Last year he advertised in the school paper for someone who could snap the ball
on punts. A number of people showed up to try. One was good enough to make the
team. But just before the Oklahoma State game, the player called Holtz and
said, "I can't take the pressure. I'm gonna quit. What if I make a bad
snap?" Whimpered Holtz, "What if I get fired?"
coaches, Holtz always plays his second offensive unit for at least one series
of downs each half. He even did it in the Texas loss. "It's not hard to
understand if you've been a second-teamer all your fife," he explains. And
how does he motivate offensive linemen? "I tell them the offensive line is
the last stop before the bus stop."
will be Holtz' last coaching' stop is, of course, not known, but there is
widespread speculation that when Woody Hayes retires at Ohio State, Holtz will
be a prime candidate for the job. Holtz was a defensive backfield coach under
Hayes in 1968 and recalls O. J. Simpson's 80-yard touchdown run against the
Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl. Hayes screamed, "Why did he go 80 yards?"
Said Holtz, "Coach, that's all he needed."
coaching as a senior at Kent State after a knee injury and an operation ended
his career as a 152-pound center and linebacker. "I was not a good football
player," he states unequivocally. At graduation time, Lou wanted only to
marry Beth Barcus and settle down with the high school coaching job he had been
offered in Euclid, Ohio. But Kent State Coach Trevor Rees persuaded Holtz to
take a job as a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa, where Holtz
received his master's degree in 1961.
assistant job at Iowa, he held similar positions at William & Mary,
Connecticut, South Carolina and Ohio State. In 1969, Lou finally landed a head
coaching job, at William & Mary, and in 1972 he took over at North Carolina
State. "I'm not a magician," he told the Wolfpack fans. "There's no
such thing as magic." Then he'd do some of his magic tricks. But there may
be such a thing as magic: NC State went to four straight bowls under Holtz.
Once, trying to
make ends meet, Holtz signed up to sell cemetery plots. "You can't sell
anything," Beth chided. "She was wrong," Lou says. "By the end
of the summer, I'd sold our stereo, our car and our television."
Being at Arkansas
with a national championship contender and slavering adulation is very heady
stuff for a scrawny kid from Follansbee, W. Va. "I loved that state,"
says Holtz. "I stayed there until the age of reason." The Holtz family
was not all that poor, but Lou did develop the habit of "looking in my
wallet, not the mirror, to see whether I needed a haircut."
Later his family
moved to East Liverpool, Ohio, which, he says, "is on the river, except
every spring when it's in the river." At East Liverpool High he was a
103-pound blocking back and pulling guard. On Saturday night after a game, the
big deal for Lou was to go down to the Golden Star Dairyland on Route 30 and
count the cars and the girls.
When he married
Beth, whom he met when she was dating a mutual friend in East Liverpool, Lou
had a booklet of car payments and $6 in his pocket. His mother-in-law sent Beth
a dress and Lou promptly returned it with a note, "When it gets to where I
can't clothe my wife, I'll keep her in the house."
Beth wishes Lou
would slow down some so he could spend more time with his family. Says Holtz,
"I know the names of three of our four kids." He does not, however,
know his address, but he can get his home phone number correct within one
digit. Why does Beth put up with his erratic schedule and temperament?
"She's easily satisfied by the very best," says Holtz.