Skip Holtz

American college football player, college football coach

Encyclopedia from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Skip Holtz
refer to caption
Holtz at 2017 C-USA Media Days
Birmingham Stallions
Position:Head coach
Personal information
Born: (1964-03-12) March 12, 1964 (age 58)
Willimantic, Connecticut
Career information
High school:Fayetteville
(Fayetteville, Arkansas)
College:Notre Dame
Career history
As a coach:
As an executive:
Career highlights and awards
  • USFL champion (2022)
  • 2 C-USA (2008, 2009)
  • 2 C-USA East Division (2008, 2009)
  • 3 C-USA West Division (2014, 2016, 2019)
  • Atlantic 10 New England Division (1998)
  • C-USA Coach of the Year (2016)
Head coaching record
Regular season:
  • USFL: 9–1 (.900)
Postseason:USFL: 2–0 (1.000)
  • College: 152–121 (.557)
  • USFL: 11–1 (.917)

Louis Leo "Skip" Holtz Jr. (born March 12, 1964) is an American football coach who is the head coach for the Birmingham Stallions of the United States Football League (USFL). Previously, he was the head coach for the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (2013-2021), South Florida Bulls (2010–2012), East Carolina Pirates (2005–2009), and Connecticut Huskies (1994–1998). He has also served as an assistant coach for the South Carolina Gamecocks (1999–2004), Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1990–1993), Colorado State Rams (1989) and Florida State Seminoles (1987-1988).

Skip's father, Lou Holtz, is a former head football coach and worked as a commentator on the television channel ESPN.[1] Due to his father's career as a collegiate football coach, Skip was exposed to football from an early age. He played college football at Notre Dame, where he played mostly on special teams. He joined the coaching ranks immediately upon graduation from college, working initially for Bobby Bowden as an assistant at Florida State. He gradually worked his way through the ranks at various NCAA Division I schools before being named head coach at Connecticut in 1994. He has an overall record of 152 wins and 121 losses as a head coach, including eight bowl wins and two conference championships.

Early life

Skip Holtz grew up in many towns while his father coached football. After Skip was born in Connecticut, the Holtz family moved to Columbia, South Carolina for two years, as his father worked as an assistant coach at the University of South Carolina. In 1968, the family moved to Columbus, Ohio after Holtz took a job at Ohio State University. One year later, the Holtz family moved to Williamsburg, Virginia and The College of William & Mary for Lou's first head coaching position. After two seasons, Lou took a head coaching position with the Wolfpack of North Carolina State University. The family lived in Raleigh, North Carolina for four years until Lou accepted a head coaching job for the National Football League's New York Jets. The family lived in Cold Spring Harbor, New York for one year, while Lou coached the Jets. After resigning from the Jets, Lou took his family back to the American South when he accepted the head coaching job in Fayetteville, Arkansas, at the University of Arkansas in 1977. In Fayetteville, Skip attended Fayetteville High School and graduated in 1982.[2]

Playing career

While at high school in Fayetteville, Skip played for the school's football team at the quarterback position, bringing moderate success to the program. As a high school junior, he visited Notre Dame and met with head football coach Gerry Faust and head basketball coach Digger Phelps. In his final year of high school, Skip was denied admission to Notre Dame due to average grades and his failure to learn a foreign language. Coaches Faust and Phelps encouraged Skip to enroll at nearby Holy Cross College, located adjacent to the university in Notre Dame, Indiana. After two years of study at Holy Cross, Skip had improved his grades and transferred to Notre Dame. After his first year, Skip decided he wanted to speak with Coach Faust about walking on to the football team during his senior year. The discussions were cut short, however, as after the 1985 season, Coach Faust resigned. Replacing Faust was Skip's father, Lou, who eagerly accepted his son as a walk-on. Skip began spring practice before the 1986 season as a quarterback, but quickly changed to flanker due to his lack of throwing ability. As a flanker, he earned 54 yards on three receptions at the Blue-Gold intra-squad game in the spring of 1986. During the fall of 1986, Skip played in all 11 games on special teams. He never caught a pass, but rushed once for one yard.[3]

Coaching career

Early positions

Skip coached under Bobby Bowden for two years.

