Lessons From Coach's Playbook
Notre Dame legend Lou Holtz made his
son a believer-at home
For a guy who
never thought he'd amount to much because of his diminutive stature,
a heavy lisp,, and an upbringing in a town called East Liverpool,
Ohio that was so remote it made Mayberry, USA seem like the cultural
capital of the universe, Lou Holtz has done pretty well for himself.
In 28 years of coaching at the collegiate level, Lou is number 11
all time in wins. He makes more money giving corporate pep talks on
the A-list lecture circuit than the President of the United States
pulls down in 2 years. He's won a national championship at Notre Dame,
is a best selling author, and an accomplished broadcaster with CBS.
Yet, if you ask Lou Holtz what he's most proud of right now, he will
probably tell you it's the fact that his son Skip is with him on the
Gamecocks coaching staff, his wife seems to have defeated cancer,
and half his grandchildren live within a few football fields of his
home in Columbia, South Carolina.
As they might say in the south, this fella's a hell of a football
coach, but dadgummit, he's a darn good dad too. And one who's proud
to have son Skip as his offensive coordinator.
"I sent Skip to Notre Dame so he would become a CEO, not a football
coach. When he decided he wanted to get into coaching, I put together
a list of 6-8 programs where I thought he would get the best training
to become successful. Tom Osborne, Joe Paterno, Terry Donahue and
others all responded favorably to the letters he wrote, but Bobby
Bowden said if you can be here in two days, I've got a job for you
at Florida State."
Skip took that route, learning under Bowden with the Seminoles and
eventually becoming Lou's offensive coordinator at Notre Dame when
the Irish racked up a 21-2-1 record in the early 90's. From there
it was off to the University of Connecticut, where he led the Huskies
into the Division One-AA playoffs on a regular basis. His stock as
one of the hot young coaching prospects was rising faster than the
line of disgruntled customers at the United Airlines ticket counter
at O'Hare. But just over a year ago, he decided that some things are
more important than having a bucket of Gatorade dumped on your head
on New Years Day. It was a lesson distilled in him years ago as his
father rose up the coaching ladder. Even though Lou Holtz couldn't
be with his four kids as much as he wanted while he was putting together
his hall of fame resume, he realized an important lesson on what it
takes to be successful as a father.
"The quality of father you are is not determined by the quantity
of time you spend with your kids," says Lou, "but the quality
of the time. I was always there when they needed me. I would make
a point to at least start the day by having breakfast with the kids
or pick them up from school or take them to or from practices when
possible. My wife was a tremendous mother and did a great job of explaining
to them that dad couldn't always be there because he was working,
but his hard work is allowing us to live in this nice house and have
this type of life."
Lou will leave an undeniable legacy on the game as a coach. But the
one he leaves as a father is more impressive than 216 wins. His son
Skip gave up his pursuit of personal glory as a head coach to be with
his father, so he and his own three kids could spend more time with
Beth Holtz, Lou's wife and Skip's mother who was suffering from Stage
"There is no doubt in my mind that Skip's decision to move here,
and have his family near Beth helped her tremendously. She is doing
marvelous and her recovery from cancer has been truly remarkable."
It doesn't matter what South Carolina's record is in their own stadium,
Lou Holtz has already built a truly impressive record at home.
is a television sportscaster for Fox and a free-lance writer in
Boston. He has a two-and-a-half year old daughter named Brooke.
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