Head Football Coach Lou Holtz
Philosophies on Notre Dame
- On Beginning His Tenth Year:
"It is hard to believe that I am going to be starting my tenth year here at Notre Dame. When I realize that some students presently in high school hadn't even started to school when I was hired here, it makes me feel ancient. When I arrived at Notre Dame, I never expected to be here this long, nor did I expect the job to be as demanding as it is. I also never expected it to be as rewarding and fulfilling as is has been."
- The Notre Dame Spirit:
"When I was on the outside, you heard about the spirit of Notre Dame, but you didn't believe it. I came here and I didn't necessarily believe it. But then I made an interesting observation. If you don't believe in it, you'll never feel it. So I made up my mind I was going to believe in the spirit. And when you believe in it, you feel it. Belief is having the faith when there is no proof. If someone can give you proof, that's not faith, that's facts. I made up my mind and called on our players to do it. There are certain things that are just going to happen, and you have to believe. I believe in the Notre Dame spirit. In 1988 after the Pittsburgh game, I told the players they would have to do certain things if we were going to have a chance to beat Miami the next week. One of those things was to believe in the Notre Dame spirit. If they didn't do that, we didn't have a chance. That was our whole approach to the game. I'm convinced it won the game for us."
"Anybody can win if they make football their top priority. What makes this place unique is we're expected to win and football is the top priority just three hours a day. If a player has a bad practice at most schools, you assume he had a fight with his girlfriend. Here, it's more likely he didn't get to bed the last two nights because he was studying for an exam."
- The Difference:
"The unique thing about Notre Dame is they expect you to win. Now, sometimes that makes for more of a challenge than you need. But there are a lot of schools that have worked for years trying to build up that attitude and that kind of tradition."
"I don't think there's pressure at Notre Dame. What I feel is an awesome responsibility because of what has gone on in the past. Because of what the Rocknes, the Leahys, the Parseghians have accomplished, you feel a responsibility to keep up that tradition. But I wouldn't call it pressure. My idea of pressure is a guy whose wife is eight months pregnant, has four kids at home, he's out of a job and can't make the payments. That's pressure."
- The Best Job:
"It seemed like every time the job opened at Notre Dame, I was always wishing inside they would call me. I'd be on the road and call my wife and ask, 'Did anybody call?' It's the only place in America I ever felt that way about. I always thought it was the best job in the country because of what it stood for in values and ethics."
- The Expectations:
"The expectations here at Notre Dame can change a little bit as you go along. When I first started, everybody said they just wanted us to be competitive. That first season in 1986 we went 5-6 and lost five games by a total of 14 points. But people said, 'No, when we said competitive, we meant we want you to win.' So the next year we went 8-4 and played in a New Year's Day bowl. But they said, 'No, when we said we want you to win, we meant win them all.' So the next year we did win them all. We went 12-0 and won the national championship. But they said, 'No, you don't understand, we meant we want you to win big.' That's the way it goes at Notre Dame."
- His Early Exposure to Notre Dame:
"I went to St. Aloysius grade school, and we were taught by the Sisters of Notre Dame. At lunch, at recess and at dismissal, we marched out to the Notre Dame Victory March. They played it on the juke box in the foyer of the school. Those were my formative years, and those were the years-'46 to '50-when Notre Dame never lost a game. The impressions I formed about Notre Dame came about because the people I respected so much-my mother, my father, my grandparents, my other relatives-held Notre Dame in such high esteem."
- The Alumni:
"When I go out to speak, the alumni want to know when we're going to win the national championship again. Sometimes fans here have a tendency to look at only the good things and the good athletes and no one is really worried about the problems. Fans don't think the Notre Dame football team has any problems. They think if we go out and put on the helmets and the uniforms that everything is going to change and any problems we have are going to dissipate. That isn't going to be true. But I understand alumni. They aren't interested in how rocky the sea is. They are interested in seeing the ship come in. Our fans expect a minor miracle every Saturday and a major one every now and then."
- The Student Body:
"When students at Notre Dame pay their tuition, they believe that entitles them to one national championship during their four years here."
- The Magnitude of the Job:
"I had no idea of the magnitude of the job at Notre Dame. I've changed jobs since I've been here, without even moving my family or moving my desk. The job today is far different than the one I took over nine years ago. I was warned about certain things: After you reach a certain point the expectations are unrealistic, number one, and number two, Notre Dame is judged by different standards than other schools by the media and the public. I didn't realize that, but I wouldn't want it any other way. I'm better equipped to handle Notre Dame's situation in the future because now I understand things. There were times I felt we weren't being treated fairly. But I look back on it and we were, and I'm glad we were treated that way. There is a higher standard for Notre Dame and we should take that as a compliment."
"The football coach at Notre Dame is no more important than an English professor or chemistry professor, and that's the way it should be."
"We operate at a disadvantage when we don't redshirt across the board and everyone else does. There's no doubt it would be in the best interests of the football team if we did redshirt our entire freshman class. But it wouldn't necessarily be in the best interests of the University or the athletes. I understand why Notre Dame does it the way it does. If a student here is behind after his freshman year, he goes to summer school, to stay even with his class. It's that way every year, and that's why almost everyone, including football players, graduates in four years. The philosophy here is that the Notre Dame academic experience is a four-year experience, and that football should fall into that time frame, too."