Due to Skip's lack of success on the field and his desire to remain associated with football, he began to investigate the possibility of becoming a coach. After Skip told Lou he wanted to start coaching, Lou put together a list of potential coaches who would give him the best training. The list included Tom Osborne, Joe Paterno, and Terry Donahue, but upon hearing of Skip's interest, Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden said, "if you can be here in two days, I've got a job for you at Florida State."[4]

Upon arriving at Florida State in 1987, he became the graduate assistant coach.[5] He met his future wife, Jennifer, in Coach Bowden's office while in Tallahassee.[6] He left after two years to become the wide receivers coach at Colorado State University under coach Earle Bruce.[7] After one season, he went back to Notre Dame to coach under his father.[7]

Notre Dame

Holtz's first job at his alma mater was to serve as wide receivers coach, and he filled the position for two years. In 1992, the team began a search for a new offensive coordinator. Lou's first choice, Joe Moore, declined. Lou then asked Skip for recommendations to fill the position. Skip initially said he wanted the position but said of Lou, "he couldn't do it at that time with me [Skip] being his son."[3] Skip then mentioned Mark Richt, who was then the offensive coordinator at Florida State. Lou Holtz called Coach Bowden to ask permission to speak to Mark Richt. Coach Bowden said Holtz could hire Richt as long as he could hire Skip. Coach Holtz said, "Well, if I'm just going to switch coaches, I might as well hire Skip."[3] Skip became Notre Dame's offensive coordinator in 1992. Between 1992 and 1994, Skip and his father recorded 40 wins, eight losses, and one tie, an 82.7% winning percentage. Together, they coached Notre Dame to the Cotton Bowl Classic twice, beating Texas A&M both times. Skip had the third-best total offense in the NCAA during the 1992 football season.[3]


Following his success at Notre Dame, Skip Holtz was asked to become the head coach of the Connecticut Huskies. He accepted the offer and took his first head coaching job on December 23, 1993. He replaced Tom Jackson, who had gone 14–19 over the past three years and had decided to resign on November 17, 1993.[8][9] He agreed to a four-year contract at a salary of $95,000 a year. Even though Skip came from a "major football institution" (Notre Dame), University of Connecticut President Dr. Harry J. Hartley said that the hire "should not be seen as a signal that Connecticut intends to upgrade its program."[5] Despite Hartley's remarks, Holtz planned to help elevate the team from I-AA to I-A. Holtz commented on Hartley's remarks by saying "I'd love to have the opportunity to coach a Division I team here...."[10] In 1998, UConn, after 100 years of football and five years with Skip Holtz as its head coach, played in its first Division I-AA playoff game. The Huskies scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat Hampton University, 42–34.[11] In the next round of the playoffs, the Huskies lost to eventual runner-up Georgia Southern on December 5. Two days later, Skip resigned as head coach of the Huskies in order to rejoin his father, who had taken the head coaching job at South Carolina the day before the Huskies' loss. As the leader of the Huskies football team, he accumulated a winning percentage of .596 (34–23) over five seasons.

South Carolina

Skip Holtz's father, Lou

On December 4, 1998, The University of South Carolina announced that Lou Holtz would serve as its next head football coach. Lou asked Skip if he would move down to Columbia to become his offensive coordinator—the same position Skip held during his final two years at Notre Dame. Skip accepted the offer, in part due to a desire to live closer to his parents and so his children could spend more time with their grandparents.[4] In 1996, Skip's mother, Beth, was diagnosed with throat cancer. Two years later, the cancer spread to her liver, lung, adrenal glands, and ovary. Meanwhile, Skip and Lou continued to coach football at South Carolina. As Lou began to struggle as head coach, the question of his eventual successor arose. When Skip was hired in 1998, Lou had included a clause in the hiring contract that Skip would succeed him after he retired. South Carolina Athletic Director Mike McGee rebutted by saying, "There are no formal or informal guarantees at him," and "It's always helpful to have potential succession in a staff."[12]

The 2000 and 2001 seasons brought South Carolina back to national prominence with consecutive Outback Bowl wins over Ohio State and season ending rankings in the Top 25. However, after going 5–7 the following two seasons and suffering a season-ending blowout in 2003 by intrastate rival Clemson, Skip was demoted from the offensive coordinator and assistant head coaching positions to quarterbacks coach. Four assistant coaches—including the team's defensive coordinator—were fired in the same shakeup that saw Skip demoted.[13] On November 22, 2004, one season after Skip's demotion, Lou Holtz announced he was retiring as head coach of South Carolina.[14] The next day, South Carolina announced Steve Spurrier as the next head football coach.[15] Coach Spurrier announced that he was keeping only three members of Lou Holtz's staff. Letters were sent to all the other staffers—including Skip Holtz—informing them that they likely would not be retained.[16]

East Carolina

Holtz at ECU in 2007.

