Nov. 19, 1996
Off The Practice Field…Head Coach Lou Holtz
COACH HOLTZ: There are three items to be covered basically at this press conference. Let’s make sure we have them in the order of importance. First is the game with Rutgers. The second one is what plans are going to take to hire the new Coach. And the third is my resignation. Let’s address the Rutgers situation first. After we’ve answered all those questions I will then read a statement and I will answer any questions you may have. If there aren’t any then I will move on. Let me first of all address the Rutgers game. I always like to cover the injury situation. Emmett Mosley has a problem with his eye, we don’t know how serious. He went to the doctor, it’s not the retina. He still has blurred vision. He will see a specialist today. We don’t know about him. In addition to that Bert Berry has a bad ankle. The trainer says it’s 50/50. Bert Berry says he will play. I have great faith and trust and confidence in Jim Russ and our medical staff. I trust Bert Berry’s word, I expect him to play. Randy Kinder is definitely out of the game, we hope he will be back for Southern Cal. Jarvis Edison is out of the game. Possibility he will be back for Southern Cal. On the positive side, Mike Rosenthal is back, we anticipate him being available. Cikai Champion should be back on a limited basis. Kevin Kopka will try to kick a little bit more this week; kicked a little bit yesterday, was impressed. And A’Jani Sanders is back.
We have looked at our offense, I think we’re into a rhythm. We feel very, very confident in the things we do and the manner we do them. We’ve cut back our practices. It’s been a long grilling season, particularly in the month of November, we play 5 executive games. Defensively we’re doing some good things. We’re creating some lost yardage place, some disruption. The kicking game has been positive with the exception of the place kicking, which obviously is a little bit of a problem. The two big concerns we have are the number of turnovers we’ve had on offense, and that just cannot continue. But yesterday in practice we did not protect the ball particularly well. Looking at Rutgers, they had an open date, I think they start 9 seniors on offense, they run the West Coast offense, which is very, very difficult to adjust, to adapt to in a short period of time. On defensively they have five senior starters up front, particularly the four defensive linemen. They’ve played the defensive run very, very good. I worry about the focus of our football team, not because I don’t have great respect for them, I was worried about it, No. 1 because I thought after the resignation came out they would party all week and consequently would not be ready. But that doesn’t seem to be the case, we’ll just have to see as we get down there. But the focus is always very, very important. I’m never very optimistic on Tuesday, particularly this week with the distractions the difficulty of putting the game play together. We have a lot of faith and confidence in our football team, I think they will be ready to play. I think they will play very, very well. Terry Shea was the Coach at Stanford and did an excellent job, I say the offense coordinator under Bill Walsh, we’ve gone against his scheme before. It’s a very, very dangerous scheme. It’s going to be important to play well on defense. The question mark or one of the big, key matchups is going to be can we run the ball on them. Because many people have not been able to run the ball on their front defense. We know they’re going to line up and play us man coverage, the way most people have, and yet we aren’t going to be able to get the big play in the passing game. I always go into the game with trepidation on our ability to move the football. I go into the game with some trepidation upon our ability to stop the other people. That’s the way I’m on Tuesday, and I cannot change. What questions might I answer from anybody on Rutgers?
Q. Wondering a little bit about the whole situation this being the last game, and your thoughts in general on just the last game and your hunger to win, and how big a distraction is that to you personally?
COACH HOLTZ: I think being the last game in the stadium carries a great deal of significance. The one thing we have never played well when it’s the senior’s last home football game. We’ve always struggled. They get tears in their eyes and they can’t see who to block and tackle. But the last game in the stadium will carry special significance for me. I hope it will for the football players, as well. We addressed it a little bit yesterday. But sometimes you get so emotional about it. The distractions are the main concern I have. I think that we have a positive here because at Notre Dame the players are used to distractions, it just sort of goes with the territory, at least it has in the 11 years I’ve been here. But I think we will address that a little bit more on Thursday. Right now on Tuesday the main thing we’re concerned with is about how hard we work, and then we’ll try to progress from there. But this will be a very, very emotional week for a lot of people.
Q. Coach, could you go into when you made your decision to retire, when did that get finalized in your mind, and what was your primary reason?
COACH HOLTZ: I’ll be happy to answer all the questions on that once we cover the primary reason we had this press conference. I know you people come predominantly for lunch, but we have this for the Rutgers game, and I will answer any questions after I read a statement. But in fairness to our football team, the respect I have for Coach Shea and the Rutgers football team. I do want to address all the Rutgers situation first.
Q. Coach, could you try to convince us out in New Jersey why Rutgers will have a chance against your team?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, I just would talk to Memphis, Tennessee because they had absolutely no chance against Tennessee. I’d talk to Purdue, because there wasn’t any reason for Purdue even to play Michigan. It goes on and on. The game every week is different. Vanderbilt had a touchdown called back and lost by 7 points to Florida, I think, at Gainesville. Every game is completely different. And here at the University of Notre Dame this game is very, very important to us. It’s important in some of the hopes and aspirations we have for the rest of the season. And we’re going to make as good a preparation as we possibly can. And the biggest mistake you can make is never to show enough respect for your opponent. And I can assure you that despite all the distractions, despite everything else, we have made a thorough preparation for this football game, despite everything else. You go without sleep, you go without a lot of things. I felt it was important when we walk out on that football field that our football players know that the coaches are completely focused toward this football game and treat it like any other game with the adequate amount of necessary.
