Lou Holtz at Minnesota - 1984-1985

Iceland12

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Holtz did very well at Notre Dame. Though he did have another scandal involving payments to players. Probably why he walked away from a lifetime contract.

Following an investigation in 1999, the NCAA placed Notre Dame on two years probation for extra benefits provided to football players between 1993 and 1999 by Kim Dunbar, a South Bend bookkeeper involved in a $1.4 million embezzlement scheme at her employer, as well as one instance of academic fraud that occurred under Holtz's successor, Bob Davie. The NCAA found that Holtz and members of his staff learned of the violations but failed to make appropriate inquiry or to take prompt action, finding Holtz's efforts "inadequate
 
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HoustonTXGopher

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Holtz era was fun....met Coach Holtz on more than one occasion and was at the Holtz household in Edina a couple of times. Coach Holtz was very intimidating and a serious guy. I know he loved his family and was a hell of a football coach, and his magic tricks were quite entertaining as well. I never blamed him for leaving Minnesota, wish he would have stayed but he got his national championship at ND and had led a very exciting life. From my perspective ,Holtz did what every coach was doing to get an edge in college football.

Thankful for where are current program is and excited for the upcoming years of Gopher football.
 

xyz1

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Seriously, did anybody not cheat in the 1980s? Jim Wacker goes into TCU and uses the "will be a clean program" schtick while claiming that all the SW Conference cheats, then is forced to voluntarily kill his own program because it became public that his boosters were cheating.
To be fair to Wacker, he expressly looked into it at TCU, told his AD and everyone else it had to stop, and was told all payoffs were over, but boosters kept doing it behind his back. He had flaws as a coach but as a person he was of much higher character than most college coaches.
 

Spaulding!No!

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How about we discuss the gravitas of Sid ‘handout Hartmann and how it had a less than zero effect.
 

jovs

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Lou was a cheater. He left Minnesota because Minnesota wasn’t willing to cheat. Notre Dame was a middling institution that was beyond wiling to cheat to hold on to what little national brand they had left. Hiring Lou and cheating like crazy for decades paid off for ND.

The Gophers were never even moderately decent during Lou’s short tenure. And contrary to what old-timers think, there’s no evidence he would have been successful at the U. Holtz ball relied on cheating. That just wasn’t going to happen at the U.
Exactly, there's a reason he got those top recruits, I wouldn't glorify those years even though they were fun.
 


Otis

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Salem’s Last Hope, fun team name.

I played on Cirrosis of the Liver fall of 84-88!

Still have my letter from Lou asking me to walk-on at the U.
 

Gold Rush

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Salem’s Last Hope, fun team name.

I played on Cirrosis of the Liver fall of 84-88!

Still have my letter from Lou asking me to walk-on at the U.
Those were some fun times indeed!! I would have kept the letter too!
 

restovich

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Another Holtz perspective........My memory is a little vague of the 1984 season. 39 years ago now! I had season tickets 1978-1983, but had finished Master's, and I moved to Iowa for first job. The 1983 FB season, as many here have said here (including myself) was a very hard slog. I recall being kind of skeptical of Holtz from afar. The team had been so bad in the past year, but was reputed to have some 'good recruits". I had to go to GopherSports to refresh my memory of 1984.

The team was doing "okay" but not great when Holtz made a switch in QBs. He decided that the Gophers could not win many games with drop back passer Brett Sadek, and so he switched to a very gifted freshmna QB from South Carolina who ran option plays. And ran very well. It looks like the big QB switch was made in the 4th game that year, an otherwise routine blowout by Ohio State. But two victories (Indiana and Wisconsin) followed. It was quite fun to follow from afar, because the team was now at least "competive". I recall a blow-out loss to Illinois (I think Tim Brewster was a TE on that Illini team).

But the personal highlight for that year was attending a late year game at the metro-dump and beating IOWA! Who was a fairly good football team that year, but somewhat down for that particular game by injuries. A WR from Davenport IA named Gary Couch, another FR, scored a nice run play for the go-ahead winning touchdown. At that point I sure wasn't skeptical of Holtz anymore.

