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View from the 'ville
Thursday, August 24, 2006

By Al Myatt

'Skip' reveals all on the Bonesville 'Hot Seat'

All rights reserved.

East Carolina football coach Skip Holtz is just nine days away from the official start of his second season with the Pirates. The likeable son of a coaching legend has created optimism for the program's return to prominence.

Skip Holtz

(file photo by
Chris Cribari)

Holtz appears to be on top of the rebuilding process with a capable staff which has attracted some talented players in the relatively short span that they've been recruiting to the ECU program.

You may have heard Holtz on the Pirate Club banquet circuit this spring talking about the demanding slate ECU faces in 2006.

"It's got me sleeping like a baby," he said of the schedule. "I wake up every two hours and cry."

Even though eight of the Pirates' opponents went to bowls last season, there's talk of ECU making its first bowl trip since 2001.

Who is the man at the controls of the Pirates' much-anticipated resurgence? We wanted to find out more about him personally and figured he would be ready to tackle some non-football related questions after 20 arduous days of preseason camp.

It was sort of like the Budweiser Hot Seat, which you may have seen on ESPN ... well, minus the brew — and without the hot seat.

Q: How did you get the nickname, Skip?

A: I was Skip before I came home from the hospital (after being born, March 12, 1964, in Willimantic, Connecticut). I'm Louis Leo Holtz, after my dad, but he didn't want a 'Junior.' We call my oldest son (LLH, III), Trey.

Q: Coach, how did you meet your wife (the former Jennifer Fitzgerald of Port Charlotte, FL)?

A: At Florida State, she worked in the football office for Bobby Bowden. When I went to Florida State to be a graduate assistant (in 1987) she was one of the first people that I met. Coach Bowden's secretary introduced the two of us. The rest is history. I've chased her around ever since.

Q: How did you propose to her?

A: I proposed when we were walking on the beach. I had written it in the sand.

Q: If ESPN was doing a one-play highlight of your college career (at Notre Dame), what would it be?

A: Well, unfortunately it would probably be roughing the kicker at Southern Cal (laugh). It would not be a highlight. It would be a negative. I did some things good but that was probably the thing I did that impacted the game the most. We ended up winning the game, but it wasn't pretty. (laugh)

Q: What is the biggest coaching mistake you've ever gotten away with?

A: I made so many of 'em my first year, I told the AD (Lew Perkins at UConn) he should fire me. As a young head coach, I made a lot of mistakes in my first year.

Note: Holtz was at UConn for five seasons. The Huskies program was in the Division I-AA Top 25 the last four of those.

Q: Would you want to see South Carolina (where Holtz was an assistant from 1999 to 2003) on future East Carolina football schedules?

A: If Terry Holland (ECU AD) puts it on there.

Q: What is your favorite sport other than football?

A: It would have to be basketball.

Q: What is your favorite pro sports team?

A: I follow players, not teams.

Q: Who is the lowest rated recruit you coached who became a star?

A: Lake Dawson, who was a receiver at Notre Dame.

Q: Gatorade or Powerade?

A: Gatorade.

Q: Team USA will win the world basketball championship, true or false?

A: True.

Q: Did you ever meet or have interaction with Keith LeClair (former ECU baseball coach who died of Lou Gehrig's disease last month)?

A: Yes. I went hunting with Coach LeClair when I was at South Carolina. I had an opportunity to visit with him a number of times my first year here.

Q: What will be your lasting memory of Coach LeClair?

A: I have two memories of him, Great guy when we went to go hunting I thought the world of him. We really got along well. And I have the memory of him as a competitor, a fighter, a Christian in his chair with the battles that he went through every day.

Q: Did your dad (Louis Leo Holtz, Sr.) mold you as a coach?

A: Yes, but a lot of people molded me as a coach. I say that because Bobby Bowden molded me as a coach. Earl Bruce (former Ohio State coach) molded me as a coach. We're all who we are because of our upbringing and experiences in life.

Q: What was the worst trouble you were ever in as a kid with your dad?