With his firing imminent, Holtz resigned. Because he was formerly a head coach, Skip had several offers from Division I-A and Division I-AA teams. After several interviews, he elected to take the head coaching position at East Carolina University. East Carolina announced Skip Holtz as their 19th head football coach on December 3, 2004. Holtz assumed control of a program that won just three games in its past 25 contests.[17] Skip signed 23 athletes in his first recruiting class, including his first commit, Rob Kass. Also included in the recruiting class was future NFL player Aundrae Allison.[18] Skip's first victory at ECU came in the first game of the 2005 season as the Pirates defeated the Duke Blue Devils 24–21 at Dowdy–Ficklen Stadium. The victory was ECU's first non-conference Division I win since 2000, when the Pirates won the Bowl against Texas Tech.[19] During Holtz's first season, the Pirates also defeated conference foes Rice, Southern Methodist University, Marshall University, and the University of Alabama Birmingham.

In 2006, Holtz's second season as head coach, ECU won seven games, including victories over intrastate rival North Carolina State University, Conference USA East rival Southern Miss, and ACC foe Virginia. As a reward for their season, the Pirates earned their first bowl game under Holtz's tenure, playing the Bulls of the University of South Florida in the Bowl, losing 24–7.[20] Despite the bowl loss, the 2006 season was ECU's first winning season since 2000, and the Bowl was the Pirates' first bowl game since 2001.[21]

In 2007, Holtz's team won eight games, including wins over intrastate rival North Carolina and going 3–2, versus Conference USA East opponents. Finishing second in the East Division, Holtz's team was invited to the Hawai'i Bowl to play #24 Boise State University.[22][23] East Carolina won the bowl game 41–38. This was the first bowl victory since the 2000 Bowl versus Texas Tech. It was also the first back-to-back winning season and bowl berth since the 1999 and 2000 seasons.

The 2008 season was opened with two upsets over ranked opponents; 17th ranked Virginia Tech in week one and 8th ranked West Virginia. This was the first time a Conference USA team beat three ranked teams in a row. Skip finished up the season 9–5, which included a C-USA East Division title and C-USA Champions title. This was the first time the Pirates played in the C-USA Championship Game. It also was the first conference title since 1976. The Pirates played in the Liberty Bowl, losing to Kentucky, 25–19. This was the third Liberty Bowl appearance. The last time the Pirates went to three straight bowl games was the 1999, 2000 and 2001 seasons. In 2009 Skip Holtz led the ECU Pirates to a second CUSA championship.

South Florida

On January 14, 2010, it was announced that Holtz accepted the head coach position at the University of South Florida, in Tampa, Florida, taking the place of the recently fired Jim Leavitt.[24] A press conference to introduce Holtz to the community was held January 15, 2010. When someone in the crowd called out, "Beat Florida!", Holtz replied, "That's why I'm here!"[25] However, the Bulls would eventually end up on the short end of the stick in their match-up with the Gators later that season, 38–14.[26]

Holtz earned his first win as head coach of the Bulls on September 1, 2010, in USF's season opener against Stony Brook 59–14. Later that season, Holtz led his Bulls to the program's first victory over the Miami Hurricanes. At the end of the season Holtz lead the USF Bulls to a mostly dominant 31–26 victory over the Clemson Tigers at the Meineke Car Care Bowl. This would mark the first Bowl victory for USF over a BCS team. The Bulls finished with an 8–5 record, but 3–4 in Big East play.

To start the 2011 season, Skip Holtz led the Bulls to an emotional homecoming against his alma mater, Notre Dame. After the 6 hour game and 2 rain delays, USF left South Bend with a 23–20 victory. However, the Bulls finished the season with a disappointing record of 5–7, 1–6 in Big East play. The 2012 season was even worse as the Bulls fell to a dismal 3–9, 1–6 in Big East play. USF fired Holtz at the conclusion of the 2012 season.[27]

Louisiana Tech

On December 13, 2012, Holtz accepted an offer to become the head coach for the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.[28] His first season, 2013, was a down year, as he finished well below expectations at 4–8. However, 2014 would see a big turnaround. Holtz's Bulldogs went on to finish first in C-USA West at 9–5 with a 35–18 win over Illinois in the Heart Of Dallas Bowl.[29] In 2015, the Bulldogs continued their success finishing 9–4 and winning the New Orleans Bowl over Arkansas State, 47–28.[30] The 2020 season saw a final record of 5-5, and also saw a disastrous 3-38 bowl loss to Georgia Southern. The 2021 season was even worse, with a final record of 3-9 (and no bowl invite) after which Holtz was fired by Louisiana Tech.[31]

Birmingham Stallions (USFL)

On January 20, 2022, Holtz was named Head coach and General manager of the Birmingham Stallions of the United States Football League (USFL).[32]