Q. Can you tell me about how tough it is for a team to come into Notre Dame for the first time —
COACH HOLTZ: One of the problems about coaching at Notre Dame, 88 percent of our football games have been on national television since I’ve been here; every one the last five years. In addition, 89 percent of them are sell outs. You might play Navy somewhere where there’s a hundred tickets left. You’re sitting during the off season and you know you’re going to be on national television once, and you know for sure you’re going to be on against Notre Dame and you’re an offense or defense coordinator, you know that’s one week where people aren’t going to read the score, they’re going watch you. And every girlfriend that ever dated you and every mother that didn’t want the girl to date you, you want to show them how impressive you are, you work all year and make all the preparation and boy you’re all fired up and the enthusiasm and the preparation carries over to your football players. I want to tell you at the University of Notre Dame, being on national T.V. every week is not the easiest thing, because it provides a great motivating factor for the other people. Coming into this stadium, everybody comes in and they want to play very, very well and Rutgers won’t be any different. I’ve never coached against a football team that is flat since I’ve been here at Notre Dame. I long for the days when I first went to the University of Minnesota where you would have to go in and wake the other team up before the game and tell them to get ready or they’re going to miss the kickoff. Here there’s an air of excitement and there will be one in the stadium and that goes with the territory, and I think that’s one of the great things.
Q. Can you share with us when Rutgers got on your schedule, if you had any input on having them on the schedule?
COACH HOLTZ: No, sir, I have absolutely nothing to do with the schedule. The only thing they held me for was not who we play, when we play, where we play, but exceptionally held accountable for how we play. I had no idea how Rutgers came on the schedule, that would have to be directed to the other people. The only input I ever had to any scheduling Notre Dame was when Penn State canceled our game against us, I wanted to play one of two teams, I wanted to play Miami, Florida or Florida State, and that’s how that two game series came about. Other than that I have no input. COACH HOLTZ READS PREPARED STATEMENT.
Q. You said it will be up to others to say where you ranked among the legends, but what do you have for where you ranked with the Leahys and Parseghians?
COACH HOLTZ: When I said it’s up to other people to ascertain what I did, I meant as to whether I served the University of Notre Dame ably and always put it first and foremost in everything I did. That’s all I meant by that. As far as a legend is concerned, legends are special people; Ara Parseghian, those are people that accomplished a lot. I was just proud to have served here. And I don’t look at my legend or how will I be remembered or anything else. If I certainly cared about how I’d be remembered I would look at what I was going to do in the future. And I have no idea what I’m going to do, just let God take my life. I don’t try to evaluate that. The people coming out of the stadium, boy, that’s nice he was here today, that’s up to other people. I don’t even try to guess that nor is that really important in your role in life. I think your role in life is what kind of influence did you have on young men, not how will you be remembered. I’m more interested in how our players will remember me 20 years from now, will they reflect back and think upon the experiences we have and the lessons they learned. To me that’s far more important than how I’ll be remembered.
COACH HOLTZ: In 11 years we haven’t been able to get that figured out. You complain because we don’t convert on 4th and 1.
Q. You mentioned that you didn’t have one particular reason for giving your resignation, but obviously there had to be some factors involved, can you tell us some of the factors that came into play?
COACH HOLTZ: I really didn’t discuss this with anybody other than my wife. And that was probably a mistake. I probably should have addressed it and discussed it and got input from other people. I probably should have sat down with Dick Rosenthal, who’s a great friend of mine and has always given me good advice. I should have talked to my son. I should have talked to a lot of people. I talked to myself and that’s not good advice. But, no, in all honesty I can’t give you a reason except I just feel it’s the right thing to do.
COACH HOLTZ: I didn’t come here to win national championships, I came here because I believed in Notre Dame, and I’ve said that for 11 years, and I’ve tried to do that. I think the NBC contract has been great for the University of Notre Dame, but I’ll be honest, I think it hurt us in some balloting along the line, if the national championship is the most important thing. But the academics, the discipline, the school, that’s never been a factor. I don’t know how people look and say, well, the academics are too tough and he wants to lower them. That would be demeaning to everybody that’s ever attended the University of Notre Dame, it would be demeaning to the students, it would cheapen this University. And I’ve never once said, boy, we’ve got to change this, and I think that’s evidenced by the fact in the last 8 years I’ve talked to Kevin Rooney one time. And that’s all. I don’t go over there. They make the decision on it. That’s never been a factor on it. The discipline, you don’t come to Notre Dame to change Notre Dame. Notre Dame will change you. You come here because you understand what the situation is and you believe in it. Could Notre Dame win with the present academics? Absolutely. Could it win with the demands? Absolutely. I think we have a very good football team this year. Right now we’re playing awfully good. What we are is one wide receiver and defensive back away from being as good a football team as we’ve had at Notre Dame. But because we don’t have those two people we struggled. And is that the admission’s office fault? No. Sometimes you make decisions of things that don’t work out. But I have people look and say there’s something at Notre Dame that you could not change academically or philosophy of Notre Dame, that’s wrong. I would not change Notre Dame in any way whatsoever. You have to remember this, 11 years ago when I came here, the big thing that everybody was saying Notre Dame couldn’t win again, the academics are too strong, the schedule too tough, et cetera. Notre Dame, we had a down period for one and a half years where the talent level did dip, but that was not the University’s fault.
COACH HOLTZ: I’m sorry, I — I can hear you now.
