Nov. 5, 1996
Off The Practice Field…Coach Lou Holtz
COACH HOLTZ: (Inaudible.) I don’t know how threatening that surgery will be, that will be determined in the future, but we found out about it late last night and we’ll go from there. I visited with Scott today and he has a tremendous attitude about it. But we’ll certainly miss him. He’s been a great asset. He has one more exam tomorrow, and doesn’t have any after that, and he doesn’t know if he’ll be back after that or not. It makes everything else seem rather pale.
Looking back at the Ireland trip, let’s talk about the Ireland game, first. Played awfully well this year, and I can’t say enough good things about Alton Maiden and Renaldo Wynn. They consistently play great. Kory Minor played his greatest game. Renaldo Wynn ran back for a touchdown, really played well. Kinnon Tatum had 11 tackles and a half. He didn’t play the second half. We thought his hand was broken, but x-rays are negative. It’s a bad bruise. He’ll be okay for Boston College. And of course Cobbins is just playing very well very, very well, along with Bert Berry.
The one young lineman that played well for us was Mike Doughty. Mike played probably the best performance turned in by our backs. Talking about fullbacks, running backs and quarterbacks combined. We had the one fumble, it was the only time the ball was on the ground. Offensive line played pretty well, but Mike Doughty was exceptional.
I thought we ran the ball well. When I looked at the film we didn’t play as well fundamentally as I would have liked, but we played with pretty good intensity during the course of the game. It was nice to see our second team get in there and function like they had been at practice before.
Our kicking game, we missed the extra point, which was disturbing. And the only opportunity we had to run back at kickoff, we did a nice job bringing it back to about the 50. The rest of the time we at least fielded the short punts, started — our average field position was at 35, I think. We fouled up a little bit on punt protection. I thought our punt return was good. We’re getting a lot of productivity out of our punt return now, as long as we can field the ball.
The trip to Ireland was tiring. It seemed like such a short week. We’re way behind in our preparation for Boston College, although we have made up a tremendous amount of ground since arriving back on campus about 8:00, 8:30 on Sunday evening. And graded the field and started on Boston College, we practiced them late yesterday, last night, due to the fact that we wanted to have as much preparation time as we could have. But it really hurt us academically. We must have had 12, 14 players that missed practice, maybe more, because of academic commitments. Now, we’ll go out and prepare as best we can today. Today will be a physical, hard work in our preparation.
I hope we can pick up offensively from where we left the Navy game, but we have to be more productive in throwing the football. Our receivers blocked pretty well, but were not productive when we threw the ball to the wide receivers. I think it’s a step in the right direction, and certainly not where we want it to be, but certainly a step in the right direction.
Other offensive line will be Kaczenski at center, Akers at left guard and Brad Williams at right guard. Doughty and Clevenger at tackle. Chryplewicz at tight end; Malcolm Johnson, Mosley at flankers and we’ll go from there.
Defensively after spending a couple of weeks on the wishbone — we played the wishbone pretty well, although we didn’t play particularly well the second day, we had some missed assignments, on 8 plays they had — excuse me, 6 plays they had 187 yards total offense. And those are the things you can’t do. But now we’ve got to switch gears and go face a one-back offense, three tight ends, motion, shifting, things of that nature. So we’re going to have to adjust to that.
The thing that concerns me the most is our ability to get in the proper pass drops, being able to play the ball, because for the last three weeks, that hasn’t been a primary concern obviously defensively. But in intercollegiate athletics, you face a different offense every week.
Looking at Boston College on film, and I know they always play their best game against us. Before the year I felt this would be one of more difficult challenges we would have after coming back from Dublin, Ireland, after having played a wishbone team practically for three weeks. It would be a very short week and also a difficult adjustment. That coupled along well the fact that Boston College is a very, very difficult place to play. The fans are right up on top of you. It’s Astroturf, it’s a college environment. The fans are enthusiastic, and Boston College always plays us very, very well. I think they’re a very talented Boston College football team.
I think in the defensive line No. 99 and No. 92, I may not pronounce their names properly, Gianacakos and Colinet, I think it is the proper pronunciation there. They’re awfully good. The reason Maye, their linebacker, they lost a very quality football player, but they have a lot of other quality football players on defense.
I think their safety man Porter has been a four-year starter for them, is playing awful well. They put him in safety. He tackles very, very well and they play well.
Offensively Hasselbeck really threw the ball awfully, awfully well. He’s completed and he threw for 307 yards against Pittsburg. I think he’s completed about 160 passes this year already. And Walker, they have a very, very good tailback. He’s run well against us in the past, and he’s running very, very well now.
