What Was Your Most Memorable Moment With Coach Holtz?

Coach Holtz, obviously, coaching legend, and it was a privilege to interact with him for four years. But there was one particular time that I interacted with him that has continued to impact my life. And this would have been spring training before the 1994 season. We are in our indoor practice facility and I’m actually running some reps with our first team offense. Now, in fairness, we were down talent in the wide receiver position that year a little bit and we maybe even had some more injuries, so I was actually getting some reps with our first team offense. I had also ran indoor track that year, it was the fastest I’d ever been, so I was having a good, productive, spring. I remember being split-out to the right and Ron Powlus was our quarterback and he was going to be throwing a deep ball that would likely be coming to me if I could get open over our defensive back. As I was split-out to the right, I could spell a pipe, and you knew what that meant, that was Coach Holtz because he would smoke a pipe during practice. And so, I’m split-out and I know he is standing behind me and I know this is a great opportunity. That if I perform on this play, he’s going to see it. He is right here. Sure enough, snap the ball, I beat the defensive back off the line, I get a step on him, I’m behind him, ball launches into the air, I catch it in stride, touchdown. Probably the greatest moment of my Notre Dame career. And I turn around and I’m thinking, “Coach Holtz saw this, this is great.” Now I’m jogging back and here comes Coach Holtz and I couldn’t wait for the accolades that were coming my way. And he’s walking, he kind of has his head down and he gets up to me and he looks up at me and he goes, “Son, how many hours are you taking in the fall?” I’m, you know, completely surprised by this question because I don’t know where it’s going. He’s supposed to complement me on what I just did and he said, “How many hours are you taking in the fall?” And I said, “Aye Coach, maybe about 14 maybe 15 hours.” And he said, “Well, you need to think about taking some more because you sure aren’t going to be playing football.” And he said, “You ran the route wrong” and he turned around and walked off.  Coach had this mantra that he used to pound into everybody’s head. He said, “You know, I don’t ask that you’re perfect, I’m not perfect, God didn’t make any of us perfect, and so I’m never going to ask that of you, but you better come so close to perfect that I can’t tell the difference.” I did something slightly not to his liking on that route and he cracked down on me hard but I also think that I was probably on the verge of doing something good so he decided to take the time to criticize me and that was actually a good sign.