Sept. 8, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Former University of Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, who coached the 1988 Irish national championship team and won 100 games in 11 seasons as Irish head coach, will be honored at halftime of the Sept. 13 Notre Dame-Michigan football game at Notre Dame Stadium for his 2008 selection to the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame.
Participating in the presentation will be National Football Foundation executive director Steve Hatchell, College Football Hall of Fame executive director Lisa Malin, former Minnesota Gopher player Michael Moe (he played for Holtz and is now a Football Foundation board member), and Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick.
Holtz was one of 13 former college players and two coaches named to the `08 class for the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A), as announced in May in New York by Archie Manning, chairman of the National Football Foundation.
The 2008 College Football Hall of Fame class will be inducted at the 51st annual awards dinner in December, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The players and coaches will be enshrined at the Hall of Fame in South Bend in July 2009.
Holtz becomes the sixth former Notre Dame coach (the Irish also have 42 former players) inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The 48 total inductees are the most of any NCAA institution, the most recent being Chris Zorich in 2007.
Holtz established himself as one of the most successful college football coaches of all time. He is the only coach in the history of college football to take five different teams to a bowl game (his ’85 Minnesota team actually qualified as a sixth, except Holtz did not coach in the bowl game since he had accepted the Notre Dame job), win four bowl games with different teams — and have four different college teams ranked in the final top 20 poll. Holtz’s 249-132-7 career record for 33 seasons ranked him third in victories among active coaches at the time of his retirement and eighth in winning percentage. His 12 career postseason bowl victories rank him fourth on the all-time list.
He became the 27th head coach at Notre Dame following two seasons at Minnesota (1984-85), seven at Arkansas (1977-83), four at North Carolina State (1972-75) and three at William & Mary (1969-71). He later spent six seasons (1999-2004) as head coach at South Carolina. He served the 1976 season as head coach of the New York Jets of the National Football League. Twenty-three of the 33 collegiate teams under his direction earned post-season bowl invitations — and 18 finished in the final Associated Press top 25, eight in the top 10.
Holtz earned a sterling reputation for turning pretenders into contenders — for taking football programs and elevating them a level or two on their way to the top 20. But nowhere did he do that as impressively as at Notre Dame. He needed only two years to put the Fighting Irish back into a major post-season bowl game for the first time in seven seasons. Holtz proved he could take the Irish back to the ranks of college football’s elite and keep them there on a consistent basis.
He also developed a well-earned reputation as an expert when it came to knocking off highly-ranked opponents. That ability was particularly well displayed in bowl games, with his team recording wins on Jan. 1 in five of seven seasons (1988-94) against teams with a combined record of 74-4-1, all of them ranked seventh or higher in the AP poll.
In his 11 seasons at Notre Dame, Holtz chalked up more victories than the number accumulated by any Irish coach other than Rockne — including the consensus national championship in 1988, and a 23-game winning streak that ranks as the longest in Notre Dame history. With an overall 100-30-2 mark during those 11 years, his accomplishments included three wins against top-ranked opponents (Miami in ’88, Colorado in the ’90 Orange Bowl, Florida State in ’93). When the Irish met Florida in the 1996 Orange Bowl, it was the ninth straight year Holtz had taken Notre Dame to the traditional January post-season bowls (Cotton Bowl following 1987, 1992 and 1993 campaigns, Fiesta in 1988 and 1994, Orange in 1989, 1990 and 1995, Sugar in 1991). That’s something no other coach in the country has matched.
After his departure from Notre Dame following the `96 season, he joined CBS Sports’ College Football Today for two seasons as an analyst and also worked with United States Filter (a global provider of water treatment) as a customer relations spokesman. From there he went on to be head coach at South Carolina for six seasons and led the Gamecocks to back-to-back Jan. 1 bowl games for the first time in the history of the school.
Currently, Holtz serves as a college football studio analyst on ESPN and also is an on-site analyst for college football games.
For years Holtz has been considered among the great speakers in America today. He speaks on overcoming seemingly impossible challenges by setting your own goals and working to achieve them.
Holtz has authored three New York Times best-selling books, including The Fighting Spirit that chronicled Notre Dame’s 1988 championship season and Winning Everyday: A Game Plan For Success (Aug. 1998), which has been published in several languages. His latest book (released Aug. 2006) is Wins, Losses and Lessons, an autobiography of his life and the lessons he has learned, and it is also a best seller. Additionally, he has produced four highly acclaimed motivational videos — Do Right, Do Right II, If Enough People Care, and Do Right 20 Years Later. The Lou Holtz Hall of Fame opened in East Liverpool, Ohio, in July 1998.
The Walter Camp Football Foundation presents an award annually to an individual who has attained a measure of success and been a leader in his chosen profession, and it named Lou Holtz its 1998 Man of the Year. In 1977, while in Arkansas, he was named national coach of the year by the Camp Foundation. In 2008 he received the Moose Krause Man of the Year Award from the Notre Dame Monogram Club for his off-the-field contributions.
Born Louis Leo Holtz on Jan. 6, 1937, Holtz grew up in East Liverpool, Ohio, just up the Ohio River from his Follansbee, W.Va., birthplace. He graduated from East Liverpool High School, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in history from Kent State in 1959 and a master’s degree from Iowa in arts and education in 1961. He played linebacker at Kent State for two seasons before an injury ended his career.
Married to Beth Barcus of East Liverpool on July 22, 1961, Holtz and his wife are the parents of four children and currently reside in Orlando, Fla.
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