Nov. 26, 1996
Off The Practice Field…Head Coach Lou Holtz
COACH HOLTZ: First of all, on the injury situation, at the present time it appears Jerry Goodspeed will not be able to play this week. He has a strained trapezius muscle in his neck, the same thing that Autry Denson has but his seems to be getting worse not better, so that really weakens the position there at the fullback. Ken Berry will be the backup, fullback there. We probably will work Robert Farmer some there today, although it’s not Robert Farmer’s natural position.
Other than that we kept Mike Rosenthal out of the game last week to give him an extra week when we didn’t need him. He should be back and be at full speed. Peter Chryplewicz’ ankle is bothering him. And Ivory Covington has a pulled hamstring which kept him out much of the game last week. He was injured in the game and subsequently Deveron Harper stepped in and played most of the game.
I think looking back on the game, because I didn’t have a chance to talk to you last Sunday, we played well, but it wasn’t anything sharp. And that really concerns me because I think early in the ballgame the players understood that we would win the football game and we weren’t as sharp, as two weeks in a row that has transpired now. And that concerns me somehow about this coming week, particularly playing Southern Cal and a game of that magnitude.
Mike Doughty is really playing so well. I saw in the Football News the All American came out and the first three teams came out. And we didn’t have anybody even on the first three teams on the All American list. Now, yet we’re nationally ranked at 9 out of 11 national statistics, punt return, kickoff return, rushing offense, total offense, scoring offense.
But Mike Doughty is playing as well as any tackle in the country. Chris Clevenger is playing very, very well. I think the development of those two this years has been one of the more pleasant surprises.
Peter Chryplewicz is playing so well week in and week out on the tight end. And that’s the reason we had some degree of success. Of course the interior line is playing well, also.
I thought that Robert Farmer has really come of age, just to watch him mature in his unselfishness. I don’t know if you notice he’s on the punt return team, and after Kevin Kopka blocked the punt and the first guy in the end zone was Robert Farmer. Jamie Spencer blocked very well. He’s run better than he did last week. He’s a better runner than that. Autry Denson, and we’ve fallen into a rhythm on offense for about 6 of the last 7 weeks. I feel very comfortable with that.
Defensively we’ve set a record for sacks. I think Renaldo Wynn and Maiden, and the guy I haven’t talked much about that’s playing well on the inside is Corey Bennett. Corey Bennett is much stronger this year than he was a year ago. He’s more mature; he’s bigger, really playing awfully well. And I don’t know if anybody is playing any better than Bert Berry and Kory Minor. Kory Minor for a sophomore just continues to amaze me the way he’s been able to play the game. Our front 7 I’ve been impressed with on both offensive and defense, with the exception of guard how well we’ve stayed health-wise. I think our front 7, Cobbins and Tatum are playing awfully well. And our secondary is starting to come. I think getting a little continuity. I looked at practice and we have two freshman in the starting secondary, Deke Cooper and Deveron Harper. And I was thinking, gee, if Lee hadn’t gotten hurt, Lee Lafayette, we might have had three freshmen in there. They are going to be fine players. A’Jani Sanders now possibly will start at one of the safeties in place of Cooper. You’ll see them all in there.
Our secondary is playing well. I’m disappointed in the punt return team. I don’t know how we could go from 5 or 6 weeks of excellent effort to just a less than mediocre, certainly less of an acceptable effort in that phase of the game.
I’ve been a little disappointed also in our punt team, although we’ve really only punted three times until the last two games. We punted from 18 seconds to go last week, which gave us a total of four. We haven’t been as sharp in practice as I’d like to be.
But now we get ready to go into Southern Cal. It’s always a special week, but it’s really been a lot of hecticness and unsettling, and it will be that way all week. We can’t control that. We can try to cope with it and I think we will do that. Southern Cal is a talented football team and all I have to do is remind you they lost to Arizona State in Tempe in overtime.
So when you play the No. 2 team in the country, and I say No. 2 because after Saturday they will be No. 2, to an overtime game in Tempe, that tells you a little bit about their capabilities.
They’ve lost some of the more heartbreaking games you’d ever want to see. They had UCLA 38-21, and they had them 28-31 with a minute and a half to go in the game and first and ten on UCLA’s 40 yard line. When they play Notre Dame, they’ll play very, very well.