So you can call the year/record "mediocre" if you want. But the experience was a far cry from that. We had gone in one year from losing games 61-10 (and 84-13......) to upsetting both Wisconsin and Iowa. Fall of 1984 was a long time ago, but I still recall my buddy and I talking to some very-pissed Hawkeye fans that day as the game ended. One of the old-timer Hawk fans was more kind about it. The Hawks had put up 60 some against us in 1983. After seeing the first Holtz team in the Metro-dump, he said the difference in Minnesota football teams in one year was absolutley astounding.

Too bad it didn't work out better with Holtz. He has his drawbacks, as many here have pointed out. But it sure was fun to have *hope* for a football team again after that 1-10 year!
 
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Gold Rush

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Another Holtz perspective........My memory is a little vague of the 1984 season. 39 years ago now! I had season tickets 1978-1983, but had finished Master's, and I moved to Iowa for first job. The 1983 FB season, as many here have said here (including myself) was a very hard slog. I recall being kind of skeptical of Holtz from afar. The team had been so bad in the past year, but was reputed to have some 'good recruits". I had to go to GopherSports to refresh my memory of 1984.

The team was doing "okay" but not great when Holtz made a switch in QBs. He decided that the Gophers could not win many games with drop back passer Brett Sadek, and so he switched to a very gifted freshmna QB from South Carolina who ran option plays. And ran very well. It looks like the big QB switch was made in the 4th game that year, an otherwise routine blowout by Ohio State. But two victories (Indiana and Wisconsin) followed. It was quite fun to follow from afar, because the team was now at least "competive". I recall a blow-out loss to Illinois (I think Tim Brewster was a TE on that Illini team).

But the personal highlight for that year was attending a late year game at the metro-dump and beating IOWA! Who was a fairly good football team that year, but somewhat down for that particular game by injuries. A WR from Davenport IA named Gary Couch, another FR, scored a nice run play for the go-ahead winning touchdown. At that point I sure wasn't skeptical of Holtz anymore.

So you can call the year/record "mediocre" if you want. But the experience was a far cry from that. We had gone in one year from losing games 61-10 (and 84-13......) to upsetting both Wisconsin and Iowa. Fall of 1984 was a long time ago, but I still recall my buddy and I talking to some very-pissed Hawkeye fans that day as the game ended. One of the old-timer Hawk fans was more kind about it. The Hawks had put up 60 some against us in 1983. After seeing the first Holtz team in the Metro-dump, he said the difference in Minnesota football teams in one year was absolutley astounding.

Too bad it didn't work out better with Holtz. He has his drawbacks, as many here have pointed out. But it sure was fun to have *hope* for a football team again after that 1-10 year!
I guess it's all about perspective. Gopher fans would not be too happy with four wins next year but back then it was cause for euphoria!! Hope is one of the very best things in life - if you do not have a championship team if you can sell hope you can still generate a lot of interest. Today Colorado is going through much the same thing we did in 1984. When you have been beaten down hard and humiliated week in and week out you tend to appreciate the wins and even the "small victories" a lot more. I do know the fans at Colorado will end up much the same as Gophers fans did when Sanders moves on suddenly in a few years....it's like watching a re-run --- lol.
 



LesBolstad

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I don't recall Daniel Ford QB recruit. Where was he from and what became of his Gopher career?
 

Gold Rush

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I don't recall Daniel Ford QB recruit. Where was he from and what became of his Gopher career?
He was from Oklahoma -- he got beat out by Rickey Foggie and ended up transferring to Arizona St. He did play out there some but Foggie was clearly the better QB especially in the option system that Holtz wanted to run.
 

Some guy

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People overrate the holt era.
Happy you guys are excited but:
7(6 with holtz) - 5
4-7

But it was cause for euphoria!
Even though the team had been 6-5 just two years before he got there.


I know 1983 was bad but holtz averaged 5 wins per year if you don’t credit him with wins after he left. (5.5 if you give him a win that was after he left)
Salem a averaged 3.8
Stoll averaged 5.6


I guess I wasn’t a fan in 1983 so I don’t know how depressed people were. But a guy came in and almost beat some people. You know in 1984 the program really was 2021 Nebraska. Just 20 years or so from national relevance with people excited about almost beating people.
 

