Skip Holtz Returns To Conference USA
By Dan Harralson
The 2013 college football season will eye the move of Louisiana Tech to Conference USA from the WAC. It also brings back Skip Holtz, who is no stranger to the conference.
Holtz made his mark in the conference in 2008 and 2009 when the son of Hall-of-Famer Lou won the C-USA. Skip won back-to-back conference titles as head coach at East Carolina and compiled a 38-27 overall record (28-12 C-USA record).
Holtz left Greeneville, N.C., for a BCS conference school in South Florida. After going 8-5 with a win over Clemson in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in 2010, the final two seasons did not fare well for the two-time C-USA champ. The Bulls slipped in 2011 (5-7, 1-6) and 2012 (3-9, 1-6), which got Holtz ousted in Tampa. South Florida turned to Willie Taggart of Western Kentucky.
Sonny Dykes left Louisiana Tech to take the reigns at Cal, opening the door to allow Holtz to be hired in Ruston.
"The best advice I got from everybody was to get back in it," Holtz told reporters after his hiring. "Don't sit out. It's too easy to say, 'Sit out, I'm going to rest a little bit, I'm tired.' But don't sit out. If you can get back in it, get back in it."
Holtz pondered taking coordinator positions on the college and NFL levels, but ultimately took the La. Tech job when offered.
"I came in and talked with the president and the athletic director and the faculty athletic [representative], and the more I started talking to them the more and more excited I got about the program," Holtz said. "And what started in as 'Tell me a little more about it' became 'What do I have to do to get this job?'"
Holtz takes over a good situation in a nine-win team that Sonny Dykes helped build off of his predecessor, Derek Dooley. Expect the Bulldogs to throw the ball around a lot with La. Tech bringing in Tony Peterson from Marshall. Peterson was co-offensive coordinator the last three seasons at Marshall, which was his second stint in Huntington. From 1991-98, Peterson was Marshall's quarterbacks coach, propelling The Herd to the 1992 and 1996 Division I-AA national championships. Marshall then moved to the MAC and Peterson helped guide The Herd to the 1997 and 1998 conference championships.
Chad Pennington, Byron Leftwich, Randy Moss and three-time Super Bowl champion Troy Brown were all players that Peterson coached and developed. He looks to do the same with Texas Tech transfer quarterback Scotty Young. Former La. Tech quarterback Tim Rattay will join the staff as wide receiver's coach and will help develop the offense with Peterson.
Holtz is hitting the right strides as he makes his return to the conference and builds his La. Tech staff and program. The Bulldogs have a legitimate shot of finishing high in the C-USA West standings. A favorable conference schedule of Tulane, at UTEP, North Texas, at FIU, Southern Miss, at Rice, Tulsa and at UTSA will give the Bulldogs a real chance to even compete for the C-USA West championship.