Some of the people on offense, I think that Jay Soward, he’s a true freshman. He’s probably one of the great receivers I’ve seen. I throw him a four yard hitch and he can turn it into a 70-yard gain. He reminds me so much of Raghib Ismail and the way he does things with his quickness, abilities and talents. He good got a 70-some yard touchdown pass against UCLA and a 60-some yard touchdown pass against them. And the one was only thrown about four yards down the field and broke about six tackles, one of the more spectacular runs you’ll see. And he caught a bomb 40 yards from the end and ran it the other 30. He’s a very, very talented individual.
And I think Brad Otton, quarterback, is a very experienced quarterback and very talented. Last year he alternated with Van Raaphorst, I think, was the quarterback last year. So Brad Otton is the quarterback this year and playing well. He got some bruised ribs, did not finish the UCLA game. He promised he will play against Notre Dame, and they will play their best game of the year. I have no reason to dispute that, nor would I think of anything else. Very talented back field position, Delon Washington and of course Shawn Walters, Rodney Sermons, et cetera. They’re big and strong up front, typical size until the UCLA, Southern Cal line. You look at them, Rome Douglas is 6-7, 300; Chris Brymer 6-3, 300; just the right guard, Travis Claridge, 6-6, 300. They’re just a big, strong, physical offensive football team with great talent at the wide out position and the running back position.
On defense they have some of the better players in the country. I don’t think we have played against a defensive lineman for several years as good as Darrell Russell. I tell you who he reminds me of, he reminds me of Russell Maryland. He reminds me of Dana Stubblefield (phonetic). He’s that caliber. He can dominate a game. He’s 6-4, 305 with unbelievable quickness. I think that McCutcheon, Dayton McCutcheon played high school football with Kory Minor, is a great defensive back. I think you have to be impressed with Brian Kelly their free safety. They have a linebacker that I remember trying to recruit so vividly, a guy name Chris Clayburn, 6-4, 235, starting as a freshman. I thought he’d would be an excellent player, but if we saw him on film we certainly would have — I don’t know what more we could have done to recruit him here. So he’s an excellent player. They have good talents, they have good skills. They played hard, they play very, very physical. I firmly believe that had they not lost a game with Arizona State they may be sitting here at the present time, you know, 9-2, 10-1. I think it’s that kind of team. But I also know when you play Notre Dame it doesn’t matter.
The USC, Notre Dame game is very, very special. It’s special to us; it’s special to them. We have trouble playing out there. It’s a hard place to play. But when the band plays the Trojan victory march, it adds a specialness to the game. I don’t have I didn’t idea how we’ll play Tuesday. I’m not very optimistic. I’m more optimistic today than I was yesterday.
Yesterday I didn’t know how we could possibly beat them. We’re going to have to play very, very well, and I think our players are aware of that. We were out in practice yesterday without any pads. You can’t tell much about that. We’ll know a little bit more today. We will not be in full gear this week, we will be in head gear and shoulder pads today and possibly tomorrow. It’s been a long season. We are pretty well banged up. But most of the people will overcome virtually every obstacle in order to play in this game.
Questions I can answer for you:
Q. Lou, there’s strong suspicion that John Robinson’s about to have the can tied to him out there. Any feelings how that might impact the game, pro or con, from your standpoint and perspective?
COACH HOLTZ: John Robinson is too good of a coach and he’s done too good of a record. I think when people analyze it you can have bad years. You can have bad games. Things happen. This thing of expecting perfection out of everybody but themselves bothers me about this country. It and somebody always looks better and more attractive than what you have. I just think he’s an excellent coach. He had them in the Rose Bowl last year. I just — if it is his last football game, we’ll get a tremendous effort from his players, but then we’ll get that anyway. I certainly hope it’s not true. I sincerely hope it’s not true. Robinson and USC go together.