Q. (Inaudible.) Did you mull it over for a while?
COACH HOLTZ: No, I prayed on it. I think it was impulsively at first, but I think when you look at a variety of different things — let me address this, also. During the season is not the time to make this decision. You get no sleep, you get hassled, your mail isn’t very, very positive. It’s not the time to make the decision. Then the question is why was it made at this time? There is no doubt it would have been far better for me, for the football team, to make this decision when the season’s over. The season’s over, take a way a couple of days, sleep, join mankind, play a round of golf, and then get up and make a decision. But you can’t do that in the interest of Notre Dame. You come back from Southern Cal and now it’s December 1. You make a decision, it’s December 5th or 6th or 7th. Then by the time they get a staff together or make a decision you’re looking at Christmas. With Notre Dame we only have three recruiting weekends, two of those recruiting weekends are in December. The first weekend in December is the only good recruiting weekend we have because of the calendar we happen to be on. By the middle of January when your students come back, approximately January 15th, you have a recruiting weekend on January 2nd if most people haven’t made up their mind. By January 29th, the last recruiting weekend you have, everybody’s made up their mind. So I felt in the best interests of the University of Notre Dame and to maintain continuity that the decision had to be made during the season and that’s the only reason it was made during the season. And I think this will be fair and allow whoever the coach is to come in and not lose a beat in recruiting. The worst thing in the world you could possibly do is bring athletes in, in the two recruiting weekends you have, without having a football coach. Once again what I tried to do is try to say what’s in the best interests of Notre Dame and how to handle this. It would have been easier not to have the distraction, I feel embarrassed for Bert Berry, for Renaldo Wynn, Lyron Cobbins and Kevin Tatum and other seniors that they have to do this. I feel bad for our staff. It would have been a lot easier for me, it would be a lot easier if my wife was here, but that was not the thing for the University of Notre Dame.
COACH HOLTZ: None. They have not asked me. They’re very, very qualified. They’ve obviously had lists together last year when I was sick, but these people did not get to the University of Notre Dame because they won the lottery. I mean Mike Wadsworth has a very, very impressive resume and obviously he’s hired alot of people and he’s been at Notre Dame a couple of years and he knows what he wants in his football coach. On the other hand Father Beauchamp has been here for many, many years. And Father Beauchamp understands what Notre Dame is all about. You’re talking about two individuals. Father Beauchamp’s responsibilities are more than just the athletic department. I wish sometime you would look at how well he has done his responsibilities in all areas. So they do not need my input whatsoever. And I’m just concerned with our football team and how we can possibly win on Saturday. That’s the only concern I have.
COACH HOLTZ: No, sir, I’ve never — look, you see coaches coach, players play, administrators administrate and reporters report, and there shouldn’t be an overlap. I have no problem with this whatsoever. I’ve just got enough to do. I have no problem with it. I don’t think that’s really important. I think what’s important is for them to be comfortable with who they hire. They have time to do research and to look at it and to study and talk and interview, I don’t.
COACH HOLTZ: Well, one of the things that went through my mind when I was coming over here today, I went by Sacred Heart and I thought about East Liverpool, and thought about Saint Aloysius, and the Notre Dame victory march, and then you get nostalgia, and then you — you think about people in East Liverpool have been absolutely fantastic. People have taken great care of my mom and friendship and relationship I’ve had with my uncle Lou and all the people back there. I’m from East Liverpool. I was born in Follansbee, West Virginia. I’m proud of both of them. And I just really appreciate everything everybody’s done for me, not only there but the other places I’ve been.
COACH HOLTZ: Well, let me put it this way, either I’ve got to get a job or my wife does. Based on past experience I’ve got a pretty good idea what direction that’s going to go. (Laughter.) I had no idea I would be this interested in the Minimum Wage Act that was recently passed. I jokingly said to somebody, a patient with Dr. Kevorkian probably has a better future than I do. But I have absolutely no idea what I’ll do. As I said, I have a lot of enthusiasm and energy. You don’t go in coaching except for the relationship with the players. I had no idea that the players reaction would be the way it has been. And that makes me sad. But I have no idea. Ladies and gentlemen, when I leave here, I can say to you sincerely, I’ve never talked to anyone. I’ve never entertained any thoughts, ideas, never even envisioned myself coaching anywhere or working anywhere else. I just never did. I just felt that this would be the end of my life; that my mother always felt when you coached at Notre Dame, you coach until you die and then immediately went to heaven, period. But I have no idea. And there will be a depression. As I said, this is a sad day for me. And there will be other sad days for me. But I have no idea. I wish I could help you on the future. People will speculate I’m going here, going there, I want to tell you there’s absolutely nothing to it, I’ve never talked to anybody nor have I entertained it.
COACH HOLTZ: Well, I don’t think that I want to prove anything. It’s hard for me to even think about coaching anywhere else presently. When this season’s over, I’ve got the transition, and my main concerns are players here and the coaches, then I will look. If I feel the way I do today then I will want to coach. I will still want to coach. But then again I may not, I don’t know. I may want to go into business, I don’t know. I wished I could tell you. I’ve always felt remorse every time I’ve left a place. When you left a place you always had something to go to. And that gave you the enthusiasm and the excitement. I told our players yesterday that I’ve gone a lot of airplanes. You’re at the airport and you see a man kissing his girlfriend good-bye, and he’s really sad and they’re crying at the airport and she gets on the airplane and I get on the airplane, and it’s sad, people leaving. There’s just something sad about it. I thought about it and got to the other site and she got off the airplane and there’s a guy waiting for her with a big smile and hugging her and kissing her, and everybody is excited (laughter.) As I told the team, you can associate that with death, as well. People leave and you’re very, very sad on this end and they get to heaven and Christ and everybody else is excited to see them. And when I would leave somewhere else it would be sad and yet there would be an excitement when you went there. And our players are sad now, but they’ll be excited when the person comes in, because Notre Dame will hire great coaches, it’s a great job. This is the best job in the world, the most rewarding job, not financially. But I don’t know how I’ll handle not having anything to look forward to. But I’ve got faith in God and I’ve got a great wife. I’m anxious for her to come home, it’s been a tough five days by myself. But we’ll go on.
