Holtz's name floated as potential hire at Arkansas
TAMPA -- With Tuesday night's news that Arkansas had fired coach Bobby Petrino in the wake of a scandalous motorcycle accident, USF coach Skip Holtz has been mentioned prominently as a potential hire for the Razorbacks.
Holtz's father, Lou, was the head coach at Arkansas from 1977-83, going 60-21-2 and leading the Razorbacks to six bowl games, and during that time, Skip Holtz lived in Fayetteville from seventh grade though his graduation from Fayetteville High School. His final game as head coach at East Carolina before coming to USF in 2010 was against Arkansas, a game his Pirates lost in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.
"Being a kid, growing up as an Arkansas fan and now having to coach against them, this is when it hit me," Holtz told reporters before that game. "I feel like I should be sitting on that side because ... from seventh grade all the way up through high school, I grew up in Fayetteville."
That familiarity and nostalgia has drawn him to a job before -- he took his first head coaching job at I-AA Connecticut, where his father was an assistant when Skip was born. His father ranks third all-time among Arkansas head coaches, with the school's second-best career winning percentage, behind only Ken Hatfield.
Holtz is just 13-12 in two seasons at USF, going 5-7 overall and 1-6 in the Big East in 2011, but he won two Conference USA championships at East Carolina in 2008-09 and nearly beat Arkansas in that Liberty Bowl, losing only after a series of missed field goals.
The biggest lures to Arkansas might be the prestige of coaching in the SEC and the potential for a significant raise. Holtz is making $1.8 million this year in the third year of a five-year contract, but Petrino made more than twice that in 2011, earning $3.64 million. Nine of the SEC's 12 head coaches made at least $2.5 million in 2011. By Holtz's contract, he would owe USF $500,000 if he opted out of his deal this year.
In speculation immediately after Petrino's firing, Holtz's name came up often, largely on the connections his father has to Arkansas. "Skip Holtz may get in the mix for Arkansas with his dad pushing for it," CBS's Bruce Feldman tweeted.
Holtz did not respond to a message seeking comment, but he's scheduled to talk with reporters after Wednesday's morning practice, the last before USF's Green and Gold Bowl scrimmage on campus Saturday.