Wide receivers, I think they had, I counted 17 different wide receivers that have caught a pass for them.
Now, obviously you don’t catch one every game, but they threw to an awful lot of different people.
Offensive line is typical for Boston College, the typical offensive lineman you get there. They’re big and strong, there’s very good high school football in Boston. And they’re playing very well.
I think as far as punt and place kicker is probably as good as we’re going to face. In the next two weeks we’re going to face two of the better punters in the entire country. Jason Malecki is averaging about 44 yards a punt and kicks it exceptionally high. The place kicker John Matich is excellent against Pittsburg. He hit a 45-yarder and a 49-yarder, I think it was. He missed a 44-yarder. But he has a very, very strong leg. And so when you have a great punter and a great place kicker, your field position becomes very critical. I think it’s going to be very, very important we field the ball when it’s punted so it does hit on that Astroturf and bounce. But I am concerned they run a spread punt, which I think is very hard to return a punt against. But they have a very, very sound kicking game.
We’ll go up there on Friday after classes are over. We’ll try to meet with them Friday night. We will have no practice, but we will spend as much time Friday night as we possibly can. The game is at 3:30. I guess it’s on TV. It’s never an easy trip going to Boston, but I remember, I’ve only been there one time, it was two years ago, and that was a true nightmare. And I think our football players, we have enough of them that have been here before, are well aware what a difficult place that is to play.
What questions can I answer for you?
Q. Lou, a couple of things, No. 1, can you be any more specific about the nature of Scott Cengia’s illness?
COACH HOLTZ: I would rather that come from either Scott Cengia or from the doctor.
Q. Also, quite apart from that, in light of what’s going on at Boston College and the investigation that’s about to start there, I know we talked about this a little bit last year, can you review for us a little bit what you do at Notre Dame at the beginning of every year to talk to players about gambling and what they should look out for, what they should be aware of and that sort of thing?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, the University does a very good job. I’m sure we don’t do any greater job than any other school does. I’ve got to be honest with you, gambling has not been a primary concern of mine when I address the football team. We talk about it, but agents are the things that bother me the most, and Notre Dame would probably talk more about this, but we cover all the rules and regulations. Anybody that has a car has to fill out a form of how they got the car and how it’s financed or what year it is, and things like that. You just try to take every possible preventive measure you can, Brian. I’m not a gambler. I go to Las Vegas, but I don’t play the slot machines. I don’t even know how you roll the dice or how you bet. I don’t even know 21, particularly. So I’ve just never been much of a gambler. But it’s something that always concerns you, absolutely. And when something happens at another school around the country, regardless of the infraction it may be, if I hear about it, read about it, I always address that with the team, whether it be somebody selling tickets, date rape, whatever else it may be, you just try to make your players aware of the decisions they have to make. But the University has a series of subjects that is covered by various specialists, et cetera. Tom Kelly is the gentleman that’s in charge of putting together these various programs, et cetera. But you just — you can do everything you want.
Somebody said once, Brian, for somebody to really understand what you’re saying you have to say it six times before it really registers with them. But you just try to do it the best you can. And the decision players make affects everybody else, it doesn’t just affect them.
Q. Have you addressed the players on this particular one yet or will you and is that what you will tell them, what you just told us?
COACH HOLTZ: I have addressed them on this, as soon as I heard about it, I addressed the situation with the players and no matter what team was involved. I guess it’s been basically my approach to it, if somebody in California is involved with the situation, I’ll cover it with our team.
Q. Coach, do you have any sense of how the investigation might impact Boston College, what their team morale might be like, and how that would influence Saturday’s game?
COACH HOLTZ: You know, I was not even aware of anything. Over in Dublin, Ireland, I don’t know if you ever bought the USA Today over there. But it’s — it costs you a pound. A pound is probably $1.75 in United States money, and I want to tell you you can throw it up in the air and read it before it hits the ground. It’s about four pages. And that’s inflation at its highest. And they didn’t have any on Saturday and Sunday. So I didn’t get a chance to — wasn’t even aware of anything that happened. I came home Sunday, I got the materials from the office, took it home to my video camera at home to watch the game and I called Skip, I understood he had won. I called him to see how his game went and he informed me about the situation at Boston College. And he didn’t make a big deal, it was just in passing, we got ready to hang up and he said, “Oh, did you hear about the situation at Boston College?” I said no. And I just let it go.
