Louis Leo "Skip" Holtz, Jr. (born March 12, 1964) is an American football coach who is the current head coach at Louisiana Tech University. He was head coach at South Florida from 2010 to 2012 before being released. Prior to 2010, Holtz served as the head coach of the East Carolina University football team. Additionally, Holtz was the head coach of the Connecticut Huskies football team between 1994 and 1998 and an assistant head coach for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks between 1998 and 2004.
Skip's father, Lou Holtz, is an acclaimed former head football coach and worked as a commentator on the television channel ESPN. Due to his father's career as a collegiate football coach, Skip was exposed to football from an early age. At the time of Skip's birth, Lou was a football assistant for the Connecticut Huskies. Skip attended Fayetteville High School in Arkansas and played on the school's football team as the team's quarterback while his father was the head coach at the University of Arkansas. After graduating from Fayetteville High School, Skip attended Holy Cross College for two years. He then transferred to Notre Dame, where he earned a bachelor's degree in business management. While at Notre Dame, he lettered in football as a special teams member and backup wide receiver.
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.
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.
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."
Upon arriving at Florida State in 1987, he became the graduate assistant coach. He met his future wife, Jennifer, in Coach Bowden's office while in Tallahassee. He left after two years to become the wide receivers coach at Colorado State University under legendary coach Earle Bruce. After one season, he went back to Notre Dame to coach under his father.
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." 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." 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.
University of Connecticut
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. 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." 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...." 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. In the next round of the playoffs, the Huskies lost to the 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.
University of South Carolina
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. 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 Dave Tanner rebutted by saying, "There are no formal or informal guarantees at him," and "It's always helpful to have potential succession in a staff."
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. On November 22, 2004, one season after Skip's demotion, Lou Holtz announced he was retiring as head coach of South Carolina. The next day, South Carolina announced Steve Spurrier as the next head football coach. 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.
East Carolina University
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. 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. 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 Galleryfurniture.com Bowl against Texas Tech. 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 Papajohns.com Bowl, losing 24–7. Despite the bowl loss, the 2006 season was ECU's first winning season since 2000, and the Papajohns.com Bowl was the Pirates' first bowl game since 2001.
In 2007, Holtz's team won eight games, including wins over intrastate rival North Carolina and going 3–2, verses Conference USA East opponents. Finishing second in the East Division, Holtz team was invited to the Hawai'i Bowl to play #24 Boise State University. East Carolina won the bowl game 41–38. This was the first bowl victory since the 2000 Galleryfurniture.com Bowl verses 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.
University of 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. A press conference to introduce Holtz to the community was held for January 15, 2010. When someone in the crowd called out, "Beat Florida!", Holtz replied, "That's why I'm here!" 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.
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 would lead 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 theBulls 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.
Louisiana Tech University
On December 13, 2012, Holtz accepted an offer to become the head coach for the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. 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. In 2015, the Bulldogs continued their success finishing 9–4 and winning the New Orleans Bowl over Arkansas State, 47–28.
Holtz and his wife Jennifer Fitzgerald, whom he met while he was working at Florida State, have two sons and a daughter. Outside of the football team, Holtz is deeply involved with an annual 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. The Drew Steele-Skip Holtz Golf Classic benefits citizens of Pitt County with special needs.
Holtz has participated in 17 postseason games in his coaching career. Nine games occurred while he was head coach and eight when he was an assistant coach. Of the nine games where he was the head coach, seven 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 currently 4–3.
|Bowl year||Bowl game||Participants||Result||Rank|
|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||Hawai'i Bowl||East Carolina vs. Boise State||W 41–38|
|2006||Papajohns.com 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
|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
|Connecticut Huskies (Yankee Conference) (1994–1996)|
|1994||Connecticut||4–7||4–4||3rd (New England)|
|1995||Connecticut||8–3||5–3||2nd (New England)|
|1996||Connecticut||5–6||3–5||4th (New England)|
|Connecticut Huskies (Atlantic 10 Conference) (1997–1998)|
|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|
|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 PapaJohns.com|
|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|
|South Florida Bulls (Big East Conference) (2010–2012)|
|2010||South Florida||8–5||3–4||T–5th||W Meineke Car Care|
|Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (Conference USA) (2013–present)|
|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|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title|
|†Indicates Bowl Coalition, Bowl Alliance, BCS, or CFP / New Years' Six bowl.|
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.