Tony DeMeo

Wins, Losses, and Lessons by Lou Holtz

Lou Holtz was the master of the turnaround. In his career as a college football coach he directed the turnaround of SIX programs! Six times Holtz took over a floundering football program and led it to wins, bowl games, national rankings and even National Championships. There is no greater challenge in college coaching than bringing a team mired in a culture of losing to one of winning.

In Wins, Losses, and Lessons Holtz brings you on a journey through the life of an outstanding football coach. One of the cornerstone of the Holtz Doctrine is: ATTITUDE. Attitude makes all the difference. How you respond to challenges in the second half will determine the outcome of the game.

Lou grew up dirt poor but learned work ethic and the W.I.N. Philosophy – What’s Important Now. He used a daily do list and developed the ability to prioritize. Every decision you make leads to consequences. You make choices and then your choices make you.

Another of Holtz’s pillars of his philosophy is never lower your standards of quality. If you do you’ll get beat. A coach’s job is to communicate his knowledge to his players and teach them how to handle success and failure.

Probably the biggest break that Lou got was the opportunity to work for Woody Hayes in 1968. Ohio State won the National Championship with a Rose Bowl win over USC. Holtz saw how demanding Hayes was never settling for anything less than excellence. Hayes demanded attention to detail. Fundamentals were the hallmark of a Woody Hayes team.

Holtz became a believer in option football and rode the Split Back to great success at William and Mary, North Carolina State, and Arkansas. The Veer was the great equalizer and was a key ingredient in the Holtz turnaround manifesto.

Another cornerstone of Holtz’s philosophy was DISCIPLINE. Holtz’s decision to bench three stars in the Orange Bowl vs heavily favored Oklahoma was a defining moment in Lou’ career. The Do Right Rule was a big part of Holtz’s code of discipline. Set the tone in the beginning and never let it slip.

Lou was fired without reason at Arkansas but bounced back turning around the UM Golden Gophers. And then led the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame to two National Championships. Lou’s tenure at ND was a great example of going from “good to great”. The steps were simple:

  1. Conditioning – develop a standard of excellence.
  2. Build team concept.
  3. Install Option to force the defense to be basic
  4. No excuses – find solutions.
  5. Recruit attitude 1st.
  6. Increase attention to detail.
  7. Loyalty is the result of discipline.
  8. Expect to win.

This book gives great insight into the mind of a highly successful college football coach. Holtz holds nothing back and gives a formula for reviving football programs. This is an excellent book that is also available on CDs. Lou Holtz is a great teacher, leader and coach who shares his secrets of winning in this book. I strongly recommend this book and the CD set to guide you through your turnaround situation.