Q. Lou, you said a couple of weeks ago there was some talk about something that you had said prior, I think, to the Boston College game last year that the real only rival that Notre Dame had was USC, could you talk about that a little bit and why that is so?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, I think — I didn’t wish to put anybody down or anything, but everybody gets excited, and because somebody upsets Notre Dame doesn’t make an automatic rivalry. Everybody gets excited about playing Notre Dame. But when I — my first year here, and it seems like a long time ago, and yet it seems like yesterday. I remember walking into the team meeting and we are 4 and 6, we had just gotten beat at LSU in a real close football game, I think it was, and we’re going out to play Southern Cal. And I walked into them on Monday and talked about the LSU game and how we had a chance to win. I think we lost 21-19. And after I addressed that, I said now we play Southern Cal. Now everybody tells me this is a big game. Why is this a big game? And the players said, well, it’s supposed to be the big game. And I said, but why is it? And I wasn’t asking because I knew the answer. I just wanted a little bit of input. They said we don’t know. It’s just supposed to be the big game. I said tomorrow I’ll have an answer why it’s a big game. So I went and got a history on the game and studied it and went in and gave a lecture the next day on the history of the game. And it is a big game. When you read what Ara Parseghian, and John McKay, John Robinson, Moose Krause, Jessie Hill, read about the history of it. Except for ’43, ’44 and ’45, we played them every year since 1926. How the game came about being is amazing. And some of the greatest games ever, classic games, it just — it’s international. We played them prime time on Saturday night. I just — and there’s an air of excitement. You think about the players. I know that in talking there I think they played them 11 times, I know — I think John McKay was involved in this game 14 times, and had national championship implications about 11 of the of the times.
So every year I’ve been here one or the other has always been nationally ranked and most of the time it’s been both nationally ranked.
Q. Lou, can you speak about the vast changeover in coaching that’s coming up this year, 20 coaching changes so far, that’s about a fifth of the Division 1. Do you think this is a good sign — a bad sign about the civility of coaching in college football?
COACH HOLTZ: I think some year you’re going to have more vacancies than others. I didn’t think there were very many vacancies last year. You have 10 or 15 Division 1A football and 15 percent of the jobs open up each year. That would be 15, 16 jobs. This year they have 20 open already is a little bit different. I think we’re also going through a transition period. This would not be a good soapbox time for me, but I’ll say it anyway, because I feel this way. I think we’re making a transition in coaching and intercollegiate athletics. We give coaches less to work with, and I’m referring to football now. We give them less time to recruit and to evaluate athletes. We give them last time that they can work with the athletes. We have less coaches than we’ve ever had. Administrative assistants are taken away. Now, the administration has grown tremendously since I’ve been in college football. I remember where you had a business manager and an athletic director and a secretary, and that was it. But I think with the compliance rules and everything else it has grown tremendously, and the only way they can so far set that is take it away from certain parts. With the limited number of scholarships they put more pressure on coaches and expect more. They want your athletes to be perfect gentlemen, and I understand. And they want them to be good students, which I certainly can understand. They want them to grow up to be men, and I can certainly understand that. They want you to win and I certainly understand that. And so I understand and I don’t think the demands being made on coaches are unfair by any stretch of the imagination, but to expect perfection and be impatient about it is a little bit different.
I think in the selection committee process also they need to look at that and evaluate that. So many times when they’re hiring people today, they go get an outside individual to come in and hire, an outside firm to recommend who the coach would be. Sometimes that boggles my mind. But I think that coaching is a very difficult profession, and you’re not going to be in it for any other reason except your relationship with the players. The relationship with the players makes this all okay.
Q. Lou, if you do happen to in the future get back into coaching, say, on the professional level, do you think you’ll be more prepared for that experience than you were in your previous stint with the Jets 20 years ago?
COACH HOLTZ: I would like to think that I’ve gotten better as a football coach each and every year. I would like to think that. I would like to think that I’ve improved areas of my life each and every year. I feel that way. And I feel I am a much better football coach today than at any time in my entire coaching career. And I learned some things each and every year. So, yeah, I think I’m more mature. I think I’m better prepared.
I think if I were to get in coaching again, and I don’t know if I will, I haven’t even looked at the future. I have absolutely no visions over the horizon beyond Southern Cal. But I think if I were to be in coaching, I think I’d be better prepared for any job in coaching and out of coaching than I was a year ago or two years ago. I feel that way. And I don’t wish to come off egotistically. I wish that to come off as a matter of fact. I try to learn each and every year and I try to sit down and evaluate how we do it, why we do it, how somebody does it better, and how we can improve on it. We’ve done it with our athletes off the field, in the classroom, in dorm life. We look at the discipline action we take. We look at how we reward or punish certain types of behavior. You study everything from top to bottom.