And then yesterday I read a little bit more about it. But I’m not really concerned. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know if anybody’s involved, nobody is involved, but I do know this. Boston College is really a quality institution and if there are problems there, Boston College will resolve them, and will resolve them the proper way. I have great faith. I coached Dan Henning in college. Dan Henning was the quarterback of William and Mary when I went there. I was only a couple of years older than him. But I coached him. I have a lot of respect for Dan, I think he has a lot of good, moral values. He coached for the Jets. He was working as a night watchman at the Twin Towers. I hired him to come to the Jets. He had been let go at Florida State where he had been coaching. I have a lot of respect for him. Other than that I don’t know anything about it, nor am I really interested. I know that we’re going to face a very determined Boston College football team.
Q. Coach, I just wanted to know what was your initial reaction in your initial conversation with Skip when you learned about this?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, I really didn’t think anything about it. He didn’t know that much about it. He just said that he had heard on the news and wondered if I had heard about it. And I said no, I’ve been out of the country. And I can honestly say I was in another world. And that’s all that was said and I didn’t make any other phone calls, investigate it or anything else. As far as I know, and I don’t read the papers, not that I have anything against the papers, but I usually start with the front page, if I do read the paper. By the time I get to page 4, I’m so nauseated I stop reading it, but I’m not even sure as there’s anything going on there. I know that somebody said something to me yesterday that the investigation was going on. But I honestly cannot tell you nor do I know.
Q. As you mentioned your last trip here was somewhat of a nightmare. Your team is coming into a situation here where the game seems to be secondary to the controversy that’s swirling around. Could you address that?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, you know the opinion they have up there, I promise you this, and I saw Boston College up there two years ago, and I saw them a year ago here, and I saw them three years ago here. There isn’t anything secondary about Boston College’s team when it comes to playing Notre Dame from what I’ve seen. And I’m sure they practiced it. I’m sure they made great preparation. I’m sure they’re going to play with great intensity. You’re talking to somebody that isn’t aware of really and truly what’s going on. I say it sincerely.
Now, you sound like that’s the only thing up there and that this is big. I don’t get that impression. I just get the impression that we’re going to play on Saturday, and we’re going to play a great Boston College football team, and that I expect they will be there in its entirety. That’s the only approach I’m taking, because I don’t know anything else.
Q. Is this the kind of situation that is a Coach’s worst nightmare?
COACH HOLTZ: I’ve got to say this, nothing comes easy to us here at Notre Dame. As far as are you referring to your players making decisions that reflect badly on the University and the football program, is that what you mean by that?
Q. Precisely. Precisely.
COACH HOLTZ: Absolutely. I couldn’t concur with you more. There isn’t anything that concerns me more. As devastating as a loss is, as devastating as not playing the way you feel your team should play, in fairness to the school and the players and in fairness to themselves, as devastating as that is, for me personally, I don’t think there’s anything as devastating as when players make bad decisions that reflect on the school, the alumni, the students and the football program. And I can honestly say I can’t think of anything to me personally that worries me more than that. You get concerned about it. There’s no doubt. Not how it affects you personally, but how it affects the school, the school.
Q. Well, unfortunately, COACH HOLTZ, you are walking into quite a storm, here, this is a big controversy brewing at Boston College. I’m just wondering an opinion on your part. Some people have questioned just how a four or even five players on a football team, a couple of those players who have been injured, they haven’t even been playing. How could they possibly shave points off of games and do it in a way that wouldn’t be obvious to anybody. Do you have any idea how something like that could be done?
COACH HOLTZ: I’m shocked if somebody can shave points in a football game. I just never even thought about that. That never entered my mind. I thought you were talking about gambling; shaving points, I would find that hard to believe.
One person can’t do it. Three or four can’t. I just don’t believe that can happen in football. I’m sure alums have accused me of it. You make human mistakes. You watch Boston College play against Pittsburg, 500-some odds, 32 first downs, they played hard. They played physical, they played well. I just — I would be absolutely shocked if there was anything to that. After watching the film, I just could not believe that. No, no, I don’t believe that.
Q. Just one other thing. Certainly people are still — I’m not saying that these allegations are true, but if they were and for some reason Boston College was waiting to release information until after Saturday’s game, there’s also been allegations and reports that players have stolen money and used credit cards that didn’t belong to them and done things like that in the past, does a coach such as yourself coming into a game like this have a legitimate place to say they should have been suspended, they shouldn’t be playing in my game?
COACH HOLTZ: Once again I just want to go back to my attitude about this whole thing. I expect that Boston College team to play against us. I have no reason to think anything else. I expect them to play an outstanding football game. My only thought is to make sure we play an outstanding football game here at Notre Dame.