COACH HOLTZ: I think it’s better now for Notre Dame and that’s the only thing that was really important, what’s best for Notre Dame, and I don’t think there’s any doubt this is the best thing for the University of Notre Dame. As I said, the easiest thing would have been to wait until the season is over. But it wouldn’t have been the best thing for the players or for the new Coach or for Notre Dame. And that’s why the decision was made, but that’s not the time to make a decision. You don’t want to make a decision at that time, but that’s when it needs to be made.
Q. Lou, a couple of statements that have been made in the last week seem to conflict a little bit. A week ago today as we sat here you talked — you said you still had a burning desire to coach. As you read your statement today you said you’d love to have an opportunity to lead this team into the new stadium. And yet today you’re resigning from the position. Are we to deduce by that that you want to coach somewhere else or your right to coach at this University was taken away?
COACH HOLTZ: No, the right to coach at this University was not taken away. It was my decision. My wife sometimes said it’s your decision, and then it works your way, but that wasn’t the case here. There are a lot of things that you’d like to do that you can’t do, and I just feel the right thing to do right now is to leave the University of Notre Dame. And please don’t read anything into it. Notre Dame’s a beautiful, beautiful place and beautiful people. And all you have to do is look at the talented people that have been here at Notre Dame, look at the people and the job they have done. And I think Mike Wadsworth will do wonderful things here at the University of Notre Dame, and Father Bill already has. But, no, do not read into it that my opportunity to coach here was taken away, that would not be accurate.
Q. Lou, your underclassmen are telling us that when you recruited them you told them for as far as five years down the road you anticipated being the coach here. And now the right decision is to leave. What has changed in that time span?
COACH HOLTZ: When I told the athletes that I had every intention of being here for the next five years, that was as sincere as anything I’ve said. I talked to many of the athletes that have come in to see me. Some of them have asked me to talk to the classes by themselves, which I will do. But sometimes situations change and a variety of different things change. I just feel it’s the right thing to do. And I also feel this would be the right thing in the long run for the players. I think it will be the right thing in the long run, but as I said, one of the things that I did not estimate was the reaction of the players.
Q. A lot of speculation, a couple of questions for you, Lou, everyone misses you at home.
COACH HOLTZ: That wasn’t the word I got the first year I was here. (Laughter.) I want to put this on record because this was never said. I had the Notre Dame clause in the Minnesota contract but what was never reported, part of that Notre Dame clause was we had to accept a bowl bid at Minnesota before I was free to go. The logic being after losing 7 straight games by the average score of 37 to 18, if we did accept a bowl bid that means we took the bowl. I did not take the facilities, I did not take the season ticket holders, I did not take the athletes and I did not take any money. Now that said I’ve gotten that off my chest, thank goodness you came down. I wanted to say that for 11 years.
Q. You’re in the headlines again. Everything from speculation that you’re about to replace Dennis Green at the end of the season to a done deal to you’ve had conversations with Wheelock (phonetic) Whitney and the other board of directors. Have you had any speculative discussions with anybody at the Minnesota Vikings?
COACH HOLTZ: Absolutely not. I’ve talked to two NFL owners in the last five years that I know of. One of them was Jay Dyer. I talked to Jay Dyer. And I talked to Jay Dyer I think it was last January. When I talked to Jay Dyer which was how in the world I could be involved in an investment with him buying a hotel in Florida, selling it for a million dollar profit and I lost every cent I put in it. And that’s the only conversation, I was in two business deals with him. That’s why either I have to go to work or my wife has to go to work. Never discussed anything about the Vikings. I played golf with another individual. There is absolutely no truth or speculation I’ve talked to the Vikings, I have a desire to go to the Vikings or the Vikings want me. It’s speculation. And I can assure you there’s never once entered my mind. I cannot say what’s going to happen in the future, but I can tell you this, I have never talked to them about this job. I want to say this, also, I think Dennis Green is an outstanding coach. I thought he had did a great job at Stanford, I think he’s done an outstanding job at Minnesota.
Q. Do you find it flattering that Wheelock (phonetic) Whitney saying if there was going to be a coach replacement, Lou Holtz would be my guy? COACH HOLTZ: I’m flattered he would say that. There aren’t many people that would say that strongly, including my wife. Obviously he — I’m flattered, because I have a lot of respect. I think Wheelock (phonetic) is a fine person and I enjoy his company. You have to understand this, when I was at Minnesota, you know, Mark, man, I had to pay him; we asked for donations, a cup, I mean the whole bit. If we even wanted to pass a collection basket at the Catholic church the third time but they wouldn’t let us do it. We raised money in season tickets, that’s the only relationship I’ve had.
Q. You’re not going to come back?
COACH HOLTZ: I will not go back and coach the University of Minnesota football team. But I will say this: People of Minnesota are really solid people up there, and you can win at the University of Minnesota and you can win big there.