My critique to the administration on average is somewhere between 45 and 50 pages, that’s for the administration. Critique on myself and our football program, what we do and how we do it is probably equal amount. But it’s done more on notes. So I think anybody feels that way. The only time that you will stop learning, stop improving, I think, is when you lose your enthusiasm and start going through the motions and take things for granted. I’ve never done that and I don’t think I ever will, just say, well, we done it this way for so long. I always look at us offensively, defensively, what we do, how we do it, et cetera, yes, sir.
Q. Lou, could you talk to us a little bit about the dominance you’ve had in this series for the past 12, 13 years? Is there any reason for what’s happened?
COACH HOLTZ: No, absolutely none, other than that’s the way the cycle has run, and it can change anytime. Let’s go back several of the games in this cycle, go back to 1986 when we were down by 18 points with 11 minutes to go and came back and won on Tim Brown’s punt return, Tim Brown’s kickoff return, a long pass and great catch by Milt Jackson. I remember we hit Braxton Bank in the flat for two touchdowns. You go back to 1989. We’re down 21 to 7 and eked one out 28 to 24. The game could have gone either way so many different times.
You look at it statistically, the games are always very, very even. I sit here and I say this sincerely, we could be sitting here and the record could be 1, 8 and 1 in favor of Southern Cal. The games have been that close. To say, well, you have something you do special. No, it really isn’t. The games are too close and they get down to the wire too often. If you look at prior to us starting the string, I think you’ll find that Southern Cal won something like 13 out of 15 games in that stretch. And I know at one time the students had a huge, huge banner made up that stretched from one dorm to the other it said stop this 7-year itch, or scratch the itch or something like that, that was the 7 consecutive years that Southern Cal had won.
No, I don’t think there’s anything. You go out there on Saturday and the records mean nothing. It will just be a heck of a football game. And other than that we have been very, very lucky and that will always even out and balance out over an extended amount of time.
Q. Lou, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about Bob Davie and what kind of coach you think he’ll make at Notre Dame, and if you have any advice for him?
COACH HOLTZ: I’m not one to giving advice, Bob doesn’t need any. Bob has been with us for 3 years. He’s an excellent coach, great morals, values, excellent with people. He really wanted the job badly, and that’s a great ingredient for it. I think that Bob addressed the team yesterday and said that he planned on keeping everything exactly the way that it is. I’m sure there will be some coaching changes, people move on to become head coaches. We have several that are strong candidates. But I think by and large he’ll look at his staff and I think much of it will be there. The athletes, it’s great, because the athletes won’t have to change. They know the way you run the winter program and what the routine is, et cetera. I’m sure Bob will be his own man and Bob will make whatever changes he feels comfortable with. But by and large from talking to him he’ll keep the program pretty much the same, and the philosophy and how we win and how we coach and what we emphasize and what we do, he’ll keep exactly the same, according to him. Now, if he wants to he can change that.
He’s been under some fine coaches. He was under Jackie Sherrill at Pittsburg; Archie Slocum at A&M. You learn a lot from where you’ve been. But I was at different places, but Woody Hayes had a strong influence on me and the way we did things. And Bob would have to address this more, but he’ll make whatever change he feels, I said. He told me he was going to keep everything the same. He said nothing is going to change, here. He said I think we have a great program. And I want to win the national championship, and I think we have a chance here. And I came here for that reason. And I agree with him. I’m very pleased with his appointment for a lot of reasons, but also because it’s the easiest transition for the athletes. It’s the easiest transition for the coaches. And I also feel that it sort of says in a roundabout way that Notre Dame says we like what was going on here. We like the manner in which it was done and we’d like to maintain that. Now, whether that was their message or not, I have no idea. But when I look at it and interpret it that’s what I get.
Q. I’m doing a story on John Shingler. I want to ask you what’s been your approach with walk-ons in your program?
COACH HOLTZ: We tie them up after each practice, beat them with a whip, because they’re not on scholarship.