Now, in regards to the question, I have faith in Boston College. Whoever is on that field, Boston College has approved. And a great Jesuit school like that, it’s a great rivalry. We’re playing for the Ireland trophy. But you’ve got to have great faith and trust in them. Whatever the decision they make will never be questioned by me.
Q. When you did hear about this from Skip, is this the kind of thing that hit you as, oh, no, it can’t possibly be true or is that the kind of thing that coaches feared was out there and it was going to happen sooner or later?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, when I heard about it my initial reaction was it isn’t that big of a deal, and it’s probably blown out of proportion. And I still don’t know if there’s anything to it. I don’t know how big — what you have to understand, I’m not trying to be evasive or coy, and I’m certainly not trying to be witty, because that’s beyond my grasp at this stage of the season, but you’re saying that up there from what you’re perceiving might have happened. I’m perceiving it from here that nothing has happened. That’s just my perception. It’s how you’re looking at it. You’re there where you hear these rumors and allegations and maybe there’s some evidence, I don’t know that.
All I can say is sitting here is what little bit I know, the only comment I’ve read I think was in USA Today where the athletic director said nobody has been accused or no evidence of any wrong doing from any athlete, that’s the information I have. And based on that I just don’t see where it’s a big deal. I don’t see where it’s going to change the game or anything else. If this is not the case, then Boston College will handle it will the proper way.
I believe that my obligation is to make sure we’re ready to play. And I know this, whatever Boston College has done in the past is on the football field is no indication of how well they’ll play against us. I look at the potential of a football team and I think Boston College has very good athletes from the time they played outstanding football.
Q. Do you feel like you’re walking into a little bit of a tempest, here?
COACH HOLTZ: What’s a tempest?
Q. A storm.
COACH HOLTZ: I have been in one. I’m trying to get out of one. We are going to have to go up there and fight for our lives and for us to think that it’s going to be any other way would be naive on our part, I know that.
And I’m sure this whole situation will bring Boston College closer and more determined and together than they’ve ever been. The ideal situation would have been for this situation not to come up at all and it still would have been difficult. I think it will be even more difficult now.
Q. Looking back at the Navy game, like you said they had a few big plays, but otherwise you played pretty well against the Navy opposition. What was the difference between that game and the Air Force game? Was it the opponent or was it some defensive adjustments?
COACH HOLTZ: No, I think we made a — we played pretty well against Air Force. The problem was that they had this little duck play, where they read defensive tackle and the quarterback would duck up. It wasn’t an option. And Beau Morgan hurt us greatly with the duck play; rushed for 183 yards. So we made a defensive adjustment to take that away, which we did. The other thing that we pressured Beau Morgan a little bit, and then he scrambled and picked up maybe 60 yards just on scrambling, our quarterback draws. And against McCoy, whose statistics were the same as Beau Morgan, I think both averaging 110 yards a game coming in, we made up our mind that McCoy was not going to run the football, and that the fullback would run it some, but if our secondary played well, but that was the main thing, was the quarterback, what we call the duck play.
The wishbone is not the way it was ten years ago, 15 years ago. The offense at Air Force, Army, Navy, Rice is running right now, I think presents more problems than anything else, and I think it’s an unstoppable offense.
Q. Could you give a little time table on Scott Cengia? He got sick last week. When did this all come up?
COACH HOLTZ: Scott got sick last spring, I think it was, fever had set in, then it came back for about a week in the summer, then it came back last week. And so he gets nauseated and fever and so they ran some tests, injected some dye, et cetera, on Scott and made a discovery that he’s got a growth on the duodenum, I think it is, and they’re going to have to do some surgery on him. But that would have to come from him. It’s just how this whole thing transpired.
Q. He was not in Ireland, is that true?
COACH HOLTZ: He was on the trip to Ireland and the doctors said he was too sick to go, so we took him off the travel list. He did not make the trip because of illness.
Q. The second thing, after the loss to Boston College two years ago everybody immediately after the game and media was pressing you to answer whether the Notre Dame/ Boston College series had become a rivalry. You at the time said no, and apparently Dan Henning has at least based upon his reaction at teleconference yesterday has taken offense to that. In light of what happened now with last year’s game, is your opinion on this, is this a Notre Dame/Boston College rivalry, or how is your slant on it?
COACH HOLTZ: It’s unfortunate when people take something an individual says from honesty and tries to turn it around. What I said was that Notre Dame doesn’t really have a rivalry, other than Southern Cal. Southern Cal is a rivalry, because we’ve been playing them 70-some years. Do we have tremendous respect for the Boston College program? Absolutely. Do we have tremendous respect for their players? Absolutely. Do we think they’re as difficult to beat as anybody in the country? Absolutely. But is this a rivalry where your whole season is involved in it? At Notre Dame you can’t do that. Everybody that plays Notre Dame takes a tremendous interest in the outcome of that game as do their fans.
