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Head Football Coach Lou Holtz

The Minnesota Years

At Minnesota, Holtz breathed new life into a Gopher program that had combined for a 4-18 record in the two previous seasons before he arrived. He took over a Minnesota team that had lost 17 straight Big Ten Conference games-and pumped renewed enthusiasm into it.

The Golden Gophers' spring game prior to Holtz's initial season in Minneapolis drew 42,000 fans. Their new coach rewarded that confidence by taking a 1-10 team that gave up 518 points the previous year and producing a respectable 4-7 campaign in '84. Holtz earned United Press International's national coach-of-the-week honors after visiting Minnesota pinned a 17-14 defeat on a Wisconsin team that went on to finish 7-4-1 and play in the Hall of Fame Bowl. The final game of that '84 season saw the Gophers prevail 23-17 over an Iowa team that finished 8-4-1 after a victory over Texas in the Freedom Bowl.

In '85, Holtz did even better by coaching Minnesota to a 5-1 start, the only loss a 13-7 squeaker to eventual national champion Oklahoma. The Gophers won their first three Big Ten games over Purdue, Northwestern and Indiana and stood 20th in the Associated Press and United Press International polls after the first six weeks of the season. Minnesota eventually finished 6-5, its first winning season since '81, and defeated Clemson in the Independence Bowl played after Holtz left for South Bend.