No, I think, first of all, John Shingler is really a fine young man. And I’m very happy he’s been able to get in the last couple of games. John Shingler is a quarterback. We don’t have many quarterbacks. He helps in many ways, whether we work him on the kicking game or what. I have a great deal of affection for walk-ons, because I was a walk-on. I wasn’t on scholarship, played the game because I liked the game. So I have a special compassion. I know that people thought there they aren’t going to get their name in the paper for the most part. But what’s important is that they be — that they live by the same rules by everybody else, and that’s be the best you can be, care about the team and care about winning, and John Shingler has done that. He’s been a pleasure to have in the football program.
And I can say that about all the walk-ons. I have great compassion, whenever possible I try to get him in a football team. I don’t think I’ve had a walk-on that played for me that didn’t play at the University of Notre Dame. We try to address everybody at the home game, even though the sidelines is pure bedlam. You ought to be on the sideline when you’re addressing a hundred players and you’ve got a small sideline. We’re very proud of John, and I think John will be a tremendous success in life.
Q. Coach, could you talk a little bit about this last game from the perspective of it being your last game as coach of Notre Dame?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, I’ve been through so much the last three weeks, I think I’m oblivious to everything. I haven’t been able to sleep much, at all. I’ve tried to not think about that. I’ve tried to push everything else out of my mind. My only obligation is to our players. And it’s also the last game for many of our seniors and we want to do everything we can to see that our seniors have a chance to win their last game. And I’m sure there will be nostalgic feelings after, but right now I just don’t think that I’m afforded the luxury to sit back and think, gee, last game, et cetera. I think I’ll think about it after the game. And my thoughts are usually dependent on how well we played on our last game. But other than that I’ve not allowed myself to think about it.
Q. How has this job affected you over 11 years, or ten years or whatever it is at Notre Dame?
COACH HOLTZ: How has this job affected me?
COACH HOLTZ: I think it’s all been positive. I cannot think of a negative thing about this job. I think that as somebody said, I don’t know, that — I know it was Father Riley at our team mass and talking to the team said he felt that I had improved tremendously as a person and in my religious life, et cetera, since I’ve been here. He said I notice a tremendous change for Lou Holtz. You don’t come to Notre Dame to change it; Notre Dame will change you. I think that I can handle things better now than ever before.
I had an inner peace about being at the University of Notre Dame that maybe I didn’t have other places than I’ve been. I think I’ve always been very impatient and wanted to go here and go there, do this, do that. I’m basically a very, very insecure person. I think that’s pretty much well-known. I think a psychiatrist would have an absolute field day and several of them would love to get me on their couch, but I would have to say this, that I’ve had an inner peace at Notre Dame and never wanted to do anything except serve the Notre Dame.
To have three children graduate from here, to have my grandson baptized last Friday afternoon in the Log Chapel was really special and to have the glee club show up on their own volition and sing there, that was — that’s something I’ll never, ever forget. That was probably as emotional a time as I’ve ever had in my life.
Everything about Notre Dame has been positive, good. I’ve been pleased to be here and been proud to have been here. And I just thank the people the Notre Dame for allowing me to be here for 11 years. As I said, I went 1 and 4 my first year. People said I wasn’t going to last another year, and the first bit of advice I ever got about Notre Dame, whatever you do, you better start out well. If you start out losing a few games, people will never forgive you. And I’m sitting there 1 and 4. But I just feel so much gratitude to the people that allowed me to be here.
And now when I haven’t even looked on the horizon, but we’ll find out after this what happens, where I’ll go, what I’ll do. I know you people find that hard to believe I have no idea. Bob Costa said you always analyze everything, you don’t do anything off the top of your head. That’s absolutely right. That’s why this is crazy, absolute crazy.
Q. Coach, you said you would have preferred to be able to wait until the end of the season. Did you see Stalling’s resignation speech at Alabama? Would you have preferred to do it that way, after your last game and just get up and say I’m gone?