Personal life

Holtz and his wife Jennifer Fitzgerald, whom he met while he was working at Florida State, have two sons and a daughter.[6][33] Holtz co-hosts theannual spring golf tournament named the Drew Steele-Skip Holtz Golf Classic. Drew Steele is the son of former East Carolina basketball coach Mike Steele and has Down syndrome. When they first met, Holtz was impressed by Drew's positive attitude, and he has since called upon Drew to help motivate the football team, both as a speaker and through work with the team.[34] The Drew Steele-Skip Holtz Golf Classic benefits citizens of Pitt County with special needs.[35]

Postseason experience

Holtz has participated in 21 postseason games in his coaching career. Twelve games occurred while he was head coach and eight when he was an assistant coach. Of the twelve games where he was the head coach, ten occurred in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) (formerly Division I-A) and two occurred in Division I-AA (now known as Football Championship Subdivision). As a FBS head coach, he is 8–3 in bowl games.

Bowl year Bowl game Participants Result Rank
2020 New Orleans Bowl Louisiana Tech vs. Georgia Southern L 3–38
2019 Independence Bowl Louisiana Tech vs. Miami W 14–0
2018 Hawaii Bowl Louisiana Tech vs. Hawaii W 31–14
2017 Frisco Bowl Louisiana Tech vs. SMU W 51–10
2016 Armed Forces Bowl Louisiana Tech vs. Navy W 48–45
2015 New Orleans Bowl Louisiana Tech vs. Arkansas State W 47–28
2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl Louisiana Tech vs. Illinois W 35–18
2010 Meineke Car Care Bowl South Florida vs. Clemson W 31–26
2009 Liberty Bowl East Carolina vs. Arkansas L 17–20 OT
2008 Liberty Bowl East Carolina vs. Kentucky L 19–25
2007 Hawaii Bowl East Carolina vs. Boise State W 41–38
2006 Bowl East Carolina vs. South Florida L 27–7
2002 Outback Bowl South Carolina vs. Ohio State W 31–28 #13
2001 Outback Bowl South Carolina vs. Ohio State W 31–7 #19
1998 Playoffs Connecticut vs. Hampton
Connecticut vs.Georgia Southern
W 42–34
L 52–30
1994 Cotton Bowl Classic Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M W 24–21 #2
1993 Cotton Bowl Classic Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M W 24–3 #4
1992 Sugar Bowl Notre Dame vs. Florida W 39–28 #13
1991 Orange Bowl Notre Dame vs. Colorado L 10–9 #6
1989 Sugar Bowl Florida State vs. Auburn W 13–7 #3
1988 Fiesta Bowl Florida State vs. Nebraska W 31–28 #2

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs TSN#
Connecticut Huskies (Yankee Conference/Atlantic 10 Conference) (1994–1998)
1994 Connecticut 4–7 4–4 3rd (New England)
1995 Connecticut 8–3 5–3 2nd (New England) 23
1996 Connecticut 5–6 3–5 4th (New England)
1997 Connecticut 7–4 4–4 T–2nd (New England)
1998 Connecticut 10–3 6–2 T–1st (New England) L NCAA Division I-AA Quarterfinal 9
Connecticut: 34–23 22–18
East Carolina Pirates (Conference USA) (2005–2009)
2005 East Carolina 5–6 4–4 4th (East)
2006 East Carolina 7–6 5–3 2nd (East) L
2007 East Carolina 8–5 6–2 T–2nd (East) W Hawaii
2008 East Carolina 9–5 6–2 1st (East) L Liberty
2009 East Carolina 9–5 7–1 1st (East) L Liberty
East Carolina: 38–27 28–12
South Florida Bulls (Big East Conference) (2010–2012)
2010 South Florida 8–5 3–4 T–5th W Meineke Car Care
2011 South Florida 5–7 1–6 T–7th
2012 South Florida 3–9 1–6 8th
South Florida: 16–21 5–16
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (Conference USA) (2013–2021)
2013 Louisiana Tech 4–8 3–5 5th (West)
2014 Louisiana Tech 9–5 7–1 1st (West) W Heart of Dallas
2015 Louisiana Tech 9–4 6–2 2nd (West) W New Orleans
2016 Louisiana Tech 9–5 6–2 1st (West) W Armed Forces
2017 Louisiana Tech 7–6 4–4 4th (West) W Frisco
2018 Louisiana Tech 8–5 5–3 T–2nd (West) W Hawaii
2019 Louisiana Tech 10–3 6–2 T–1st (West) W Independence
2020 Louisiana Tech 5–5 4–2 3rd (West) L New Orleans
2021 Louisiana Tech 3–9 2–6 T–6th (West)
Louisiana Tech: 64–50 43–27
Total: 152–121
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth
  • #Rankings from final Sports Network Poll.


