Holtz hardly recognized '70 Rockets

Lou Holtz, who took six schools to bowl games, addresses the
Urban All-American Awards Celebration at SeaGate Centre.
Lou Holtz, who took six schools to bowl games, addresses the Urban All-American Awards Celebration at SeaGate Centre.

As a backup linebacker for Kent State in the late 1950s, Lou Holtz had several recollections of the Toledo Rockets, and none too formidable.

Facing the Rockets in Holtz's first bowl game as a head coach is another story.

Holtz, then the coach at William & Mary, saw a 7-6 halftime score in the 1970 Tangerine Bowl turn into a 40-12 pounding of his Indians by the Rockets.

"Well, that wasn't the Toledo I played against," Holtz said he thought during the game. "We made great preparation ... [but] they just pounded us in the second half."

Holtz was in Toledo yesterday to speak at the Urban All-American Awards Celebration at SeaGate Centre. The awards, hosted by Central Cities Ministries of Toledo, raised money for Central Cities elementary school scholarships and recognized former scholarship recipients.

Because he took six programs to bowl games during his 33-year career as a head coach, the only person to accomplish that feat, Holtz's travels often include familiar sites.

"Everywhere I go, I have memories," Holtz said.

Holtz, 68, retired at the end of the 2004 season after coaching South Carolina for six seasons. Since then he has traveled the country for speaking engagements and charity events. Before the event, Holtz said he's done almost nothing else.

"I've been everywhere except my bed; I've spoken to everybody but my wife," Holtz said.

When Holtz announced he would step down last November, he didn't rule out a return to coaching. Yesterday, he said his absence from coaching has already affected him.

"I miss association with young people. I miss making them better," Holtz said. "You can't do it as many years as I did it and not miss it."

Always good for a few one-liners, Holtz also granted his opinion on several topics surrounding the game.

On new Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis and his potential: "Charlie's won everywhere he's been. He should be successful. He went to Notre Dame, he knows what it's all about. I've talked to him. I don't think there's any doubt that he can win. They said the same things about Notre Dame in 1986 when I went there. Notre Dame will be back on top and will be on top for a long time."

On the NCAA's addition of a 12th regular-season game to schedules, starting in 2006: "I think 12 games is good because it brings in more money. Everybody talks about, well, players don't want to play any more games. Well, that's nonsense. They just don't want to practice. They might say, 'I don't want a 12th game,' then they go play in three all-star games."

On the Mid-American Conference and football in Ohio: "You don't want to play the Mid-American Conference. They're going to be good, solid, well-coached football teams. I think people minimize the amount of talent in Ohio. The high school coaches do a great job teaching the fundamentals. The Mid-American Conference is an outstanding conference, very underrated."

On his conversation with Urban Meyer, on his staff at Notre Dame, before Meyer took the coaching job at Bowling Green State University: "He said, 'I'm not sure it's a good job.' I said, 'Urban, good jobs don't open up. Only bad jobs open up. If a good job opened up, what makes you think they'd hire you?'‚óŹ"

On his conversation with Meyer before Meyer accepted the Florida job: "He called me just before he made the final decision. I said, 'Hey, Urban, whatever you want to do.' I thought he was going to Notre Dame. But he had good reasons why he made the decision, and I respect Urban Meyer. I went up and spoke at his high school coaching clinic a few weeks ago. He's a great coach and he will do a tremendous job."

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