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That’s what he said: Lou Holtz

Nov 10, 2010, 2:22 PM EDT

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Former Notre Dame coach and current pop football psychologist Lou Holtz was back on campus at Notre Dame for his foundation this week and entertained a small group of reporters.

Here’s what he said:

Talking about his current schedule:

“One step from suicide, two steps ahead of the posse. I’ve been everywhere except to bed, I’ve spoken to everybody except my wife and I’m convinced Mother Teresa has a better social life than I have. I’m doing fine. My health is good, my energy. I’m far too busy… My wife said, ‘You need to go back into coaching so you can get rest. At least you’re at home at night.'”

On why he’s confident that Brian Kelly will succeed at Notre Dame:

“I think he’s won every place he’s been. He wants to be here. He has a love of Notre Dame. He’s smart. You learn as you go along with different choices and decisions. I think that like anything else, when you’re responsible for a program, you look and say, ‘What changes do I have to make?’ and you make changes to be successful.

“As a coach, he’s has won everywhere he’s been, and he didn’t do it because he had superior talent. He won because he knows how to coach and do things. What I say is, ‘He’s our coach. Let’s all rally behind him and support him. The media doesn’t have to do that, but I’m talking about the Notre Dame family.”

On how he dealt with criticism as a coach and how he protected his staff and team from it:

“Nobody knows how many times I got down on my knee and prayed that I would have the leadership and the attitude to be able to handle those things when I went in there. You can’t go in there dealing from a low hand. You’ve got to go in there and feel that we’re going to get this thing done and we’re going to make whatever changes have to be done. But it doesn’t happen just because that’s the way you feel that day. There’s a lot of problems and difficulties and obstacles you have to look and say, “What can I correct today? What can I correct in the next week? What is going to take a year to correct?” Then focus on the things that you can correct now and don’t worry about the things you can’t change.

“There was never any doubt in my mind that we would be successful after my first year (at Notre Dame), even. I never even thought about getting fired. I never thought that this isn’t going to work out because I knew that every place I’d been, we followed this plan and we eventually won, and I felt we would do it here also. We should have turned this thing around a lot quicker than we did, because we had talent in ’86. They didn’t buy into it as quickly as needed, but each week we got more converts.

“What I sold them on was, “You’re laying the foundation. You aren’t going to win the championship, but when we do, you’re going to be able to say you did.” Tim Brown and Steve Beuerlein still talk about (how) they laid the foundation for what followed. That’s what we sold them on, and I’m sure Brian is doing the same thing.”

On the players on the Irish that he enjoys watching:

“I think Michael Floyd is special. I think that guy’s one of the best receivers I have seen. I enjoy your linebacker, Manti Te’o. I wish they had pronunciation guides with that. I think that guy’s a great player. I love the way he plays, the enthusiasm he plays with and the toughness he plays. Those two people stand out.”

On whether or not he’s been having fun with his hectic schedule:

“Let me tell you, I don’t necessarily have fun. I’ve got a headache. Do you know where Bristol is? Bristol is 15 minutes from Hartford by telephone. It’s in the middle of nowhere. But you know what? When they turn that red light on, I’m going to have more fun than anybody else, because if I have fun doing TV, people fun watching. If I get up to speak, I may not want to, but I’m gonna to have fun, because then people will enjoy listening.

“What else am I going to do? I don’t know. But what scares you is you have to have something to hope for. I’m going to have fun whatever I’m doing. Sitting here, I’m going to act like I’m having fun.”

  1. 9irish - Nov 10, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    classic! the only difference is that when he took over he only had to overcome about 5 years of mediocrity. Now we’re talking about 15, with a few good seasons thrown in there that brought optimism. They did not do a very good job of thinking about hiring ever since Old Lou left. They might have got it right this time, but only time will tell.

  2. bostonjan - Nov 10, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    Thank you Keith. Encouraging comments and an rousing endorsement of coach Kelly from someone who really knows what he’s talking about. Let’s follow his advice as the ND family in rallying behind our coach and supporting him, the staff, and the players. (Like Lou) we might discover that it’s more fun than tearing people down and predicting doom & gloom.

  3. grouchomarx4 - Nov 10, 2010 at 4:18 PM

    Kelly green Kool Aid.

  4. jerseyshorendfan1 - Nov 10, 2010 at 8:22 PM

    “I’ve been everywhere, except to bed.” Gotta love that guy. He feels that Kelly’s winning ways will take hold as long as everybody buys in. Such a simple concept, yet so hard to put in place.

  5. papadec - Nov 11, 2010 at 1:07 AM

    I like his closing line the best. Go Irish!!!!!!

  6. c4evr - Nov 12, 2010 at 3:57 PM

    I’ll start by saying I’m a big fan of Lou. Anybody who looks like a grade school biology teacher that can come into the most storied program in college athletics and manage to inspire 300 lb. lineman to give their all should be in the running for canonization in my book. That aside, I see many similarities between LH and BK with one glaring difference. While Holtz’s biggest knock was that he was ‘too conservative’, or played ‘not to lose’, BK’s gunslinger approach has done more to alienate his constituency – as well as hinder the trust building process with his impressionable team. Sure, Holtz’s self effacing sensibilities were part of his schtick, but it worked and won more converts than BK’s ‘get used to it’ approach. Kelly’s questionable calls from the sidelines in his rookie season has undermined all his stated goals. Also, his less than stellar response to the Sullivan incident only further called his leadership and credibility into question. While Rev. Jenkins ultimately did the right thing in assuming responsibility, Declan was entrusted to Swarbrick and Kelly specifically. I wonder how Holtz would have handled the situation had it occurred under his watch…

    • 9irish - Nov 12, 2010 at 4:07 PM

      I concur, wholeheartedly. Lou was always, “Aw shucks, I don’t know how we’re gonna beat these fellas” and then go out and win by 35 pts. Kelly is very poor at manipulating people (fans and media, esp), and it keeps smacking him in the back of the head. Lou was the master of it.

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