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Get to Know a Coaching Candidate: Skip Holtz

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Skip Holtz, the son of coaching and broadcasting "legend" Lou Holtz, is another name that has been on the radar screen for the Kansas job even prior to Mark Mangino's departure.  His past connections to Lew Perkins and Connecticut were an obvious tie as Lew prepares to make his first big hire as the Kansas Athletic Director.

Two years ago Holtz blew up a bit as a coaching candidate as his East Carolina squad upset #17 Virgina Tech and #8 ranked West Virginia early in the season.  Those victories placed the Pirates in the top 25 and the season would finish a success as East Carolina would win the Conference USA title.

Now a full season removed East Carolina has continued that success but the buzz around Holtz seems to have subsided a bit.  Still he appears to be a very real possibility for the Jayhawks and rumors of an impending interview are out there. 

So who is Skip Holtz?  I'm sure you could take an educated stab at his background, but let's get to know the candidate a little better.

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 heights expected of 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 get into 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 a little 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, current Kansas athletic director, offered him the job 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 be successful during it's tenure in 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.

From there Holtz stepped into his current role at East Carolina where he has brought unprecedented success to the program.  A 38-26 overall record in 5 seasons with the Pirates. 4 Bowl appearances in five seasons and two first place finishes have been a big boost to the program and a major boost to the coaching stock of Holtz. 

There's no doubt that Holtz has been successful, he's also coached under some legends and with some great programs.  However, a majority of his career is spent on the East Coast.  What are his connections to the Midwest?  What would his staff makeup look like?  The biggest thing with Holtz is the question marks that surround him, the unknowns.  Many of the other candidates have pretty clear cut plusses and minuses.  Holtz has proven successful which is obviously a big plus but other than that there isn't a lot that says, "this guy is perfect for Kansas."

The positive thing here is that Lew has worked with Holtz before, he knows his strengths, weaknesses and as an Athletic Director who makes these decisions Lew would certainly be well informed on Holtz if he determines he is the man for the job.  If this is the hire, it means Perkins is saying that he basically believes in Holtz in a big way.  He believes he's the guy to take Kansas to the next level just like he did UConn. Again, this isn't a "homerun" but it certainly on paper looks like a pretty good hire with some longterm stability potential.