Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a past president and member of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
LIKE IT IS:
Holtz always has something worth hearing
Former Arkansas/Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz serves as the guest speaker Monday Sept. 23, 2013 at the Springdale Rotary Club and NWA Touchdown Club luncheon at the Springdale Holiday Inn in Springdale. Holtz told stories from his coaching and broadcasting careers and some of the his opinions on the sport today.
It is a big deal, and a lot of talented football players and coaches will be honored Thursday night at the annual Little Rock Touchdown Club banquet.
Former NFL All-Pros Cliff Harris and Willie Roaf will be on hand to share the experience with the first-time winners of awards named after them.
David Bazzel, the creative mind behind all the awards as well as the Little Rock Touchdown Club, outdid himself with this year’s guest speaker, Lou Holtz.
Holtz, now a football analyst for ESPN as well as a motivational speaker, is in demand all over the country but waived much of his fee to be here because of Bazzel, who played linebacker for Holtz at Arkansas.
Holtz is witty, insightful and entertaining. He’s known for his one-liners.
“Don’t tell your problems to people: 80 percent don’t care, and the other 20 percent are glad you have them.”
His talk alone will be worth the price of admission, but in the end he will honor the coaches and athletes because that’s the way he is.
As visible and outspoken as he might be, in many ways Holtz is a very private man who has endured and kept his own aches and pains to himself, including much of his wife’s battle with cancer.
He loves football. The sport. The game. The teamwork. All the discipline and dedication that go with it.
“If what you did yesterday seems big, you haven’t done anything today.”
Admittedly, some controversy has followed Holtz, including NCAA investigations and fallout from his tendency to shoot from the lip.
When he came to Arkansas he replaced the legendary Frank Broyles, but he immediately had an impact on a state and the nation.
His first season ended in the Orange Bowl with a game against Oklahoma, which was looking to win its third consecutive national championship after Texas had lost earlier that day.
Controversy surrounded the Razorbacks. Holtz had suspended two running backs and a wide receiver, and then as bowl practices were wrapping up, All-American guard Leotis Harris was lost to an injury.
The Razorbacks went on to win 31-6, and it seemed like overnight there were Lou Holtz dolls and he was appearing on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
Six years after that victory over Oklahoma, he was fired because he was losing the fan base. It was originally announced that he resigned because of fatigue, but that didn’t hold because a few days later he accepted the job at Minnesota.
“The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is most likely the one who dropped it.”
That led to Notre Dame, a perfect fit for Holtz, who was raised in the Catholic faith. In 1988 the Fighting Irish went undefeated and won the national championship. He retired after the 1996 season, spent two years as an analyst on CBS, and then took the South Carolina job.
Six years later he retired again. This time it stuck.
Despite some NCAA problems at Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish built a statue on campus to honor him for his 100-30-2 record.
“They say a tie is like kissing your sister. I guess that is better than kissing your brother.”
Holtz has never been shy about sharing his wisdom and the lessons he’s learned in life, and Thursday night he will wow the crowd as only he can.
“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”
When the banquet ends, every person in the place will have been entertained and will have gained a little knowledge from a very smart man who was a heck of a football coach.
Sports, Pages 19 on 02/12/2014