COACH HOLTZ: Oh, yeah. You’d love to be able to do that and get up and just say at the end of the year this is it. But I did not feel in all honesty — you usually have to have a successor, and to give them a chance to have a successor in line for recruiting, meeting with the players and everything else, I felt that this was an absolute necessity. Plus, we also have to keep in mind, we end up the season a week later, also. And December the 7th is a big recruiting weekend at Notre Dame. The following weekend we’ll have a recruiting weekend, I assume. We always have, but we’re in dead period then, there isn’t any classes going on. Then you don’t come back to school until the middle of January and you have one more recruiting weekend.
Your school schedule has a lot to do with it. That’s what I felt when I looked at the schedule. It’s impossible to wait until the end of the year. It would have been better for everybody, better for the players, better for the seniors, and better for me and certainly better for my family.
Q. Lou, considering the expenditure of emotions the last couple of weeks, yourself and your team, how do you guard against a letdown, I guess, for a better word or how do you maintain the emotion through another week?
COACH HOLTZ: It’s been hard. And I’ve got to be honest with you, yesterday morning I just had to emotion, no energy, didn’t even want to go to work. But it’s that old story about the mother goes in and wakes up her son and he says I don’t want to go to school, people hate me, students pick on me, the faculty dislike me. You’ve got to go to school. I don’t want to go to school. Give me two good reasons. No. 1, you’re 41 years of age, and No. 2 you’re the principal. I sort of felt that way. You’ve got to go. I don’t want to. You’ve got to go.
I actually got in there and by the time I got to practice I think when I visited well the squad yesterday, it was one of the stronger meetings I had with the football team since I’ve been here. But if I had to talk to them at 1 o’clock there’s no way in the world. You do what you have to do. Yeah, it’s going to be hard, but we have no choice in the matter. And this is Southern Cal week, and we will not be flat. We may not win because it’s Southern Cal, but we will be ready to play a football game. I feel sure of that.
Q. You’ve talked about your future being up in the air and you won’t consider it until after this last game. Could one of those scenarios pull you away before a bowl game that would make this your last game or is that something that you want to see through if there is a bowl game?
COACH HOLTZ: I don’t even think about a bowl game, because one, we have to win the game. And the only chance was to go to the Alliance Bowl. If we don’t go to the Alliance Bowl we’re shut out of a bowl game. I haven’t entertained that or thought about it. I really don’t — I don’t want to say anything that would come back and not be perfectly honest. But just let me say, I foresee nothing that would keep me from coaching in a bowl game. I foresee nothing at all.
Q. The other thing is Sunday I think and last week Bob Davie had said that Notre Dame is the best job in college football, the best coaching job. Someone who’s had it for 11 years and leaving it, would you agree and why or why not?
COACH HOLTZ: I think it’s the best job in coaching. I don’t think there’s any doubt about it. I think right now it’s the best job because it’s really on a sound program. You have great players and great people. You have tremendous enthusiasm. You’ve got great stadium addition. You’ll have better facilities than you’ve ever had. I don’t think there’s any doubt it’s the best job in college football. It was always the best job in college football to me. But I think it’s particularly good now for somebody coming in that can take it to another level, because it is sound. You look at it discipline-wise, talent-wise. You look at the recruiting prospects. It’s in very, very healthy condition right now by any criteria you want to measure it.
Q. Coach, you mentioned earlier that the job is tougher to be a football Coach in Division 1 for a lot of reasons. This could be the final year not only for yourself and Notre Dame but for John Majors is done at Pittsburg, and change at Boston College and change at Purdue. 21 openings, I think somebody said earlier today. Is that a reflection of the change in the game and how difficult it is and what’s expected? The higher standards, the tougher criteria?
COACH HOLTZ: I think there’s demands. You’ve got to field the stands, you’ve got to win, you’ve got to have your athletes graduate, be model citizens. There’s a lot of demands and more and more they’re taken away from you. The thing I’m concerned most is the ability to improve athletes. Football is a great sport for a lot of reasons, but one reason it’s a great sport is you can make an individual into a pretty good football player. I think Kevin Carretta is a good football player. Kevin Carretta walked on to the football program four years ago. And I see some other walk-ons. Billy Gibbs, what he’s done in the kicking game. When you have the opportunity to spend time with I am them, to win a program in spring program and fall practice. You can develop an individual.
