Now this next name is someone that I'm not sure is even on the list, but he was on our list last time. And given the changes in the college football landscape, I can't help but think that he might see the opportunity at Kansas as a way off the sinking ship that is Big East football. Plus he is a name that was involved last time so it's not outlandish to think that he might reach out and give this job a look.
Skip Holtz, the son of coaching and broadcasting "legend" Lou Holtz, was a coach on the Lew Perkins radar last time around. Speculation is that Lew wanted to go a different direction and not hire "his guy" for fear of perception after running Mangino out of town.
Unfortunately that might have been the best call at the end of the day but Lew chose Turner Gill and at this point I don't look back on much of what Lew did fondly. Don't point to an Orange Bowl or a National Championship because Bill Self and Mark Mangino both accomplished that. Lew changed our font, sued some people and yes he raised a lot of money, but we failed to leverage that 2007-2008 year as well as we could have and now we're pretty much back to square one.
Stepping off my anti-Lew soapbox, let's get back to Skip Holtz. Again, not sure where or if he fits in the conversation at this point but I was watching USF v WVU last night and I remember there being some definite excitement at the prospect of Holtz in 2009. Besides, his dad was one of the biggest KU supporters during the 2007 season and I'd love to have him back on our side.Skip obviously was born into and raised in a coaching family as his father Lou Holtz had an extremely successful career and is basically the last coach at Notre Dame to reach the lofty expectations set forth by that program.
Skip's playing career has a bit of the "Rudy" story to it. As a high school player in Fayettville Arkansas where his father coached the Razorbacks, Holtz attempted to apply for admission at Notre Dame. Unable to gain acceptance he was encouraged by then coach Gerry Faust to attend nearby Holy Cross for two years and then reapply to Notre Dame.
After two years at Holy Cross Holtz did transfer to Notre Dame where he planned to walk on with Faust. Faust resigned, Lou Holtz took the job and that made the walk on process just a tad bit simpler for the younger Holtz.
After a short playing career Holtz was able to catch on as a graduate assistant under Bobby Bowden at Florida State. After two seasons with the Seminoles Holtz accepted a position as wide receivers coach at Colorado State where he spent one season before returning to his father's staff at Notre Dame.
He spent two seasons as the receivers coach at Notre Dame before moving into the role of offensive coordinator in 1992. Working together with his father, Holtz and Notre Dame won 40 games, lost only 8 and had the third best offense in college football during the '91 season.
In 1994 Holtz had his first opportunity to take a head job as Lew Perkins offered him the post at Connecticut. In five seasons with the Huskies Holtz amassed a record of 34-23 and led the Huskies to their first Division 1-AA playoff appearance. His final season with the Huskies was also their final season in Division 1-AA as Holtz is credited with helping lead the program into the division 1A ranks.
Holtz would leave Connecticut prior to that transition to rejoin his father who had taken a head position at South Carolina at the start of the '99 season. Holtz would fill the role of offensive coordinator with the Gamecocks. The Holtz combination would again succeed during their tenure at South Carolina, most notably during the 2000 and 2001 seasons in which they finished in the top 25 both times. After the 2003 season however, Holtz was demoted to QB coach and a season later with the retirement of his father and hiring of Steve Spurrier, Holtz was not retained.
At that point Holtz took a step back to a smaller school, but in a head coaching capacity at East Carolina. It was here where Holtz again would raise some eyebrows as a head coaching candidate at a major school as he was able to bring unprecedented success to the East Carolina program. A 38-26 overall record in 5 seasons with the Pirates. 4 Bowl appearances in five seasons and two first place finishes in the conference provided a big boost to the program and a major boost to the coaching stock of Holtz.
That's when he interviewed for the Kansas job in 2009 and that's when we passed on him for Turner Gill. You be the judge.
Oddly enough Holtz would land at South Florida after that job opened up for a curiously similar reason that the Kansas job had opened up. In fact Jim Leavitt and Mark Mangino were both connected along with Mike Leach through common stops in their coaching career. We've since learned more about all three situations but at the time it seemed that the "in" thing to do was to fire your coach for abuse. Oddly enough, none of those programs are better off, Karma?
In his first season with South Florida, Holtz would finish the season with an 8-5 record while winning the Meineke Car Care Bowl. He would finish 5th in the Big East at 3-4 which isn't a huge endorsement but South Florida had looked like a team on a bit of a slide as Leavitt's time drew to a close. This year Holtz and the Bulls have struggled finishing the season last night at 5-7. The Bulls won just one game in the Big East but they did knock off a decent Notre Dame team to open the season.
In all reality Holtz might have been a more attractive candidate two years ago, but to some extent you have to look past the recent run because he does have a more extensive track record. Yes with Turner Gill, Dave Doeren or other coaches with very limited experience it's easy to point to recent failure or success as an indicator but with Holtz it's probably important to consider the full body of work.
Again, hard to say if this is an option that Sheahon Zenger will explore, but as more and more jobs open up I think we're going to have to keep a very open mind about where we end up with this thing. Kansas football isn't about to land the hot name coach of the moment because the competition is just to steep this year and we're in a tough spot. But all that matters to me is that we find someone that has us fighting and competing in every game.