Q. Coach, when the new coach comes in and he asks you for advice, what’s the one thing you’re going to tell him about coaching at the University of Notre Dame?
COACH HOLTZ: It’s different than anything you’ve ever done. You’ll never be prepared, you’ll learn on the job. I think the most important thing to being happy here is to have a sincere love for the University, for the values that it has and not to try to change it, not to get frustrated by the way Notre Dame does some things, that’s what makes everything special. If you don’t come coach there because of your love of the University you will get frustrated. And I was never really frustrated there. It’s amazing, it really is. It’s a special place. There will never be any place like it.
Q. You mentioned in your statement you hope they hire one of your assistants. Is Bob Davie, would he be No. 1 in your list?
COACH HOLTZ: I think we have several coaches that can be an excellent head coach or will be. There’s some great young coaches on that staff. I want to say this, I think Dave Roberts has a chance to be an outstanding head coach and all you have to do is look at the record Dave Roberts compiled at various places. I don’t want to go into Charlie Strong and Urban Meyer and Tom McMahon and Kirk Doll and the rest of them. But Bob Davie is exceptional. The fact that Bob Davie took over when I was here the one game and did an excellent job. I worked with Bob, he has integrity, and intelligence. I hope they would give Bob Davie strong consideration. He’s a fine, fine coach.
Q. Coach, at what point during the season did you start to entertain thoughts that you might want to resign?
COACH HOLTZ: I thought about it as long ago as last February, when the first thought came into my mind, but that didn’t last long. But it did come to my mind and I mentioned it at that time. But I was still looking at it. The one thing I wanted to make sure was when I left here, I left a very solid football program. Two years ago we were really floundering a little bit that one year. I think it’s a solid program. You look at some of the younger players. We will start 10 underclassmen, I say 10 people will have eligibility remaining on Saturday, Rosenthal and Vickers and Doughty and Clevenger, and Powlus has another year, but Jamie Spencer, Autry Denson. So I wanted to make sure it would be a sound program. If you’ll recall my first year here we were 1 and 4. And I wasn’t being worried being hung in effigy, I was worried about being hung for real. I think it’s important. And I always felt that was important. So I started thinking about it then.
Q. You said that this is the right decision for your players, what do you mean by that, sir?
COACH HOLTZ: Oh, I just think that — I said in the long run it will be the right decision. I wish I could explain, but sometimes, and I’m not a complicated individual, you just try to do what is right. Just inside this is the right thing you can make a decision and try and find excuses and reasons to justify everything you do.
Q. Sitting here right now how much relief, if it is a relief, is it to you?
COACH HOLTZ: None. I feel worse than I felt in a long time. I do not feel good sitting here and saying, well, the pressure is off, no, I do not feel good about this at all. But I do feel it is the right thing to do. And mainly because of the players. I mean you coach for players. You get all the letters and all the other things and sometimes you can get distracted, but you’re talking about players. That’s all coaching is. That’s all teaching is. That’s all being a parent is. You’re talking about players. You’re talking about human beings, you’re talking about hopes and ambitions, it’s all about players.
Q. Lou, just to broaden the question a little bit, you repeatedly said you’re doing this in the best interests of Notre Dame — COACH HOLTZ: I didn’t say I was doing it in the best interests of Notre Dame, I said I was doing just the right thing.
Q. How is it right for Notre Dame?
COACH HOLTZ: I think it’s the right thing to do. I can’t expand on it. I just think it’s the right thing. Do you ever feel sometimes it’s right? You ever been on the golf course and the caddy said that’s a 7-iron and you understand you’re not Greg Norman, you think it’s a 4-iron, it’s just the right thing. You’ve got to go with what you feel is right. And I think that this is right. I think it’s right and when I look at everything and get away from it emotionally, it’s the right thing.
Q. Coach, I think you look great, but how much physically has this job taken its toll on you, more so than another job you would have been at say 11 years?
COACH HOLTZ: I have not felt pressure or the weight of the world on me. And I think I’ve weathered it pretty well. I do have a little makeup on because of the nose, which next time I’ll wear a helmet. But I’ve never tried to be anybody but myself. I look back, I’m going to be myself. I don’t get ulcers. I cause them. If you try to be somebody else, if I tried to be what other people wanted me to be, whether it be at Notre Dame or at home, I’m sorry, I can’t be what some people wanted me to be. There’s some people you work for, they want you to be a certain way or your wife wants you to be a certain way and an alum wants you to be a certain way or the players, you can’t be. All you can do is be yourself. And understand you have limitations, et cetera. That’s why I don’t feel any pressure. I went to church and I just find great solace in that. I didn’t come here to live up to other peoples’ expectations. I came here because I believe in Notre Dame, and I believe in it stronger than ever. So I don’t feel pressure.
Q. This is obviously one, if not the, elite programs in the country. You look at the NFL as a step up in coaching ranks?
COACH HOLTZ: No, I don’t think you ever go from Notre Dame to anywhere and look at it as a step up. But I want to say this, also. I don’t ever think that you can degrade another school by saying, well, if I went to this school it would be a step down. I just hope — I can stand up here and tell you my feelings for Notre Dame. I paid to have three children educated here. My children weren’t educated free because they passed a rule the week before I got here about tuition, et cetera. I think when they decided to hire me, they said look at how many children that Catholic has, we better pass this or we’re going to be bankrupt. But I paid for them to go to school here because I believe in this school and this school has done wonders for them. My grandson will be baptized Friday afternoon. But you don’t say, well, this school is better than another school. I had great respect for Minnesota and I sold Minnesota and I sold Arkansas and et cetera, and if you ever went anywhere else, I would do whatever I could for that school. So you don’t compare. Notre Dame doesn’t put other schools down by saying it’s I step down, et cetera. But Notre Dame has just been a wonderful experience and I value that.