I’m worrying they’ll take away so much of your time that you can’t develop an individual adequately, and football can be a hazardous game unless you’re fundamentally sound. You just — tremendous expectations on you. And it’s not an easy job, but it’s a great job. I can’t even think of anything else that would be as exciting as coaching, unless it would possibly be waiting in the cove for the coach to come out of practice. That’s the only thing I can parallel it with.
Q. Coach, in recruiting there’s a lot of talk over the years that part of your great strength as a recruiter is getting into a house and being able to close the deal, so to speak. How would you evaluate Bob Davie as a recruiter and in that same situation do you see him having that same strength and ability?
COACH HOLTZ: I think Bob Davie is an excellent recruiter. He’s a good salesman. If you’re a good coach you’re a good salesman. You have to have enthusiasm and that enthusiasm will last for five or six years.
I think I did a good job in the home. I know people have gone in there think I do. But timing is so important. I can’t think of very many homes where I’ve gone into the home we haven’t come out on top, we’ve been the first choice. But, boy, if he’s going to go on three more visits and eight different coaches are going to come into his home before he makes a decision, then that fades. So I think timing is everything. And that’s one of the more difficult things is being around the person when they’re ready to make the decision, but I’m sure Bob will do an excellent job of recruiting.
But the assistant coaches are also absolutely critical to recruiting because they have the weekly contact with an individual on it. But Bob will do a fine job. And I might add that I think Bob Chmiel, next to Vinnie Cerrato is as good a recruiter and organizer as I’ve been around. Bob Chmiel is special.
Q. Lou, having been in this position for 11 years, what is Bob Davie not prepared for in this job, No. 1. And No. 2, what, if anything, is he better prepared for than maybe you were?
COACH HOLTZ: I think he’s prepared for everything. He’s been with us three years, sees how we do it. And one thing I try to do it is I explain to all the assistant coaches what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, why this decision was made and what comes up and I try to prepare all our coaches to be head coaches. And so there’s no secrets. It’s not like, you know, the guy goes into the captain of the ship and opens up a little box and port right, and starboard left, that was what was important for him to remember every day. Like I can’t think of anything — he’s seen how we prepare for big games, how we handle disappointments, how we handle alumni. What in the world could possibly come up that hasn’t come up in the pass three years?
Q. Talking to us every day, day after day?
COACH HOLTZ: I want to tell you this. I can only tell you for me. First time I think about what I’m going to do is when I walk in here. When I walk in here and pick that up, that’s when my mind starts flying. That’s no exaggeration, at no times, exempt for last week when I prepared a statement. I have never prepared for any press conference. I’ve never prepared for anything walking out of a practice. I spend absolutely zilch time preparing for the media. And that’s not a reflection — I don’t have time to do it. And plus, that’s not me. I’m going to tell you what I feel. If you ask me about the administration, boom, boom, boom. I don’t have time to do that. So he’ll have no problem whatsoever. And I cannot think of a thing that he is not prepared for, I really can’t.
I also want to say this, we have another guy on — we have several guys on our staff that are going to be good head coaches, the best coach in the country, is Dave Roberts. He’s the most underrated coach, bar none; check out his won-loss record. Check out his recruiting. Check out the freshman, sophomore class. Check out the productivity of us on offense. And I want to tell you something, when we throw, have you ever seen our receivers covered? We have people wide open. Now, sometimes they get hit in the head with a ball, which is another good advantage of having the helmet on. But Dave Roberts is a very underrated coach. And I hope he gets an opportunity to be a head coach, because he’s going to be special, just like Bob Davie is.
Q. Coach, each of the last four games Jim Sanson has missed an extra point. Are you going to make a change, is Cengia back okay?
COACH HOLTZ: Cengia is back, fortunately he came back yesterday. His leg isn’t strong enough right now. I did not know the problem with Jim Sanson, like most freshmen they have a difficult time sometimes handling everything.
I am concerned about the extra point. And the one time we got tight out there was because we kicked a low field goal, not because they got penetration. We spent a little more time on two point plays, and we’ll just have to see. But right now we’ll go out and see what happens this week. But based on what happened yesterday, Cengia kicked well, but we’ve missed more extra points than I missed my whole life. I see guys, 147 in a row or some ridiculous thing like that. It should be automatic. It isn’t now. I used to turn and start talking to the kickoff team. Now I watch it. I watch it all the way through now.