This game will be as difficult to win as Ohio State or Michigan or anybody else on our schedule. But that’s just the way we approach it. This is a very important football game, great respect for Boston College. But I feel the same way for the other people on our schedule, as well.
Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit with about what you said to your players about the Boston College situation? And did you also caution them they should not get complacent because this team might be facing some problems?
COACH HOLTZ: I didn’t even talk about that. I just brought it to the attention of what some accusations were, what I read in the USA Today, et cetera, and that I personally didn’t believe there was anything to it, but wanted them to be aware of it. The main thing is we talked about how Boston College has played against us in the past and how difficult that place is to play. And also brought up the importance, once again, of making sure that people you select went over the rules, the rules are very clear. You cannot be a — I don’t even know what it’s called — where you take bets. You can’t be a bookie. It’s illegal to book bets. It’s illegal to place bets. It’s illegal to provide information to anybody who is linked with betting about the attitude of the game, et cetera. You can’t bet on anything that’s with organized — whether it be a parlay card or odds, it’s illegal. You cannot do it. There’s NCAA rules against it. But didn’t talk much about it, just wanted our players to be aware of the allegations and here’s what the rules says about it.
Now, let’s talk about Boston College. Now I can talk to them about something else.
Q. Coach, last week you surprised people with Brad Williams, inserting him into the lineup as a true freshman who never had any experience. There are other freshmen or other players who are in similar situations that he was in last week that you see similar potential in and how close are they to playing?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, the reason Brad Williams started was your fault. You people got me in a bad mood by kept saying you’re going to start a guard, and I said no, and you didn’t believe me. And I was driving out of the driveway, and I said who should I start as a guard, who has intensity, who practices hard, et cetera. And it guy that came to mind was Brad Williams. He was on defense. I put a call into him, but he was in class, and didn’t even come to practice until about quarter of 4:00 and told him at that time I was going to try to look at him as offensive guard and he’s never even in full pads as a guard. He had on head gear and shoulder pads last Tuesday, but he did pretty well. He got to play a lot better, but he played pretty well. But there isn’t anybody else. I think there’s some young football players, here, but we don’t have a need to them right now. I say Lance Legree and Wellington, and Brad Scott and Jason Ching and Jimmy Jones, a lot of good, young players, here. I think Dan O’Leary and Gandy are going to be fine tight ends, but they’re just not quite ready right now. And Brad Williams wasn’t ready. But the situation was so acute that you’re looking for desperate measures, so to speak. When I told my wife what I was going to do, she said, “You’re going to do what?” She doesn’t know much about football. But when I reflect back on it it was crazy, it was insane, but I just felt in my heart that that was the right thing to do.
Q. You talked earlier about how one of the biggest concerns a Coach has is when athletes make decisions that reflect poorly on the University. How fair or unfair is it when it happens to hold a Coach or one person responsible or accountable for those actions by the players?
COACH HOLTZ: Nothing is real fair, but I think it’s like if you’re president of the United States, you’ve got to be held accountable for the good and the bad. Coaches are the same way. You it you may not have anything to do with it, but you’re held accountable. I don’t determine who is admitted to the University, but I do make recommendations who I would like them to consider. I think that to think that you are going to go through a career and not have people make bad decisions is not realistic. You get a hundred priests together and somebody is going to make a mistake. A hundred ministers, a hundred rabbis. Every church I’ve gone into, of course, I’ve only gone into Gaelic churches, there’s a confessional in there. And there’s a confessional for a reason, because people make mistakes. So if an individual or a couple of individuals make a bad mistake, it doesn’t mean that everything is bad. It doesn’t mean that you’ve been derelict in your duty. If it happens over and over and over I think you have to look and see have we examined the individual well enough.
Once again, I’m only talking about my situation. I don’t know enough to talk about anybody else. That’s how I look at it. We’ve had a couple of people here from time to time make a bad decision, and it’s unfortunate it always received national publicity. But it’s usually an individual.
But on the whole I think it’s like the lady said to me in Ireland, she said we’ve never had a finer group of young men stay here. And she said we have all kind of teams stay here. And I think you look at your graduation rate and you look at how much charity work they do. There’s so many things that athletes do, you don’t even hear about. Going to schools and talking about drug rehab programs or doing community service, et cetera, you don’t hear about that. But I think as a coach, you always look and say are we doing a good job on it? But you’re always going to have some people make bad decisions. And they asked the one gentleman, very successful person, I don’t recall his name now, how did you become so successful? He said by making good decisions. He said how did you learn about making good decisions and he said by making bad decisions.