Q. Looking at the NFL are there challenges that lie ahead if you take that route that you might not get anywhere else?
COACH HOLTZ: I think the fact that I coached the NFL for, I don’t know, 8 months or something like that, and everybody said, well, your record wasn’t good; it wasn’t good the year before I got there and they didn’t win the Super Bowl the year after I left. It’s something that bothers me to a certain extent because I have a question in my own mind. Would I like to do it? Yes. Did I want to do it bad enough to leave Notre Dame? No, not really. And I’m not leaving here to go into the NFL or do anything else, not at all. I have no idea what I’m going to do or where I’m going to go, none.
Q. Coach, you said you were surprised by your players’ reaction. What did you expect and what did you get?
COACH HOLTZ: I expected them to have a hangover on Saturday. I expected them — I just expected indifference. What I got was a strong reaction by them, an emotional reaction, I did not expect that, not at all. And that’s my main concern right now is alleviating their concerns, alleviating their fears. They go from the known to the unknown. And I want to tell you there are a lot of better coaches in this world that will come in here and do different things and I think it will be new and exciting for them to see how other people do things and different style offenses, et cetera. My offense has been rather productive if you look at it in every category, but I think the new coach will just bring a breath of fresh air, an air of enthusiasm, and an air of rallying together and support, and better facilities. Our dressing facilities, in all honesty, have been deplorable, but there hasn’t been anything Notre Dame could do about it. But they did rectify that when we move into the new stadium. And we’ll dress in there year-round in the dressing room and the training room and equipment room. It will be better for the athletes in the future. They don’t understand that, but they will.
Q. You talked about the new coach being able to rally the team around. Did you feel that you lost that at some point?
COACH HOLTZ: No, no, I didn’t say rally the team, I just meant just everybody getting excited. It’s new, it’s exciting, that’s all. I want to tell you something, I’ve never lost a football team. And I may lose one today, I don’t know. But I’ve never worried about that. If you’re honest with players and if you’re committed and you care and you’ve been through a lot and you don’t try to con them or anything else, you don’t try to be something you aren’t. I am who I am. I can’t be anything else. If I want to be something else I’d wear a false face. Speaking of — if you ask me what — so in answer to your question, no. I haven’t lost a football player and I love them. If you said to me in hundreds of alums that may say what can we do for Lou Holtz, I’d ask you to do one thing. The one thing I really feel bad about is you see a lot of things for sale with Lou Holtz, et cetera, and it’s all fund raisers, I never took a cent for that and I never would. But the business school came to me and said can we put out a bumper sticker. And it has my little picture on it and it says, “Don’t blame me, I voted for Lou”. And I didn’t have any idea I’d be retiring and so I said, yeah, if that’s what you want to do, I don’t think it will work, but if that’s what you want to do for a fundraiser, you have my permission. And they went ahead with it. When I resigned it just came out. And I don’t want to see them not have a successful fundraiser. And somebody buy a bumper sticker. You don’t have to put it on your car, but just buy a bumper sticker (laughter.) It would sure be nice for the school of business. I feel bad about that. They count on that money each and every year, it’s their fund raising project. They have one a year.
Q. Coach, if it was mathematically possible for you to be the most winningest coach next year of Notre Dame history, would you stay on one more year?
COACH HOLTZ: I think that would have had some consideration on it. The fact is I did not want to break Rockne’s record, I’m talking about being the all time winningest coach. I had enough games. It wasn’t like they said you can only coach 104 games, because Rockne won 105. I don’t want to break it. But that’s the thing that kept me from coaching here. That should keep you here. That would never keep me here, if anything that would slightly drive me away. But that didn’t really have a major factor in the decision, although I am glad, as I said, that his record is intact, it will belong to either he or some other coach in the future. I’m just content to have said I’ve been a coach at Notre Dame. And I’m very happy that we ran our program honestly and not only by the letter of the law but by the spirit of the law, as well. And I have no — don’t ever worry about what somebody may turn up or say, et cetera. That’s why you feel free disciplining people.
Q. Would you rule out coaching again at another college?
COACH HOLTZ: I would wouldn’t rule out anything if you’re hungry enough. Not that I’m destitute or poverty stricken. But I’ve just got to see. I just have to see what I can do and what I want to do and what options are available to me. One thing is certain, I am a natural-born teacher. It’s something I enjoy and it’s something that comes easy to me. And I miss a relationship with the players already and it hasn’t even started.
Q. Other programs routinely call you to ask you for recommendations for their head coaching positions?
COACH HOLTZ: All the time.
Q. Why would the people who employ you now not ask for your advice on the person who replace you when you would probably know best?
COACH HOLTZ: I think that in fairness to everybody concerned, I don’t think that they wanted to bother me because of the distraction it would create, the amount of time, and also the fact that with my assistant coaches. But it’s not because I don’t think that they valued my opinion or didn’t care. I think that this is something that I gave all my thought process to how were we going to win and how are we going to improve the program, et cetera. And other people have — they have a succession playing. You read this all the time where business has to have who’s going to succeed and what happens if somebody goes down in an airplane. They know what they want. They know the direction they want to go. And maybe there were things I did, one thing they don’t want in a new coach is what he did. I don’t know. But I have great confidence in them and what they’re doing. And it wasn’t because they didn’t want my input or anything else. I respect the fact that they didn’t want to distract me.