Q. Coach, would you consider going into broadcasting? And if so, would you have a preference to be at the game with sports or possibly back in the studio?
COACH HOLTZ: I really hadn’t thought about it. I said so many times, and I think it’s true, I have a face ideally suited for radio and a lisp that’s ideally suited for silence. I don’t see where I would have a future in broadcasting. I did a game on radio. Once again I made no preparation. But they said they had several dozen calls from people that thought it was outstanding. I enjoyed doing it. And it’s harder to do on radio than I think on TV. On TV, I’d like to explain why somebody did something. On radio you’ve got to explain what happened.
I used to listen to games on radio. And you should have seen that, that was unbelievable, you missed it. I said what happened? Well, he never told me. He just said you should have seen it. So next time I tried to go to the game.
Nobody has contacted me on TV or radio on anything else. I wouldn’t mind being at the game. I wouldn’t mind being in the studio, except I’ve been in the studio one time for CBS and Pat O’Brien, there are pros and cons. The good thing was they had all kind of monitors and I saw every game. I think every game on TV, that was great. The bad thing, you have no time on the air. You’ve got a million things you want to say, and they say, that’s too long, you’ve got to cut it down. It’s hard for me to cut it down.
But people say well, you’ll go into broadcasting. I can’t believe that, whatever happens. And I don’t think there’s any interest on it. And I don’t know if there’s any interest on my part. I haven’t even thought about it.
Q. For the last 10 years after the final regular season game you prepared, recruiting-wise and everything, what will you be doing after the USC game prior to a bowl game if you do get a bid?
COACH HOLTZ: Well, I had a staff meeting this morning, this will basically be the last staff meeting I have, covered a variety of things. After the USC game I will come back, I will go down for the Doke Walker banquet in Dallas and then Wednesday I’ve got to go to a Hall of Fame dinner in Princeton, New Jersey, I think, I made a commitment a long time ago.
And then I don’t know whether they want me to speak at lunch, the homeless luncheon. I suggested they got a new speaker. I’ve been there so long and a new speaker would certainly draw a better crowd and create more interest. I’ve been there every year they had it.
And then the banquet on Friday. And Sunday we always have a brunch at my house. I will have the brunch at my house again at Bob Davie’s request, for the prospects. And then that whole week I won’t be in the office at all. I hope to be out of the office by Saturday. I hope to be out of the office. So that when you take those pictures down — 11 years, that office can get dirty. And I’m sure they’ll want to get some new furniture and get it painted, et cetera, for Bob. And he needs to have that office available for recruiting. And so I’m trying to vacate it as early as I possibly can, for him, not for any other reason, just for him so they can get it painted or whatever else they’re going to do. And then after that — that’s on the 6th is a banquet.
On the 8th is the luncheon or brunch at my house. And that day they announce a bowl game. Now, if we win, if we win against Southern Cal there’s a chance we’ll be in a bowl, although there’s no guarantee. If we are in a bowl, I will then arrange to meet with the players Sunday evening, that same day, and give them the practice schedule. The only times I will practice that football team will be the bare minimum necessary to prepare them for the bowl game. Now, Bob may choose to practice the underclassmen a few extra days. What I always did was I practiced the underclassmen extra days. And we had X amount of days for bowl preparation, X amount of days for underclass, like four days of spring practice. If that happens that would be Bob’s decision, and then I’d just tell the players when we’d practice and when I went in the office probably hang out in the offensive staff room or the defensive staff room, something like that. I’d just be watching film and doing those things. I spend most of my time in those meeting rooms, anyway. I wouldn’t have the need to have an office or anything else along that line.
Q. Coach, are you worried that your players might be too emotional going into the game?
COACH HOLTZ: No, not when we get done with Wednesday’s practice. We won’t be too emotional. No, there’s a way you approach things and a way you talk to them. And the way you handle it. And I think that’s critical. I think the players will take their — will take their direction by example from the Coach and the coaching staff. And I’m not going to be too emotional, I promise you that. It’s a Southern Cal game, enough said.