is that to do?
Lou Holtz: Well, you remember this from ’87 to ’88, we changed defensive coordinators when Coach Baggio (ph) went into the pros and I elevated Barry Alavarez (ph) and I think we went 23?1 the next two years.
But I just think that the guy’s got great leadership. I’m very impressed with him. I listen to him, talk to the players and relate to the players.
I went down and spoke to the St. Louis Cardinals at Tony LaRussa’s request about two weeks ago and Bill Parcells was down there at that time, and I was visiting with Bill and had great things to say about the defensive coordinators. So I was anxious to meet him and just the way he relates.
Now I think the thing is, they keep the ball contained, they keep good leverage on the football and their secondary breaks very, very well on the football. I mean, Wooden made a break on that half?back pass or the pass?back the quarterback got was wide open. Just watching them, the relationship to the receiver in comparison with the ball was very, very impressive.
So I know they were not challenged by the receivers, but I think everything starts with the secondary and starts with playing your position.
Ara, you know more about it than I do.
Ara Parseghian: Are you kidding? I don’t know anything about it.
Q. Coach Holtz, after watching you on ESPN, you always give the Irish a chance to win and this season, how do you think they will compete?
Lou Holtz: I didn’t know. We all have a tendency to look at what we lost instead of what we have coming back. I really didn’t know. I had reservations.
But after coming up here, talking to the coaches, visiting with the athletes, watching them compete, I think they will compete very, very well.
The one thing that I notice is they do not have an open date until November; is that correct? And I’m going to tell you, that is a problem here at Notre Dame. Because the one recommendation I made when I left here was always try to have an open date in the middle to early October. Because that’s when you’re going through midterm exams and they are like zombies. Every big upset that we occurred, occurred at that week. I’m talking about the one time we lost to Brigham Young; the one time we lost to the Air Force Academy; the upset at Tennessee. It always comes ?? they are like zombies, and this will be the first year in quite a while they have not had an open date in October.
The early part of the schedule is difficult. I think Georgia Tech is always tough, but you play them at home; I think Penn State if Morrelli plays as well as he did, Penn State will be a little bit difficult; and then you have Michigan. You’ll be fine. In the latter part of the year, I think you’re going to finish very, very strong.
But I would say that ?? I would pick them top 15 right now. I think they will finish the season in the top 15 based on what I’ve seen and based on what I know.
But once again, I’m the same guy that made some bad picks in the past, but I don’t think this one will be.
Q. I was wondering how it felt for both you guys to be back on the sidelines coaching again.
Ara Parseghian: No, it was fun coming down through the tunnel. I have not been through there since 1974, 33 years ago.
As I approached the sideline, you know, you’re fluttered with memories of 11 years that you were here. We had a lot of exciting games. That’s what went through my mind as I was coming out on the field, particularly when I get to the sideline.
It was a nice experience to go through.
Lou Holtz: For me, just the relationship with the players, being able to joke with them. I start joking with them in the locker room. Once we got in the visiting team locker room and then at half?time, I started getting them laughing a little bit.
To me, it’s just getting the relationship with the players. You really miss that was a coach. Tony Rice has been here, and like I said, I have 151 athletes, but watching Ara Parseghian with Ross Browner ?? I don’t know how long Ross Browner ?? 30 years ago did he play for you? The relationship they had, you just can’t make happen. There are people that live together for 35 years that don’t have the relationship they have in four years. That’s what it’s about; how do you have that relationship. By dealing with young people and when you deal with young people, it keeps you young.
I do miss dealing with young people. I say I don’t miss coaching. Let me say this; I can live without coaching, but coaching is a very special thing, it really and truly is. You have a chance to be significant. Successful is when you make money and when you die, that ends. But when you’re significant is when you help other people achieve success. That’s what coaches have done and that’s what you really and truly miss.
Sometimes you foul them up, too. I’m sure I’ve got a lot of people at night that tell me I’ve fouled them up and they would have been much greater if I’d shut my mouth, but be that as it may, I appreciate the opportunity to be here, and I predict a very long, good season for Notre Dame.
And I tell you something else, what a great spring game turn out, that was impressive. But thank you all for having me.
Q. Ara, could you talk about your general impressions of this Notre Dame team and what you saw out there today?
Ara Parseghian: I only got a snapshot of it. I looked at some spring film this morning just to get a general idea, and the thing about it, the quarters were so short, the game was so fast, and they were interchanging the personnel. So it was hard to draw a real beat on it.
What I did see, a general overall opinion, is if you look to me that they are improved defensively, particularly in the secondary, where they gave up some cheap scores last year, last couple years as a matter of fact, which really were critical. It appeared to me that they are very much improved there and they hit well. It’s hard, really, to get a complete opinion of it because of the shortness of the game.
If we’d had one quarterback play the whole game, you’d have gotten an impression of that individual. But you’re going back and forth. So it looked to me like Clausen has got a lot of talent. I thought that Demetrius has got great speed, very athletic guy, and Zach Frazer looks like he’s got talent. Looks like he’s got a great arm. And Sharpley ?? they have got four guys they can work with.
I’ll tell you right now, one of those guys will emerge and be talented this fall, that’s my opinion, because there’s enough ?? they have got good arms. All of them have good arms. I suppose Demetrius has a little bit more speed and athleticism and the other ones that are in the hunt, but they have got the ability to throw the football.
Q. When you were in a situation where you had starter incumbent leaving and you were picking a new quarterback and you were trying to zero in on choosing the guy to do that ??
Ara Parseghian: Well, it’s interesting because we are now in 2007. Things were different back then when I was coaching.
What we look for, we did not try to force a particular offense on a group of youngsters that weren’t capable of handling ?? maybe there was something I wanted to do offensively. But the players dictated what our offensive philosophy would be. I’m not going to try to run an offense with a power team and inversely I wouldn’t do it the other way. Whatever our talent was, do we have a running back quarterback or a pocket?pass quarterback; do we have a slashing?type runner that can go all the way, or one that can go in and get the yards when you want it?
So when you go through these spring practices, and in the fall you make a determination of what the capabilities of what your talent is and then you utilize that, their best efforts. We never tried to leave a guy on the bench that had good talent. There are countless numbers of guys in 11 years that I was here that were quarterbacks that got beat up, but they had talent and they wound up making All?American in the defensive secondary. Obviously they wanted to play quarterback, but of course you talk to them about, how they could help the team.
And so our philosophy back in those days was certain things we’d like to do, but we can’t do them if they can’t do them. Try to feature their strong suits.
Q. Coach Holtz said something about your relationship with Ross Browner. Can you comment on your relationship with him and also what he was like as a player for you?
Ara Parseghian: Ross Browner was one of the best football players that I’ve ever had. We had him at defensive end and he was devastating. Teams would stay away from running to that side. And his pass rush was really remarkable.
And of course, he went into pro football and demonstrated the kind of player that he was. And he’s got a terrific personality. He’s an outstanding individual and just like Lou was saying, the interaction you have with your players, you’re living together. I mean, you’re seeing one another every day. You go to meals together; you have meetings together; you go to war together, and during your time in the game ?? and so as a result, the relationship I had with my players and the things that I missed the most when I stepped aside ?? when you’re on the practice field, and as Lou said, you kid with them and joke with them and get to know their personalities; and get to looking 200 yards away and you know exactly who the guy is walking across there just by his mannerisms and the way he walks and carries itself. So it really becomes a family.
When I won the National Championship in 1973 in New Orleans against Alabama, I remember holding the trophy up and saying, “This is for the Notre Dame family,” because that’s what it is and was and that’s why it’s been successful, the tradition of Notre Dame.