What we try to do is if one person or somebody at another school makes a bad decision we try to bring that out on the ramifications. And I’ll close with this, so I can get to Mr. Nagel, because we’re all sort of leaning his way (laughter), is that — I forgot my train of thought.
In essence what I was going to say is that if an individual makes a decision it not only affects him, it affects everybody. It affects the University, it affects the Coach, it affects the kid, it also affects his partners. It affects the people who have had a part in his life. So the one thing we try to say is understand the ramifications of every decision you make, it’s not just you. If I rob a bank and they lock me up, I can look at it and say that was a choice I made. But if I robbed a bank and they locked my mother up, that would not be fair. It would be the same thing, the type of prison she would be living in, just understand that your decisions, that you’ve got to think about it. We talk a lot about decisions, choices, et cetera. That’s whenever I find anything that happens I try to bring it up.
Q. You mentioned the President, for example, should be held accountable. Can we surmise that you voted this morning?
COACH HOLTZ: I did vote this morning. And I will not tell you who I voted for.
Q. I didn’t think you would.
COACH HOLTZ: I did not put us number one, but I did vote. And I think that’s our obligation. So for the next four years I can voice my opinion. I think that if people do not vote, I just wish they would get more voting machines in our area. It’s ridiculous to have one voting machine for all those people wishing to vote.
Q. I want to bring up the situation with Air Force. Only I guess to underline the attitude you’ve expressed before, for every team Notre Dame has a big game, they get up a little bit higher, they play a little sharper. Air Force wasn’t the same team on the field against Colorado State as they were here. And they come up a point loss, I guess. If you could talk about the — like Boston College this weekend, in spite of everything that’s going on there, they’re going to know that Notre Dame is in downtown?
COACH HOLTZ: Air Force played a perfect game, they never had a fumble or interception. We hit them hard. Very few penalties, maybe delay a game on 4th and 9th or something, but nothing that really — they played a perfect game. And I congratulate them. We did not play well, but I don’t want to take anything away from Air Force.
We only have 6 fumble recoveries and 6 interceptions this year. We’ve only generated 12 turnovers this year. Last year we ended up with 30 for the year. We have 12 for this year. And we’ve created 15 — I mean we’ve committed 15. We’ve thrown three interceptions, we lost 3 fumbles. We fumbled about 21 times and lost 12 in three interceptions. I can’t remember a team that turned the ball over as much as we have on the fumble area. And when you’re negative in turnovers, in ’93 we were about plus 16 or something for the year. That’s where it presents a problem.
And a lot of it has to do with the attitude the team plays us with. They come in here and they’re focused and concentrated. And we didn’t create a mistake against Navy, against Air Force we had four fumbles. But at Boston College, I’ve been in this game long enough and have enough respect for Dan Henning, I’ve seen how Boston College plays us. They’ll have a great game playing. They approach it, they’ll cross the T’s and dot the I’s, and we’ll play a tremendous team. I believe that from the bottom of my heart, and I don’t care what else is going on, for us to think anything else would be a mistake. I have too much respect for Boston College to think otherwise.
Q. Lou, despite the fact that you guys beat Boston College last year, a lot of players are saying they anxiously await going back there because of what happened a couple of years ago, they were sort of embarrassed by the performance and particularly they didn’t appreciate the things that happened after years, about the beer being tossed, being spit on, being pushed and shoved. Can you recollect what you saw after that game?
COACH HOLTZ: I saw a few angry alumnis. I’d rather not talk about it. I remember it was a long afternoon and we were there without Becton and Zellars and many of our young sophomores were playing. And we got beat and got beat decisively. It was not a particularly pleasant experience. I think Boston College is an outstanding school. I’ve met and talked to several other student bodies, I’d meet them in the airport, have great enthusiasm, seem like great young people. I’m sure it’s an outstanding school. I know it is, and a good student body. And they get very excited about this game.
Q. Coach, considering the trip to Ireland, the long plane flight, the time change, plus the demand of academics and the importance of rest, did you make any adjustment in the practice schedule this week to kind of get the team recuperated physically?