Team Year Regular Season Postseason
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
BHAM 2022 9 1 0 .900 1st (South Division) 2 0 1.000 USFL Champions


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  2. ^ "Lou Holtz". Coach Bio. 2008. Archived from the original on November 8, 2006. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d Hansen, Eric (2005). Notre Dame: Where Have You Gone?. South Bend, IN: Sports Publishing LLC. pp. 81–85. ISBN 1-58261-151-3.
  4. ^ a b Zenner, Tom (September 8, 2000). "Notre Dame legend Lou Holtz made his son a believer-at home". Life Lessons From Coach's Playbook. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
  5. ^ a b Wallace, William (December 23, 1993). "College Football; Skip Holtz Is Hired by UConn". The New York Times. Retrieved March 8, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Hudson, Jane Welborn (August 29, 2005). "The four F's: Food, fun, fellowship and football for the Holtz family". The Daily Reflector. Retrieved March 8, 2008.
  7. ^ a b "Skip Holtz Profile". Football. University of South Carolina. Retrieved March 8, 2008.
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  11. ^ Cavanaugh, Jack (November 29, 1998). "Sunshine on UConn's Shoulders in Playoffs". The New York Times. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
  12. ^ "Skip Holtz To Join His Dad At S.C." CBS Sportsline. December 7, 1998. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
  13. ^ Haney, Travis (July 30, 2004). "Holtz tries to change 'culture'". Augusta Chronicle. Archived from the original on September 15, 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
  14. ^ "Lou Holtz Announces Retirement From Coaching" (Press release). Gamecocks Online. November 22, 2004. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
  15. ^ "Steve Spurrier Announced as New Head Football Coach at South Carolina" (Press release). Gamecocks Online. November 23, 2004. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
  16. ^ Iacobelli, Pete (November 29, 2004). "Spurrier assembles staff; Taps son to coach wide receivers". The Associated Press. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
  17. ^ Myatt, Al (December 3, 2004). "Holtz the chosen one to resurrect program". Archived from the original on May 17, 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
  18. ^ "Thumbnail sketches of 23 players signed by ECU". Football Recruiting. February 4, 2005. Archived from the original on March 17, 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
  19. ^ Myatt, Al (September 4, 2005). "Therapy brought to you by Terry Holland". Archived from the original on September 16, 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
  20. ^ O'Brien, Denny (December 24, 2006). "Bulls expose holes for ECU". The Slants of the Game. Archived from the original on July 20, 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
  21. ^ "2005". East Carolina Yearly Results. College Football Data Warehouse. 2008. Archived from the original on April 22, 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
  22. ^ "Standings". History/Records. Conference USA. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
  23. ^ "East Carolina Pirates 2007 Football Schedule & Links". February 27, 2008. Archived from the original on May 4, 2008. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
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  26. ^ No. 8 Florida 38, South Florida 14 Archived September 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  27. ^ McMurphy, Brett (December 2, 2012). "USF fires Skip Holtz, sources say". Retrieved December 2, 2012.
  28. ^ McMurphy, Brett (December 13, 2012). "Skip Holtz headed to Louisiana Tech". Retrieved December 14, 2012.
  29. ^ "Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech - Game Recap - December 26, 2014 - ESPN". ESPN. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  30. ^ "Arkansas State vs. Louisiana Tech - Game Recap - December 19, 2015 - ESPN". ESPN. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  31. ^ Jeyarajah, Shehan (November 26, 2021). "Louisiana Tech fires Skip Holtz: Bulldogs opt for coaching change after nine years amid 3-8 season". CBS Sports. Retrieved November 26, 2021.
  32. ^ DiLullo, Mikey. "Former Louisiana Tech football coach Skip Holtz named coach of USFL's Birmingham Stallions". Tuscaloosa News. Retrieved January 20, 2022.
  33. ^ "Skip Holtz Profile". Football. East Carolina Official Athletic Site. 2008. Archived from the original on April 4, 2008. Retrieved March 11, 2008.
  34. ^ "Birth of the DSSH Golf Classic". About DSSH. Archived from the original on June 29, 2007.
  35. ^ Summers, Nathan (June 6, 2006). "First Drew Steele-Skip Holtz Golf Classic raises thousands". The Daily Reflector. Archived from the original on July 1, 2007. Retrieved March 9, 2008.

External links

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