Q. Lou, you said as long ago as last February you first thought about resigning, when did you first share those thoughts with either Mike Wadsworth or Father Beauchamp?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, Mike Wadsworth was in my office last February and we were talking about a certain item and I just said at that time, I said, well, maybe you need to find — start looking for a football coach. And you ought to give that some thought. And that’s all that was said and nothing else was said for a long time. We went on to another subject matter. But I started thinking about it, in all honesty at the beginning of the year. And started thinking about it. And playing it and evaluating it. But just prayed on it. And then I went to them three weeks ago or so and I said, you might need to look. And they came back and said, well, think about it for a week. And they came back a week later and said, do you feel that way? And I said, yeah, I think it’s the right thing to do. And then it became definitely final at 3:32 yesterday. 3:32 yesterday it was done.
Q. Also in your statement you said this will be a joyous day for many. What do you mean by that and who do you perceive these joyous people to be?
COACH HOLTZ: One of them, all the coaches who want to come here. They’ll be excited. It will be a sad day for the people who play us. Say, geez, we don’t have him anymore, that’s bad. I just think around the country, you know. I don’t tell people about my problems. I said this before, 90 percent don’t worry about your problems, the other 10 percent are glad you’ve got them. I can’t tell you who will be happy today. I can’t tell you who will be sad. I can tell you who is sad. But it’s only natural to be that way, and I’ll have withdrawal, et cetera, for a while. But I have a strong faith in God, and I want to reiterate that again. I don’t know how I would handle it if I didn’t feel that way.
Q. I’m Reverend Williams and I would like to ask you a question in reference to the NBC and you playing so many games on television. Is that a very positive thing for a Coach and a football team to be that visible all year long? Does that create a problem for you, is that one of the reasons, perhaps, you are considering — have given your resignation here because some of the things maybe that NBC wants you to do in terms of winning championships, which you haven’t done? So could you address that for me?
COACH HOLTZ: I thought we won in ’93, Reverend. And I think if you would pray on it like I have, you’d feel the same way. (Laughter.) But I think you make a good point, Reverend. And let me address it as best I can. I did not have a contract with NBC. I did not enter into the negotiations with them. So if they said you ought to do this, I say well, I think you ought to go talk to the people that made the contract with NBC. But I have great respect for NBC and I think they’ve handled me with tremendous integrity and I respect them greatly. The deal that was made with NBC was not consulted with me. I think, like everything else, there’s good and bad. I think it’s excellent for the University of Notre Dame. I think, Reverend, there are going to be many minority student athletes and students that are going to get an education at Notre Dame because of that contract. That helps the University. I think that there is some feedback, I felt that we got some maybe backlash on the voting, maybe, because of it. Yes, you are under scrutiny. Yes, everybody cease you. We’re on television more than Miami Vice. Yes, it does excite the opposition much more, as I mentioned about the preparation they make. But what I think it’s in the best interests of Notre Dame, I think it’s one of the best decisions ever made at the University of Notre Dame. And I think it’s because it helps Notre Dame and not the athletic department. And it’s also enabled many people around the country to have the opportunity to see Notre Dame play. It’s also enabled many people to follow Notre Dame, and thank goodness it was on TV last Saturday, because my wife was with my sick son and had the chance. So I think you’re always going to have some things that are negative about anything that happens. But I think the positives so far outweigh the negatives. I never voiced my opinion on this before.
Q. Your wife’s name, you mentioned her several times. For the record, what is your wife’s name?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, right now it’s Beth, but soon it will be Saint Beth. As soon as she receives canonization. She’s a very, very special person. And we’ve been married 36 years.
Q. Final question, what recommendation do you give Notre Dame as you leave? What is your final hope for them, your recommendation that they do for the football team?
COACH HOLTZ: My recommendation is, to Notre Dame, you have — Notre Dame has just done such a tremendous job, and the people that run the University keep making the best decisions based on what’s best for Notre Dame. What made Notre Dame special, what made Notre Dame special, because people work there, not because of the money, but because they love the University. It’s a sort of labor of love. And as long as people work there the labor of love, not because our financial scale is higher than others or because we can build a dynasty or Utopia or cash in on Notre Dame’s good name. It’s made special because people work there because they’ve loved that University. You know that as well as I do and anybody who’s associated with Notre Dame knows what I’m talking about. Many people taught and worked here because they loved it.
Q. Coach, you talked about yourself being sad and about the players being sad and I can certainly attest to a group of people, that’s the student body at the University. You’re a real role model for students, and a real presence on campus with pep rallies and speeches, and sort of a real good relationship has built up. I was wondering if you had any passing words for the student body, words of wisdom for us?