COACH HOLTZ: I’m not only worried about this week, I’m worried about the three weeks afterwards. We go four weeks in a row after the long trip. I’d like to cut back practices, but I can’t do it. We’re cutting it back slightly today, we’re going a little less than we normally would as far as kicking game, et cetera, is concerned, because of time constraints, but I can’t, because we’re facing a different style offense. We’ve got to spend time on a pass drops and man coverage and pass rush lanes, and pass rush techniques, as well as adjustment to all the different formations and playing the I-zone, playing the trap, a lot of other things. So I would like to. I’d even like to cut out the Wednesday as being as physical practices as we’ve had in the past, going down the stretch. That was my immediate plan when we looked at the open date. But I know that we’re going to go into, I know what type of team we’re going to face, I know what type of environment we’re going to be in, and my obligation is to make sure our team is ready. So I’d rather have the team be tired but prepared than rested and not prepared.
A. It’s very difficult, because you miss four days of classes and a lot of players have to make up exams, and papers due and projects. See, Notre Dame is a very unique school in some respects. An awful lot of classes have group projects, where a group of people will get together on one project and they’re confronted with a situation or a problem and they’ve got to come up with a group solution. And everybody in that group grades everybody else in that group on their participation, on their willingness, on their ability to get along with people, on their flexibility with their schedule. It’s really a tremendous thing they do. It’s not your whole grade, but it’s an important part. And so much of the work is done in the business area today with groups getting together. So this is really excellent training for them in the future.
Subsequently, because we’re out of Ireland some of them put off those meetings, et cetera, and now have them at night and right after practice or things along this line. So it’s very difficult to get your rest here at Notre Dame, there’s no way you can say, okay, go home and go to bed. We had an athlete going with Arkansas, we used to flex at 1:30 in the afternoon. The school’s changed. I wished there was a way.
I am concerned because Friday, with this short week, we can’t practice on Friday, because we’ve missed too many classes now, we cannot leave until after class on Friday. It’s also a two hour flight. Now I’m hopeful we don’t have to go through the Boston Tunnel on Friday night at 5:30. I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to go through the Boston Tunnel on Friday night at 5:30 in the afternoon, I tried that once. I don’t think I would ever do that again. We got in there early Saturday morning, I think it was, it’s unbelievable, the amount of traffic. I swear to God people abandoned their cars, and just ran off and left them, come back next week and get them, they would still be there.
I’d like to be able to practice and like to be able to meet them. We’re not even going to get there until Friday night. So we’re going to have to keep things simple, yet at the same time there’s no way you can. I understand what you’re saying, I agree with you completely. Very astute observation. If you can come up with a possible solution, I’d appreciate it but I don’t see any. And what I’ve really found if you give the players the opportunity to this is the way it is, they rise. They’ll find a way.
Q. Lou, I don’t mean to beat this football betting issue to death, but what are the NCAA rules regarding, say a football player, can they bet in a legal place, say Vegas, or wherever, on another sport, say basketball or —
COACH HOLTZ: Absolutely they can, they just can’t play, then, they lose their eligibility. The way I understand that this thing works, as the rule says, you cannot book a bet on an event. I give you 2 to 1 President Clinton wins; give me ten dollars, if he wins, I’ll give you back 15. I can’t do that. I’m booking a bet. Nor can I go to a sports bookie and say I want to bet $10 on the World Series. I pick Atlanta. I’ve watched their pitching, they’ve got the best pitching coach in the world, that guy is unbelievable. Strong Notre Dame fan, I might add. No way they can lose. I bet the Braves are going to win. I’m I uneligible; it’s illegal. I definitely can’t bet on my team.
Let’s say I’m a player. I can’t even take a card and say, okay, here they’re giving 8 points, I take this team for five dollars and I give the 8 points. That’s illegal. Now, when this happens and the institution finds out about it the institution immediately declares you ineligible. Then they declare you ineligible anytime there’s a rules violation, they’ve got to declare you ineligible immediately. They then decide how long the penalty should be. Let’s say that I am an athlete and I get allied (phonetic) to the dining hall with the football coach. The coach didn’t realize it, whatever. The University has to declare him ineligible immediately, but then they applied for immediate reinstatement.
This was not intentional, we don’t think it was major, but we wanted to report that a violation occurred. The NCAA would normally say, okay, we reinstate his eligibility immediately.