Gold Rush

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People overrate the holt era.
Happy you guys are excited but:
7(6 with holtz) - 5
4-7

But it was cause for euphoria!
Even though the team had been 6-5 just two years before he got there.


I know 1983 was bad but holtz averaged 5 wins per year if you don’t credit him with wins after he left. (5.5 if you give him a win that was after he left)
Salem a averaged 3.8
Stoll averaged 5.6


I guess I wasn’t a fan in 1983 so I don’t know how depressed people were. But a guy came in and almost beat some people. You know in 1984 the program really was 2021 Nebraska. Just 20 years or so from national relevance with people excited about almost beating people.
I get it -- you weren't there so you don't realize how bad things were when Lou Holtz got here. They were outscored 518-181 or 47-16 which has to be some type of record for us. Things got so bad they did not even put out a pointspread for the Michigan game because oddsmakers did not think Minnesota could put out a competitive team - I have never seen that! Also, they even put out an ad in the Minnesota Daily for students to try out for the team as walkons so they could have enough bodies for practice!! There was some talk about dropping down a level to play vs. North Dakota St as that would be more competitive..... THAT's how bad it was.

Here was their season:

DateOpponentSiteResultAttendanceSource
September 10at Rice*W 21–1710,000[4]
September 17No. 1 Nebraska*L 13–8462,687
September 24Purdue
  • Metrodome
  • Minneapolis
L 20–3241,839
October 1at No. 8 Ohio StateL 18–6989,192
October 8at IndianaL 31–3841,111
October 15Wisconsin
dagger
L 17–5662,689
October 22at NorthwesternL 8–1921,411
October 29at Michigan StateL 10–3476,481
November 5No. 6 Illinois
  • Metrodome
  • Minneapolis
L 23–5035,514
November 12No. 9 Michigan
  • Metrodome
  • Minneapolis
L 10–5840,945
November 19at No. 11 IowaL 10–6166,160
 



restovich

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I was a fan in 1983, with season tickets.

Yes, we were pretty depressed. Those Illinois and Michigan home Metro-dump games late in the season were really difficult to motivate oneself to attend. No chance to win, or even compete. But we did go. My recollection is hitting the beer pretty hard......

That 61-10 iowa score made beating them the next year in the Metro-dump all the sweeter.
 
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Hates Monikers

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People overrate the holt era.
Happy you guys are excited but:
7(6 with holtz) - 5
4-7

But it was cause for euphoria!
Even though the team had been 6-5 just two years before he got there.


I know 1983 was bad but holtz averaged 5 wins per year if you don’t credit him with wins after he left. (5.5 if you give him a win that was after he left)
Salem a averaged 3.8
Stoll averaged 5.6


I guess I wasn’t a fan in 1983 so I don’t know how depressed people were. But a guy came in and almost beat some people. You know in 1984 the program really was 2021 Nebraska. Just 20 years or so from national relevance with people excited about almost beating people.
You have no idea how bad 1983 was. If the the term "power 5" was around back then, we were the worst -- by far. Going to four wins the next year seemed like a miracle. In 1985, almost beating #1 Oklahoma, going to-to-toe with Ohio State (one of the few times we've sold out when it we weren't helped by Iowa and Wisconsin fans) and going to a bowl game (only 18 bowl games that year) was incomprehensible after 1983.

Holtz would've had us in a Rose Bowl had he stayed.
 

rugger14

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The 1982 team started out 3-0 and cracked the top 20. I cut the poll out of the paper and hung it up in my room. It was that amazing. Then they lost every game after that. 1983 was an total train wreck. To actually have a pulse in 84 and then make a bowl game in 85 was an amazing turn around. The team was that bad before Holtz got here. Then they whiffed on Gutey. Not sure why they went with the "safe" hire after Holtz. Gutey could not recruit like Holtz. Wacker had some fun teams but it always felt like we could score 40 and lose. Mase got us back to relevance.
 

Replacement Gopher

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Those years were some of the most exciting times for the Gopher football team that I have ever witnessed. We have had a number of coaches since then, but never have things been so exciting or have I been so optimistic for the future. It was very fun to be a Gopher fan -- until it crashed and burned spectacularly.

