More ink on USF: Bulls get wisdom from Dr. Lou
Skip Holtz has said he'll have his father make a few guest appearances at USF as an extra set of eyes, and sure enough, Lou Holtz made his first appearance at Wednesday's practice, speaking to the team before and after drills and watching from a golf cart with his grandson, Chad.
The elder Holtz, the College Football Hall of Fame coach and current ESPN analyst, wore a neck brace as he recovers from recent back surgery. Looks like he hadn't gotten any USF gear yet -- he sported a white Notre Dame polo and a ballcap with the "K" logo of his alma mater, Kent State. (USF reports that he had a Bulls baseball cap by the end of practice.)
"It's very special to have him here, and to have him come down and have the chance to talk to the team," Skip said after practice. "Also to kind of observe practice and give me his view on what he sees, positive and negative, where we are, kind of give us the view from 30,000 feet. Take a big overview of where we are. So often you get in the middle of the trees and it's hard to see the big picture of the forest."
Holtz also had his father speak to USF's baseball team, which is trying to bounce back from a 3-12 start, having won five of six games. Skip Holtz took in Tuesday's win against North Florida from the dugout, and said his father reminded the baseball Bulls on Wednesday of this year's Arkansas-Pine Bluff men's basketball team, which opened its season 0-11 but rallied to make the NCAA Tournament last week.
(Thanks much to the Times' Willie J. Allen for the photo.)
-- Holtz, a regular at USF's men's basketball games in his first two months on the job, said he hopes to attend many baseball games this spring. He played the sport up through high school as a catcher.
"I think I just liked talking trash to the batters," he said. "Baseball's a lot slower game than football, obviously, but to be involved in every single pitch and every single play. I love the game."
-- Holtz continues to be pleased with his players' attitude and effort, even as they work to digest new schemes and new terminology after five practices, just three in pads. Even with the Bulls' returning experience on offense, there's a lot to learn.
"Everybody's a freshman, mentally," he said. "We're not there yet as an offense, but if we keep working the way we are, we'll have a chance."
-- Guard Zach Hermann, who missed the end of last season with a bulging disc in his neck (I always think of Steve Levy when I type that), was held out of practice Wednesday just as a precaution after the first two practices in pads, Holtz said.
-- Proud moment today, as my pen died during post-practice interviews. I have a digital recorder, so it's not like I need to pen to get quotes, but I usually write down markers (1:45 he talked about RBs; 4:30 his dad, etc.) to remind me of important parts I'll pull out for notes. So I do the write-furiously-in-tiny-circles thing, the pen equivalent of CPR, but of course, the head coach notices. Not only does he notice, he stops and fishes a pen -- a working one, mind you -- out of his pocket and insists I take it. And he's taking my dead pen, in fact a capless pen I've chewed on. Check that, a capless pen I've chewed on after taking from a hotel. Outstanding. He says a reporter without a pen is like a coach without a whistle. Somewhere, my editor is laughing. At least the cellphone didn't go off.