Now the school can say, okay, he’s ineligible because he bet on a game, and then when they think that the right discipline has been handed out they then ask for reinstatement. It may be four games, after four games they ask for reinstatement. The University or the NCAA at that time looks at it and says, okay, we think that’s adequate punishment. We reinstate his eligibility. But let’s say if somebody does it and asks for reinstatement immediately. Let’s say that, good Lord knows, I used the University calling card and I called all kind of people, and I ran up $6,228, and the University declares me ineligible, and immediately goes and says here’s what he did, we ask for immediate reinstatement. The NCAA and going to say wait a minute, we don’t think that’s quite right. We don’t think that’s fair. We are going to put an 8-game suspension on him. So when you do it, you make a decision, you go to the NCAA, they then look and decide whether it’s adequate or not, and they also decide whether they’re going to investigate it or not. Or if you call ask say this happened and we have made these players ineligible. They may say we want to look at it, so it’s up to the University.
The University makes that decision and according to the rules if you violate a rule you’re declared ineligible, then it’s a question of when you ask for reinstatement.
Q. How far can you stretch that? Can they buy a lottery ticket? And if so, what if they win?
COACH HOLTZ: Can you buy lottery tickets? That’s not gambling, that’s donating. (Laughter.) I don’t know whether you can buy — I’ve never bought a lottery ticket. Hey, everybody that bought a lottery ticket it seems like turned out unhappy. Why would anybody want to buy a lottery ticket. I don’t know. But I can tell you what the rules said because I try to stay abreast of it. But maybe somebody else on the phone or somebody here can help me. But that’s an interpretation, and it doesn’t have anything to do with Boston College. This is just how a violation of a rule that the University becomes aware of, how they handle it, declared ineligible, then decide when reinstatement’s done for. You know, it’s not a case where you find a rule violation, you say, okay, that’s all right we’ll turn it over the NCAA and see what they say. No, you handle it yourself and then you turn it over when you ask for reinstatement. Then the NCAA looks at it.
Q. How did you scrape your nose? Is that newsworthy?
COACH HOLTZ: This spousal abuse is bad (laughter.) I’ll never say no again. I don’t want to take the garbage out. No, I get all kinds of letters from people — (inaudible). It’s not newsworthy.
Q. Lou, I take it from what you’ve said you’ve never in all your years in coaching had your player involved in any kind of a gambling?
COACH HOLTZ: No, sir. I mean somebody had a deep pass on 3rd and 22, and threw a 12 yard out. (Inaudible.) No, not that I know of. Not that I know of and you also cannot associate with any gamblers, I might add. You cannot provide them any information. Our team doesn’t look good. Man, COACH HOLTZ was out drinking and that game plan — you can’t do those things. But not to my knowledge.
Q. Does Brad Williams play defensive line or offensive line next year?
COACH HOLTZ: I think he’ll probably play defensive line. I think he’s going to be an outstanding defensive lineman. But he’s a pretty good offensive lineman, as well.
Q. And finally, Alton Maiden, the turnaround he’s made in his life, is that one of the more dramatic you’ve seen?
COACH HOLTZ: Yeah. I think the change that Alton Maiden has made, academically, has been tremendous. And when he came back after sitting out a year he said last spring, he said I’m going to really be the most committed student you’ve had here, and he did a good job. I think he might have even just missed the dean’s list. He did very well. And he said this summer that he was going to be the most dedicated athlete we had seen. And he worked harder than anybody. And he told me last winter that he was going to be a good, solid asset on his football team. And he’s just playing so well for us, so well up inside. And he plays his position. He doesn’t try to play everybody else’s position. And Renaldo Wynn and Kory Minor are playing well, because Alton Maiden is taking care of his position. Sometimes you get that trying to make plays all over and gets out of position and puts the linebackers in all kinds of difficult positions.
But I tell you, Alton Maiden spoke at our luncheon three weeks ago. Were you there, Phil? He wrote a poem that I wish I could read to you. And we were over there in Ireland and we get out of the monastery, and one thing that the monastery, they have a graveyard of monks from like the 9th century. But Alton Maiden wrote a poem that I shared with the team. And I’m going to paraphrase it, but it was rhymed. And he wondered why he’s still here when other people we’ve known have gone. And he’s seen sadness, and he’s gone to graveyards and he saw tombstones. He noticed on all the tombstones has when you’re born dash when you died. And he said the thing that always gets my attention is the dash. Not when you’re born or not when you’ve died because people forget that. But it’s the dash that counts because the dash represents what you did with your life. I look at tombstones and I wonder what that dash meant, what did he do with his life or her life, who did they help? What did they accomplish? And he closed by saying when you’re tempted to take the easy way in life think about the dash, because that’s what represents your life. I go to that graveyard and I’m thinking — I know when he died, I know when he’s born, I wonder what they did?
He’s a special young man. I met his mom and dad. His mom and dad are beautiful people. Alton Maiden is a special young man. And his contributions cannot be minimized. He should graduate in December.