COACH HOLTZ: Something was mentioned that they were going to set up a microphone and I might have the opportunity to talk to the student body after the game on Saturday. And I would just say this, that the students are special. The students are clever, they’re witty. And I think the student body here is unparalleled. And I’ve really enjoyed them. I enjoy their attitude, their enthusiasm. I walk on campus or see the students and they say hi, it just is really fun to be around young people with their enthusiasm. I have great respect for them. I was greatly hurt by the letter that was written to the Observer. I really was. But that’s the only time I’ve never not had anything but the utmost respect for the student body. I have been the junior parent speaker for the brunch 11 years in a row or something. I was scheduled to be at it this year, but I’m sure they’ll be anxious to find somebody else. But those students’ championships isn’t what makes Notre Dame. What makes Notre Dame is a love of the school. And the discipline and the standards and the way students helped one another. I’ve never seen anything like it. I remember when Bobby Satterfield died and you couldn’t get into that church, and yet not that many people knew Bobby Satterfield. It’s family. It’s caring. It’s special. And the students are special. I’ve spoken for 11 years to every freshman who came there, at freshman orientation. I’ve seen them come and I’ve seen them go. But I’ll miss this. As I said, I’ll miss the students. I really mean it. I’ve gone to that dorm and taken pictures and talked and answered questions every year. It’s — I’ll miss those things. I’ll miss that environment. I’ll miss this campus. I’ll miss the relationship with the people and the faculty, et cetera. Although I have not had much contact with the faculty because that’s not in the best interests here at Notre Dame, you don’t want to have that conflict. Why don’t you have people to your house, why don’t you throw parties? What I discovered a long time ago is if I join one group of people, and don’t go to somebody else’s it offends them. If I invite this person and don’t invite that person it offends them. So I enjoyed my wife’s company and we haven’t gone anywhere or done anything. Boy, get that new coach, make sure he isn’t as antisocial as Lou Holtz. You’ll find out I love a party. Just go check my fraternity brothers. (Laughter.)
Q. Lou, you said that the thought came back into your mind about three weeks ago, which puts it right about the time of Air Force or right after Air Force. Did that game trigger anything and the tumult that was surrounded with that loss?
COACH HOLTZ: No, the loss was disappointing, but understandably. I was very disappointed with the way we played. But the people that followed Notre Dame know this, my recommendation was we have an open date, last week of midterm exams, because I want to tell you, every year I’ve been here and before I got here, you can’t play that. You have no idea what a group of zombies you have. What I learned is don’t ever put in anything new; don’t even worry about practice that week. But unfortunately we were playing the wishbone and we were playing the 50 slant defense, and we did not play well, and that disappointed me. But that really didn’t have much of a factor because, you know, I had time to think about it and it’s like childbirth. I never gave birth to a child, obviously. That’s a great statement, boy, break that one down. I say some of the dumbest things. But I know understand that childbirth pain fades. And loss fades also when you look at the overall big perspective. And I’m one of these old-fashioned people. I’m not a Madison Avenue type coach. I wear the blue Blazer. I wear a pair of khakis or gray slacks. I wear shirts with button down collars. There’s nothing Madison Avenue about me in any stretch of the imagination. And some people want Madison Avenue. I’m not Madison Avenue. I am who I am. So the point I was making is that things fade. Things come back. But you know you take the good with the bad. It’s all part of it.
Q. Lou, you’ve been very composed today and that’s characteristic of you over the last 11 years. Have there been moments the last couple of days, the last week, that you’ve been otherwise?
COACH HOLTZ: I think what everybody needs, what everybody in this world needs, you need somebody to sit down and talk to and say whatever you want to say. You say anything you want to say, but you know it isn’t going to go any further and get it off your chest and then you can be cold about something. I use that with my wife. And Mr. Rosenthal was that type of person with me. But, no, I just try to have a peace. And the one thing that I think you will find once I leave Notre Dame is I do have a sense of humor. You cannot tell I have a sense of humor because the minute I try to make somebody laugh it would be in print and somebody else would take offense at what you said or how you said it. So I’ve tried to be very, very careful being here or the way I’ve done things, et cetera. But, no, I think Notre Dame gives you that confidence. I didn’t have it before I came. And I’m pretty certain I won’t have it after I leave. I think it’s just Notre Dame. You have no idea how proud I’ve been when people say he’s the Coach at Notre Dame or to be part of the Notre Dame family or just walk across the campus and see the dome and walk in Sacred Heart, I’ll miss that. And I get sad when I think about it. That’s something you just can’t buy. It’s been special. It’s been more than I ever envisioned it would be. And as I say, a couple of years ago I never thought I’d be sitting here, but it’s the right thing to do and I am just thankful that people had the patience to give me the opportunity to coach here and through the various trials and tribulations you people know, the way Father Beauchamp and Dick Rosenthal responded to me, I could never thank — I could never possibly thank Father Beauchamp enough for the way he’s been towards me in the eight years I’ve been here. That guy is special. He really is.
Q. Coach, you’ve coached against Gary Barnett a couple of times and I know you’ve met with him. Can I get your general feelings about him, because it sounds like he might be a candidate to succeed you?
COACH HOLTZ: I think Gary Barnett, whether he’s a candidate or not, that’s for someone else. But I think Gary Barnett is an excellent coach and I think he’s done a tremendous job at Northwestern. I think in looking at him offensively, somebody said that they were on average 28 points a game, and the opposition averaged 25, or I don’t know what it is, which tells me he wins close games, and that’s the mark of a good coach. I think that he’s an outstanding coach and he’s an excellent golfer. He’s a good, good person from everything I understand and what greater recommendation could there possibly be than the fact that Northwestern doesn’t want to lose him. But I think there’s a lot of other fine candidates as well, if you want me to go and talk about every name you want to mention, I would be happy to do so, but I have a lot of respect for Gary Barnett. He’s done a fine job. I appreciate you coming, and once again in close, I want to say this to the media, thank you. Just thank you. I think that you know what I mean, just thank you.