University of South Carolina

Q and A: Lou Holtz

By Megan Sexton, msexton@mailbox.sc.edu, 803-777-1421

Longtime football coach Lou Holtz will speak to graduates at the University of South Carolina’s winter commencement Dec. 17. Holtz also will receive an honorary doctorate of education at the commencement ceremony. Holtz coached the USC Gamecocks from 1999-2004. We caught up with him by phone to talk about commencement, his time at USC and his thoughts about this year’s bowl games.

How does it feel to get an honorary doctorate degree from USC?

Lou Holtz: It means a great deal. I have great respect for the school. This is the highest honor they can pay somebody, so I’m honored. And I’ll tell you something about the University of South Carolina. It’s the only school where I never had a single football player want to leave because he didn’t like the school. There’s something magnetic about that school.

We have great memories there, so to be honored in this manner, I’m flattered and humbled.

What advice would you offer to the USC students about to graduate?

Holtz: Make good choices. Life is nothing more than making good choices. And once you make those choices, be accountable for them.

I would give them that simple philosophy. The whole thing in life – picking your school or your spouse or your profession, it’s all about the choices you make. The minute we understand that our life is controlled by the choices we make we know we don’t have to rely on other people for our happiness and our sadness.

What’s the best piece of advice you were given when you graduated from college?

Holtz: I don’t think anybody gave me any advice when I graduated. I guess the best advice came from my college coach. He said whatever you do, make sure you have no regrets when you are done. You don’t want to ever say, ‘I wish I would have done that.’ Accept what you do. I believe that’s pretty good advice. I’d rather have my memories than my youth.

What did you tell Coach Steve Spurrier when he followed you at USC?

Holtz: He didn’t need much advice. I told him South Carolina is an excellent school with great potential. He understood that. And he’s done an excellent job. I thought it was on a firm foundation and he could take it to next level. And he has. The success he’s had could be attributed to one person and that’s him.

What’s your prediction for two of your former schools playing in bowl games – Notre Dame in the national championship game and South Carolina playing Michigan?

Holtz: Notre Dame is very, very capable of beating Alabama. They match up well. They’ve had six weeks to prepare. And the fact that Notre Dame thinks they are a team of destiny is a big plus. It’s surprising to me that they are eight-and-a-half-point underdogs. I think if they played 10 times, Alabama would win six.

South Carolina is far superior to Michigan in every phase of the game. Their defense is outstanding. (Jadeveon) Clowney is an All-American. I love Connor Shaw. Losing Marcus Lattimore was a big blow, but Kenny Miles stepped in. South Carolina is talented, they’re well coached. They have size, speed and strength.

I think South Carolina compares favorably with Alabama. South Carolina is one of the 10 best teams in the country. I’ve said that all year.

Who was the most exciting football player to watch this year?

Holtz: I’d have to say (Texas A&M quarterback) Johnny Manziel. He broke (former Auburn quarterback) Cam Newton’s total offensive record in the SEC. He made incredible plays. You just didn’t expect it.

But when you talk about punt returners, (USC’s Ace) Sanders is the most exciting one I saw.

About USC commencement

  • When: 3:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17
  • Where: Colonial Life Arena
  • Who: Baccalaureate, master’s and professional-degree recipients from all eight campuses
  • Speaker: Lou Holtz, longtime football coach, author and television personality
  • Honorary degree recipients: Lou Holtz, honorary doctorate of education; Cathy Novinger, retired executive of SCANA Corp., community leader and philanthropist, honorary doctorate of public service; Wenliang Wang, chairman of Rilin Enterprises Ltd., a global construction and logistics firm based in Dandong, China, and a major benefactor of higher education programs that focus on U.S.-China relations, honorary doctorate of business administration.
  • Watch it: Commencement will be live streamed at http://www.sc.edu/commencement/

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Posted: 12/10/12 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 12/17/12 @ 3:43 PM | Permalink