The year was 1983 and I was a freshman at the U of M playing on an intramural football there we called "Salem's Last Hope." It was a brutal year for Joe Salem's Gophers but a glorious year for us! The Gophers were outscored by horrific margins and were brutally outmatched in every game they played after a victory over Rice in the first game. For any Gopher that complains about any other year in Gopher football history, they either did not witness or forgot about 1983 -- the worst season ever. (I wish I could forget about that one, myself!! lol)

At any rate, Salem stepped down and possibly the most inept Gopher football coaching search committee was formed. A few months went by and finally late in December they offered the job to Les Steckel who went on to crash the Vikings into the most disastrous season ever shortly afterward. Steckel turned them down. They then offered it to Lavelle Edwards at BYU. Unfortunately, Edwards had zero interest in the job and hadn't even put in for the job in the first place!! The committee then announced they were starting back at ground zero. Keep in mind this is already late December and national signing day was early February!! We had zero commitments and the whole class looked like a complete disaster. Interest in Gopher football was at the lowest ever.

Well --- in an amazing turn of events, Lou Holtz left Arkansas and some heavy hitters came in and bailed out the awful search committee and got him here. I can not believe how fast things changed. Immediately, interest skyrocketed for a program that had finished 1-11 the season before. The only thing I can compare this to would be what Colorado is going through right now with Deion Sanders. I fully expect things to crash and burn there in a few years as he moves on to greener pastures but we shall see on that one.

Holtz said when he got here he looked at the recruiting list and it only had 5 names on it and he knew he needed to get busy right away. Keep in mind this is already late December and most schools were already nearing their limit on scholarships. Holtz's first recruit was TE Tim Juneau out of Blaine but he knew he needed to get a QB right away. He signed a good QB named Daniel Ford who looked like a sure fire starter from day one. He also got a QB out of St. Louis named Michael Baker, another out of Florida named Alan Holt and another from South Carolina who projected as an athlete named Rickey Foggie. I figured Foggie was probably going to end up as a DB or WR because Ford was supposed to be so good!!

Each day I would eagerly buy a newspaper to see who committed next and they continued to pour in from all over. Each day, Holtz would fire off some new quips and we knew things would get better. The Gopher football team was suddenly the talk of the town! I got season tickets the first day possible and many others did, too with Gopher attendance over 50k the first year and 56k the next. The first year we went 4-7 with Foggie becoming a superstar option QB. We upset both Wisconsin and Iowa (EVERY victory at that time was an upset!)

This momentum only continued to get better the next year and the Gophers were clearly getting better. Oklahoma barely escaped with a 13-7 victory and #9 Ohio St was fortunate to win 23-19 after the Gophers were driving and Foggie was hurt and had to leave the game. They finished 6-5 and received a bid to play in the Independence Bowl vs. Clemson.

Everyone remembers the rest. In an absolutely soul crushing moment, Holtz leaves for Notre Dame and wins the national championship a few years later. I can only imagine what would have happened if he had stayed. Some think the Gophers would have received a probation or even the death penalty but George Stewart who played for Holtz and became a coach for many years disagrees. Stewart said Notre Dame would not have won their NC had Holtz stayed here. Many of their players that won were set to come to Minnesota. "We had a chance to build something sustainable at Minnesota." says Stewart. When coach Holtz left in ‘85 that (first) recruiting class we had in South Bend, (the) majority of those guys were coming here,” he said. “They all switched (Minnesota commitments) and came to South Bend with coach Holtz (in 1986). You’re talking about a lot of great players. …We were able to have a national championship with those guys.”

THIS was as close as the Gophers have come to national greatness in my lifetime. It came crashing down hard and we all took it pretty hard when he left. We were SO close to being a truly great program!! I can only imagine the great victories and players we would have had here -- it was a pretty hard rug pull for us Gopher fans!! I know you have to grit your teeth and move on but sometimes I think back and wonder "What could have been?"

I do not hold any grudges against Lou Holtz. For a couple years he put a charge with a lightning bolt here and put us briefly on the map. He got us out of being a complete embarrassment into a somewhat relevant team and most of all gave us hope!!! He moved on to the biggest of stages in college football with great success. Many people hated him when he left but for all his faults he was a pretty darn good coach and that is undeniable.
Post of the week!
 




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