A: I regularly got my backside worn out. (laugh) Never arrested or anything like that. I was always pushing the edge as a little kid.

Q: Favorite memory from when your dad coached N.C. State?

A: Being around the players — the Buckey boys (Dave and Don), Stan Fritts, Willie Burden, Johnny Evans ... being around those guys. I was very impressionable at eight to 12 years old.

Q: What came to mind if someone said "East Carolina" before you became the Pirates coach?

A: Overachievers. It was like you always heard of them beating a Miami or an N.C. State. There have been a lot of great wins in this university's history. When I was an outsider, that's when you heard about 'em — when they would pull that big upset.

Q: What is your favorite beach?

A: Litchfield, South Carolina.

Q: What's your favorite vacation?

A: Anywhere with my family.

Q: Where's your favorite place to watch TV?

A: In my chair at the house.

Q: What kind of TV do you have, big screen or plasma or anything like that?

A: I don't know what it is. It's a flat screen.

Q: What is your favorite program?

A: Sports and movies. That's all I watch. I don't watch regular TV very often. I watch ESPN or one of the movie channels.

Q: Is there a movie star that you pay to see on a consistent basis?

A: No.

Q: Favorite recent movie?

A: I don't go to many. The one I enjoyed as much as anything was taking the kids to "Cars."

Q: Have you read "Wins, Losses and Lessons?" (Lou Holtz's new book)

A: No.

Q: What was the best moment in preseason camp this year?

A: The best moment was the talent show (Tuesday night) and watching this team come together and laugh.

Q: What was the best performance in the talent show?

A: C.J. Wilson (freshman defensive lineman) on the keyboard.

Q: Will you play a back-up quarterback at Navy (ECU's season opener on Sept. 2)?

A: Depending upon the situation.

Q: Who cuts your hair?

A: I-Yang. (Pronounced E-young)

Q: What's the longest your hair has ever been?

A: Not long.

Q: Can you outrun Drew Steele?

A: I hope.

Q: Can you outrun Mike Steele?

A: Yes. (laugh)

Q: What do you drive?

A: A Nissan Armada.

Q: Have you ever been lost in Greenville?

A: No, not yet.

Q: What do you listen to in your Armada?

A: I listen to anything. I don't know what's in the CD now but if you pulled 'em all out, you'd go, 'Wow, there must be five people that listen to this.' I think there's a Garth Brooks in there. I think there's a little Top 20 thing my sister had sent me. I've got a mix of music in there.

Q: Who mows your lawn?

A: I don't do it all the time but I like to. I'll say I do.

Q: What is your least favorite household chore?

A: I love working in the yard. I'm not big on the inside chores.

Q: What is your worst recruiting faux pas?

A: My first year as a fulltime coach (1989), I had Earl Bruce (then coach at Colorado State) with me on a recruiting trip in Los Angeles and I got in a car accident. (laugh) I was driving.

Q: Who in college coaching do you admire the most?

A: Right now it would be Bobby Bowden.

Q: Who do you pay the most attention to, Lee Corso or Kirk Herbstreit (ESPN college football commentators)?

A: Oooh. I may take the fifth. I don't want to get beat up by the other one. (laugh)

Q: Choose a golf playing partner from your coaching staff, if you're playing for money.

A: I got to be careful here. I don't know who can beat who. Greg Hudson (defensive coordinator).

Q: Who is the best cook among your coaches?

A: My money would be on ... Junior Smith (running backs coach).

Q: Most underrated restaurant in Greenville?

A: Finilli's.

Q: Can you beat Terry Holland in a game of Horse? (The seat may have gotten a little warmer on that one)

A: I'd say 'yes.' I probably should say 'no.' (laugh) He's my boss. You can put 'yes.'

Q: Any memories of Navy as a player?

A: They played hard. They played hard.

Q: Scariest Navy player, currently?

A: I'd say the fullback. That's Adam Ballard. He's a bull.

Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.

Dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 12:30:36 AM


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