A Sit-Down With Skip Holtz
By Dan Harralson
Skip Holtz returns to Conference USA after winning the conference in 2008 and 2009 at ECU. The new Louisiana Tech head coach sat down with Football.com.
How do you feel about your quarterback Scotty Young going into the season and fall camp?
"He's done a great job. You never really know how a young man is going to handle the responsibility of that starting role, but you're talking about a quarterback. It's just not your play on the field, it's your leadership qualities for a team to follow you because that's a natural position of leadership. I think Scotty has done a great job for a guy that's not taken a snap in college football. He's really matured and grew during spring."
Was it hard to name a starting quarterback?
"We had said that when someone earns it, we'll name a starter. If we come out of spring and nobody's earned it, then we were going into fall camp and have some guys compete for it. I thought Scotty did, especially in the second and third (spring) scrimmages. I thought he got better every week."
How excited are you to be back in Conference USA?
"There's a lot of new faces when I start to look around. (There are) schools that weren't in this league when I was here. A lot of new faces with coaches and a lot of new schools. I think the thing with Conference USA is the stability. The stability of a conference with six bowl tie-ins, 80 games on television, 10 of our games this year on television. I just think there's a lot of positive things from the geographical rivalries to the stability of television and bowl tie-ins. I'm excited to be back in it."
What do you think about the commissioners of the five major conferences and their remarks about the NCAA lately?
"I think right now it's in the forming stages, so to speak. I think there's probably some conversations that are going to be had moving forward. I agree with a lot of their talking points. You say there's more than 300 schools that are putting on an issue and 200 of them don't play college football, but yet they're deciding the future of college football. I don't think those things make sense, but when you look at some of conferences, there's becoming a bigger and bigger separation off the field. On the field, it's getting closer and closer than it has ever been, that's why you see the so-called upsets."
Why are 'smaller' schools competing with the traditionally 'bigger' schools now?
"I think it's the 85-scholarship limitations, APR, a lot of rules in place with the 25 initial signees. The development with the rules of offensive football have created a lot more parity on the field."
How do you see Conference USA's future?
"If that's the cost of playing college football, a lot of conferences and schools are going to have to make a decision of what level they want to compete at. I think it's going to be harder for some than others, obviously with the television revenue. But you look at Fox and CBS Sports that have been great to this conference. As this whole thing plays out, I think Conference USA has an opportunity to be one of the better conferences, especially when you look outside of that top five (major conferences). (We had) the best bowl record of any conference in the country last year. There's a lot of good football played in this league. I think it's going to be exciting to see the future and where it's all going to go."
What are your thoughts on the new targeting rules?
"It's for the health of the players. I think we're all in favor of that. Nobody wants to see a young man get injured. I just think it's really difficult to decide the intent. If the intent is to launch the crown of the helmet, throw an elbow at the head or one those types of things ... I certainly understand the ramifications, or the penalties, being suspension. You just hate to see a young man ejected that didn't have a negative intent. You still need to protect the unprotected player."
Why do you see more and more teams go to the up-tempo spread offense when championships are being won by playing defense and running the ball?
"This is just my opinion. When you look at recruiting, some of the rules in place that allow the hurry-up offense to do what they do, to take advantage of the personnel situations, I think it's a lot easier to recruit the skill player than it is to recruit the offensive lineman. I think when you look at it traditionally, the Big Ten was known as the three yards and the cloud of dust. If you could run the ball, control the ball and protect your defense, then it's a lot easier to win football games. With the development of the passing game and the spread offenses, the new rules where the official doesn't stand over the ball, it gives you the opportunity to get an advantage on the defense. When you start looking at the 330-pound defensive lineman, it's hard for them to keep up. It's harder and harder to substitute."
What offense do you think works better?
"There's a lot of advantages of running the high up-tempo offense, but I still think when you can recruit the offensive lineman, run the ball, and control the ball up front, it's still the best way to win the football game."