Holtz says coaches have reasons for decisions

Published 11:33 pm Saturday, August 20, 2011

Players, parents, fans, media analysts and armchair quarterbacks who have all the answers to coach their team better come well-armed if they ever get in a discussion about coaching with Lou Holtz.

Holtz — the ESPN college football studio analyst who took five different programs to bowls and won a national championship at Notre Dame — spends a lot of his time giving inspirational speeches to corporations.

Much of what Holtz says is basically how he successfully ran his corporation, a.k.a. a college football program.

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When people question why a coach does certain things, they only need to talk with Holtz to get an answer.

Holtz knows it takes hard work to win. As he once quipped, “No one ever drowned in sweat.”

Players make sacrifices to play football or any game for that matter. Parents make sacrifices as well. Holtz said it is only through sacrifice that people can be successful.

“Losers don’t look on it as sacrifice, they look on it as punishment,” said Holtz.

“When I look back, everything I did in coaching involved sacrifice including family. You’re family has to make sacrifices as well and they don’t always understand it.”

Holtz said his family once complained that he wasn’t around very much and that he spent too much time at his job. Holtz took his family to a lower income neighborhood and told them they could live here and not belong to the country club or have nice things and he could have another job where he was home all the time.

They understood. They even went as far as to ask him after two straight evenings at home, “Are you sure you aren’t supposed to be somewhere?”

Of course, there is more than just sacrifice. Holtz said players must be taught fundamentals and be disciplined.

“Any time you talk about sacrifice you talk about fundamentals. Great students learn how to read and write. The best fundamental team wins. If you’re fundamentally sound you always have a foundation,” said Holtz.

Ironton football coach Bob Lutz makes his players cut their hair and be clean-shaven. Holtz would be proud.

“In order to win, I felt we had to have our athletes on campus for three years. I made that a rule. Did they like it? No. But I felt that was important,” said Holtz.

“I also didn’t let them live off campus because that’s what they wanted. I felt for us to win they had to be on campus. We had to be a family. That’s why I made that decision. Would it help us win?”

Holtz said his focus was on his players and his program. He didn’t pay attention to what anyone on the outside had to say.

“Understand your purpose. All I’m trying to do is graduate our athletes and win. When I was at Notre Dame, every decision I made was how can we graduate and how can we win, not how can we put them in the pros and how can we keep them happy,” said Holtz.

Okay, let’s throw it open to discussion.

— Sinatra —

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.