Skip Holtz isn't the only USF coach with strong family ties to Notre Dame football.
Receivers coach Phil McGeoghan grew up in Massachusetts a big Notre Dame fan (as his name suggests, his family has roots in Ireland). That loyalty has a particularly memorable spot in his family's history: Five years ago this week, McGeoghan's uncle, David Killeen, was watching a Notre Dame-Penn State game on television when he suffered a massive heart attack, killing him at age 62.
"He was the biggest Notre Dame fan in the family," McGeoghan, 32, said. "He passed away in his Notre Dame stuff, which is how he wanted to go."
USF's quarterbacks coach, Peter Vaas, was on the Notre Dame staff at the time. He had coached McGeoghan in NFL Europe, and when he was told of Killeen's death, Vaas took the Notre Dame baseball cap he had worn on the sideline that day, got autographs from quarterback Brady Quinn, receiver Jeff Samardzija and other players, and sent it by overnight delivery to McGeoghan.
"The wake was on Tuesday," said McGeoghan, who grew up with Notre Dame quarterback Tony Rice as his favorite player. "We buried him in the hat. It was unique, and my family was so appreciative of the gesture from coach Vaas."
Killeen's last Notre Dame game was a good one. Quinn threw three touchdown passes, one to Samardzija, in a 41-17 victory, matching the most lopsided loss for Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno over the past five years.