Lou Holtz reflects on his own third-year magic at Notre Dame
Posted: 12/19/2012 at 2:01 pm
By: Rachel Terlep
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Truth Photo By Larry Tebo Lou Holtz at the press confrence.
Lou Holtz (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo)
The ‘86 team finished 5-6 and the ‘88 team finished 12-0 with a national championship, but Holtz said the main difference wasn’t the makeup of the roster. It was the same thing that happened to Brian Kelly this year and Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian and Dan Devine before him.
It was that third-year magic.
Holtz’s first year at Notre Dame in 1986 was mostly just adapting to the change from Minnesota to what he called the most “rabid” fan base in college football.
The distractions, the media exposure, being pulled in every different direction can be a lot to juggle, Holtz said Wednesday.
“There are some things you learn as you go (at Notre Dame),” Holtz said. “The demands, the expectations, the ‘Man, I got to be different, I got to be special.’ And you don’t. You just have to be yourself.”
But why the third year? Why the change from a losing record to a national championship with many of the same players? “Because by that time, you’re comfortable with it,” Holtz said. “The players have bought into your system. There’s a camaraderie or trust between the players and coaches.”
Kelly reflects the same sentiments. When asked about his evolution with the team over the past three years, Kelly said he also had to deal with the initial distractions.
“There are a lot of things that pull you away from the primary reason why you want to be head coach of Notre Dame, and that is graduate your players and play for a national championship,” Kelly said Monday. “Now, to do that you have to have the pulse of your football team and you’ve got to have relationships with your players.
“If you’re already going around the country doing other things other than working with your football team, it’s hard to have the pulse of your team.”
Even Holtz’s adjustments between 1987 and 1988 mirror many of Kelly’s this season: A mobile quarterback, position shifts, a strong team chemistry with its defensive coordinator.
“I remember talking to the football team in the spring of ‘88. By that time I had come to the realization that you’re expected to win every single game,” Holtz said. “And if you have that expectation and the tradition and history and excellence ... I think that’s predominately why things happen.”
Don’t believe Dr. Lou?
Leahy came to Notre Dame in 1941 and won the title in 1943. Parseghian arrived in 1964, won the title in 1966.
Devine came in 1975, won in 1977. Holtz arrived in 1986, brought home the title in 1988.
Now Kelly — who was hired by Notre Dame in 2010 — has a chance to bring home the crystal ball against Alabama in January.
“Once you win a national championship at Notre Dame, everything changes,” Holtz said. “Your life will never be the same.”