Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes in all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. — 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Back in the early 80’s, Notre Dame football was sputtering over a five year period, resulting in a lackluster performance of only 30 wins and 26 losses. Enter Lou Holtz.
I didn’t know a great deal about this new head coach, so I watched some of his initial press conferences to see what I could make of him. I have to admit that he didn’t look like much.
He was a little wisp of a man at 5-foot-nothing and maybe 125 pounds. He also spoke with a bit of a lisp, but you didn’t have to listen for very long to know that there was something special about him.
Maybe it was the humble confidence, or the simple and motivational message he always delivered with such passion. Maybe it was the self-deprecating humor. Maybe it was just the untiring spring in his step or the little twinkle in his eye. Whatever it was, I liked him instantly.
“If what you did yesterday seems big, you haven’t done anything today.” — Lou Holtz
Lou got right down to business, which was the business of restoring a football team that had sunk from a champion to mediocrity. Reinstilling a sense of the great Notre Dame tradition was a part of the process.
While pouring through old University photo albums, Lou came across a photograph showing a sign in the Notre Dame locker room that read: “Play Like a Champion Today.”
“I asked everybody, ‘Who took it down?” he said. Nobody remembered it even being up. So I said, ‘Get that painted up. I’m going to put it in the same place and everybody is going to hit it on the way out to the field to remind them of all the sacrifices they have made, their families have made, and other people have made for them to be there.”
In their first season under the new head coach, The Fighting Irish posted a 5-6 record, the same as the previous season and the only losing season for Lou Holtz at Notre Dame. They followed that with an 8-4 record the next season. In his third season as head coach, Lou led the Irish to a perfect 12-0 season with a National Championship victory in the Fiesta Bowl.
Over his ten year run at Notre Dame, Lou posted an overall 100-32-2 record placing him as the second winningest coach in Notre Dame history, just behind Knute Rockne.
“Never tell your problems to anyone… 20% don’t care and the other 80% are glad you have them.”
— Lou Holtz
As a coach, everyone loved Lou Holtz with the exception of some of his opponents, and even they had to admire his gifts. As a man, he faced the same challenges as the rest of us, but his deep faith sustained him and his winning attitude always seemed to be a vital part of everything that he did.
“Do right. Do your best. Treat others as you want to be treated.” — Lou Holtz
I’m not sure why, but Lou Holtz sometimes reminds me of St. Paul. At least in my mind they both have the same diminutive size and lisp, but also the same fire in their belly!
After pondering St. Paul’s words on Love again, it makes we wonder what might happen if these two characters had the chance to get together.
St. Paul: “I really liked what you did with the sign, Lou, but I’d like to show you still a more excellent way.”
Lou: “Of course, St. Paul, I trust your judgment.”
St. Paul: “What do you think of this alteration to your sign?”
Lou: “Love Like a Champion Today. Hmm. Now that’s perfect!”