Dec 12, 2006

The Passion of Lou Holtz

Transcript of an ND football team meeting (Spring 1988) Three weeks ago when I set up this meeting, I knew we would have a lot to talk about, and I have really looked forward to this meeting. First of all, I want to congratulate you on your success in the winter program in the weight room. The things I hear about you are outstanding, and when I have been there I have been impressed. Unfortunately, not everyone falls into this category. However, the overwhelming majority of you do, and for that I congratulate you on your commitment to greatness. Two days ago I talked to Marion Campbell of the Atlanta Falcons. Coach Fazio went down and visited with them yesterday. Today he called me and said he is going to accept a job with the Atlanta Falcons. He will get a substantial raise. I hate to see him go. He is an outstanding coach and a fine, fine individual. Joe Yonto will leave to take a position in the Athletic Department. He will be working with Dick Rosenthal. He had a choice whether he wished to go into administration or remain in coaching. He decided to accept the position in administration. The defensive coordinator, in all probability, will be Barry Alvarez. He has coached inside linebackers previously, and I think will be a fine coordinator. I promise you I/we will strengthen our staff. A year ago at this time Mike Stock left to go to the Bengals, and Kurt Schottenheimer went with the Cleveland Browns. We strengthened our staff when we brought in what I think is an outstanding football coach in Jim Strong. That sucker is a winner - make no mistake about it. Then we went out and hired Barry Alvarez, who is also an outstanding coach. Rest assured, we will hire the best coaches in America, and we’ll hire them rapidly. It’s going to be revealed today that Notre Dame had the best recruiting year in the country by far. I say that is nonsense. We have some fine athletes coming in despite the fact that we had only 23 scholarships to offer. Everybody else signs 30, redshirts their entire freshman class, and then drop 55 out of their football program. At Notre Dame we can sign approximately 24 a year. On paper we had a good year. However, I want to tell you this - we were not successful in the state of Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. The best football player in the state of Ohio belonged here at Notre Dame. I’ve never seen a guy who belonged at Notre Dame more than he did. He writes me a letter: “Dear Coach, this is a very difficult letter to write. How does one say ‘no’ to Notre Dame? Notre Dame is a great university - high academics, high standards, outstanding football program. Everything is right. At least I thought so until I visited. I did not feel comfortable around the athletes. I’m not sure the total commitment to excellence is there.” He goes on to say some other things which aren’t relevant. If we lose to Penn State in recruiting, you lose. The entire university loses. There isn’t any reason for this university to ever lose a prospect to Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Pittsburgh or any other school. When we get them on this campus, there’s no way in this world they should do anything but be impressed with the athletes we have here. There are gonna be some changes, but I can assure you they are going to be positive changes. I want you to pay attention to this - we are going to practice strict loyalty to one another. We are going to be loyal to the University of Notre Dame, the administration, coaches and teammates. We are not going to make a negative comment about anybody on this football team, unless it is said in my office. We are not going to criticize another player. If I hear a guy make a negative comment during a football game on the sideline, you’re going to the locker room. We can not be a close knit football team without showing respect and concern for each other. This loyalty will extend to the coaches as well. You aren’t going to bitch about them; you aren’t going to moan about them; you aren’t going to talk about them among yourselves. By the same token, the coaches aren’t going to say a negative thing about you. The coaches aren’t going to deride you, ridicule you, or question your courage. The coaches will show you how to be the best football players possible. They will tell you what you are doing wrong and in what areas you need to improve. If you have a problem with someone, get it straight. Remember, if you can’t say something good about somebody, then don’t say anything. This is a good philosophy to practice the rest of your life. I don’t know if any of you saw a TV program on an educational TV station, but the topic was, “Why do men die for their country?” They examined the Marines, French Foreign Legion and the British Commandos. First conclusion they arrived at was that discipline is very important. Why do the military conduct their close order drill, although it carries no military significance whatsoever? Because it stresses discipline. No organization or team can function without discipline. The second reason they examined was the history of the regiment. They talked about the great tradition of the regiment. They highlighted the success of the regiment, particularly those that were accomplished against overwhelming odds. However, the most important reason why men died for their country was their love for their fellow man. They interviewed a soldier who relayed a most revealing story. He was wounded in combat and was convalescing in the hospital when he discovered that his fellow soldiers were going on a dangerous mission. He escaped from the hospital and went on the mission with them. Then while participating in the invasion, he was wounded once again. When they interviewed him he said “You work with people and you live with them, and you soon realize that your survival depends upon one another.” Whether it be a military battle or Notre Dame football, you can only enjoy success when we realize that we must be able to count on one another. It is important that I express my thoughts about this university - which you may or may not agree with. This school was founded by Father Sorin in 1842. It was founded as a tribute to Our Lady on the Dome. I believe the overwhelming majority of our football team believes in Jesus Christ. We may have some whose religious beliefs are such that they do not recognize Jesus Christ. That’s fine also. I don’t wish to change anybody’s religion or philosophy. This school was built as a tribute to the Blessed Virgin, the mother of Jesus Christ. I firmly believe that if you really look at this school, you realize it has been blessed. The people who attend this school are blessed. Father Sorin said it best in 1842, “I’ve raised Our Lady aloft so that