Big East Coach Profile: Skip Holtz, South Florida

By Joe Giglio

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be profiling the coaches around the Big East. Today is look at South Florida head coach Skip Holtz.

The facts: Lou Holtz’s son is attempting to continue the family coaching tradition — while creating a fresh one — at South Florida. The Tampa based school is in the process of trying to become a serious Big East contender under his watch. The program regressed in 2011 — 5-7 overall, 1-6 in the mediocre Big East — leading to questions about the job security of the head coach past this upcoming season.

The contract: Holtz signed a five-year, $9.1 million deal early in 2010. He has a clause in his contract that will pay a $100,000 bonus for winning a Big East title.

The background: The football lifer — the son of Lou Holtz would be — actually began the coaching portion of his career as a graduate assistant for Bobby Bowden at Florida State. From there, he joined the coaching staff at Notre Dame as a wide receivers coach before transitioning to offensive coordinator. The success of the Notre Dame offense under his watch led to an offer from UConn to lead their program as a head man. Holtz accepted, planning to help the school transition from a 1-AA program to 1-A. After five years, he resigned and joined the new staff at South Carolina — headed by his father. Early returns brought South Carolina back to prominence, but when the losing seasons began, Skip was demoted from his offensive coordinator position to quarterbacks coach. Upon the firing of Lou Holtz, new coach Steve Spurrier only retained three members of the previous staff — Skip not among them. On December 3, 2004, Holtz was announced as the 19th head football coach in East Carolina history. He took over a dead program — 3-22 in their previous 25 games — and made them winners by 2006.

The record: 85-62 overall

1994: 4-7 overall, 4-4 conference
1995: 8-6 overall, 5-3 conference
1996: 5-6 overall, 3-5 conference
*UConn moved from the Yankee Conference to the Atlantic-10 prior to the ‘97 season
1997: 7-4 overall, 4-4 conference
1998: 10-3 overall, 6-2 conference, lost Division 1-AA Quarterfinals

East Carolina
2005: 5-6 overall, 4-4 conference
2006: 7-6 overall, 5-3 conference, lost Bowl
2007: 8-5 overall, 6-2 conference, won Hawaii Bowl
2008: 9-5 overall, 6-2 conference, lost Liberty Bowl
2009: 9-5 overall, 7-1 conference, lost Liberty Bowl

South Florida
2010: 8-5 overall, 3-4 conference, won Meineke Car Care Bowl
2011: 5-7 overall, 1-6 conference

The players: Holtz has overseen a number of players drafted into the NFL under his head coaching watch, including: Linval Joseph, Davon Drew, Chris Johnson, Guy Whimper, Aundrae Allison, Jacquian Williams, Mistral Raymond, and Terrell McClain.

The future: As noted earlier, Holtz is at a crossroads in South Florida. If he doesn’t get back to a bowl game soon, his time could be up. The Big East is set to welcome in new teams, go in a different direction, and attempt to become more competitive on the national stage. Holtz has a track record of turning around poor programs. Time will tell if he has the chance to right his own ship.

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