Lou Holtz | University of Portland

Lou Holtz

The effervescent Lou Holtz is an author, speaker, raconteur, sportscaster, and former coach in both the collegiate and professional football ranks. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Holtz is the only coach to ever lead six different programs to bowl games. His 1988 Notre Dame team won the NCAA national championship, and he also coached the professional New York Jets during the 1976 season. He is the author of ten books, including not one but two collections of his quick and merry witticisms, and today is a college football analyst for ESPN. He and his wife Beth have four children, three of whom have savored the many virtues of a Holy Cross education.

Born in Follansbee, West Virginia, in 1937, Holtz graduated from East Liverpool High in Ohio and went on to Kent State University (where he was a wraith of a linebacker), from which he graduated in 1959. He began his coaching career that next season, at the University of Iowa, where he earned his master’s degree while serving as a graduate assistant coach. He then was an assistant coach at William & Mary, Connecticut, South Carolina, and Ohio State, where the Buckeyes won the national championship during Holtz’s single season as an assistant to Woody Hayes. Holtz then was a head coach at William & Mary, North Carolina State, the New York Jets of the National Football League, Arkansas, Minnesota, and finally Notre Dame. Arriving under the Dome in 1986, Holtz led the Irish to bowl games for nine consecutive seasons, still a Notre Dame record; his 1988 team was national champion, his 1989 and 1993 teams finished second nationally, and his tenure as coach was so successful and entertaining that a statue of Coach Holtz was installed on the Notre Dame campus in 2008 — a rare honor indeed for such a storied university.

Holtz retired from coaching in 1996 and began a colorful career as a sports commentator; in 1999 he was lured back to South Carolina to resurrect the football program, which he did with such panache that he was named the national coach of the year in 2000. He retired from coaching again in 2004, and resumed a busy schedule of sports commentary, motivational speeches, and writing. Among his many books are A Teen’s Game Plan for Life and his autobiography, Wins, Losses, and Lessons. He also lends his talents to Catholic causes, is active politically, and keeps a sharp eye on his oldest son Skip, head coach of the University of South Florida football team.