men will know without asking, why we have succeeded here. All they have to do is look high on the Golden Dome and they’ll find the answer.” When we do what is right, we bring glory and honor to Notre Dame. When we win in football, we help this university. To reach your potential, you must learn to love this university. Put your faith, confidence and belief in Jesus. That is what this university is all about. It’s your decision, but I firmly believe that Our Lady on the Dome will watch out for you. Spend some time at the Grotto, and you’ll discover that this school is special. There is a special mystique about it. You are special for being here, a student at Notre Dame. There will be no drinking during the season. We had this rule last year. There may have been violations, but rest assured that if they occur this year, we will find out. Our coaches will frequent the favorite hangouts. If you can’t control yourself or exercise self-discipline, you aren’t going to be successful anyway. You told me you want to win, and I believe you. The seniors have provided great leadership thus far. I watched you work out and saw a lot of positive things. To get the maximum benefit from our winter program, we must eat breakfast. To ensure this happens, we will eat breakfast between 7:00 am and 9:15 am. Everybody will eat breakfast. It will be checked. You may eat in South Dining Hall or the North Dining Hall. Concerning the length of our practices - I checked with Ara Parseghian and many other coaches who have enjoyed success. One thing they all had in common was that they practiced 2 1/2 hours and met 1 1/2 hours a day. This was a typical day for Notre Dame when Ara Parseghian coached; at 3:30 pm they were on the field. They practiced until 6:00 pm. They arrived at the training table at 6:30 pm. At 7:30 pm they had a 1 1/2 hour meeting every day. This meant they spent approximately four hours on football daily. Most schools, including Arkansas, Michigan and most of our opponents meet during lunch. After lunch they would go to class. At 2:30 pm we would meet for an hour. We would practice from 3:30 to 6:00 pm. At 6:30 we would eat and meet once again from 7:30 to 8:30 pm. At 8:30 pm we would have study hall until 10:30 pm. In fairness to you, we do not meet at night so you can fulfill your primary purpose for attending college and that is to get an education. However, the amount of practice time we need is 2 1/2 hours, including kicking game. We must meet an additional one hour a day. Some people have complained we practice too long. There is no other way to be successful. Your social life must be non-existent during the season. In addition, our practices must be more productive and our retention greater. We cannot waste any time on the field, and we must insist upon improvement. I don’t believe we made the improvement as a football team last year that we have to make. We need to improve the courtesy we extend to people. I think it is beneficial to look people in the eye and give them a firm handshake. Use the words “Yes, sir - no, sir - yes, ma’am, no ma’am.” I don’t know if anything is more important to our success than self-discipline. We have scientists that can go into space and scientists that can go to the depth of the ocean. It’s ironic that we can conquer space, we can conquer the ocean, but many times we cannot conquer ourselves. Until we learn self-discipline we cannot control our own destiny. Self discipline is the greatest asset an individual can possess. I think perseverance will be an important part of our success this year. We must overcome all adversity. The only reason for a person to exist is to be the best they can be. If you don’t have any desire to be the best that you can be in every single phase of your life, you need to check your values. This attitude will develop perseverance. You shouldn’t do the things that simply give you physical pleasure. When you do things for the sole enjoyment of self-satisfaction, you’ll forget about it in two days and want to do it all over again. There are millions of people that live and die with Notre Dame football. There are an awful lot of Catholics and non-Catholics, Irishmen and non-Irishmen, successful and less-fortunate people that follow the University of Notre Dame - and you should feel a sense of obligation to them. They follow Notre Dame football because it is synonymous with success. I really look forward to this season and working with you. We are going to be positive, and we are going to have fun in what we do. I want you to pay very close attention to what I am going to say, because I don’t want any misunderstandings about how I feel. I’m here to win football games for the University of Notre Dame. Not some of our games, and not most of our games; I’m here to win ALL of our games. Every doggone one of them! We aren’t here to come close. We are here to win every single football game we ever play at the University of Notre Dame from this point forward. I want you to be the best, the very best, in all areas of your life. I want you to be the best student that you can be; I want you to be the best person you can be; and I want you to be the best football player you can be. The only reason a person should exist is to be the best he can. To play at Notre Dame is to seek perfection. I’m basically a perfectionist. I’ve heard all the reasons why you can’t reach perfection. I want to tell you something. We are either going to reach it, or we’re going to come so close that the average person won’t know the difference. To strive for perfection means you’ve got to be totally dedicated. It can’t be an occasional thing - it’s got to be a total dedication in everything that you do. If you don’t have total dedication to perfection in your life, then I believe your attitude toward life is flawed. Perfection at Notre Dame will not only be demanded, it will be expected. I don’t ever expect to lose another football game as long as I’m at Notre Dame, and I sure don’t expect to lose one this year. I expect to see a perfect football team, because that’s going to be the criteria to evaluate it. A loss is absolutely disastrous. You cannot give me one reason in this world why we should ever lose a football game at Notre Dame - not a one! There is no reason. Now you can tell me the schedule. There is no reason we should ever lose another football game at Notre Dame, and we aren’t going to. Less than perfection is a personal embarrassment to me, to you and to this university. For us to ever represent the University of Notre Dame with less than perfection is totally inconsistent with our goals, our objectives and our beliefs. Congratulations once again on the fine start you have made in the winter program. This is our first step toward perfection

No comments: