Sid Hartman: Disagreement over duties made Lou Holtz leave Gophers

BleedGopher

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per Sid:

Editor's note: On every remaining Sunday in 2020, the Star Tribune will republish a memorable Sid Hartman column from the archives. This is Sid's column from the Sept. 13, 1986, edition of the Star Tribune after he talked to former Gophers football coach Lou Holtz before his first game as Notre Dame's coach.

Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz talked this week about how he had been ready to make "a commitment to Minnesota for the rest of my active coaching days." He would be at Minnesota today had things worked out.

Holtz didn't want to go into details because he doesn't want to embarrass anybody, but close friends always will remember the date — July 23, 1985.

Gophers men's athletic director Paul Giel was having heart problems again. Giel was concerned he might need another operation and wouldn't be able to handle his job.

Giel asked Holtz if he would like to take over most of Giel's duties. Giel wanted to continue to be a fund-raiser, to represent the university at Big Ten meetings and to handle public relations. Holtz would run the daily operation and make the big decisions. The university administration favored Giel's idea.

Holtz talked with his wife, Beth, and decided to make a five-year commitment to Minnesota, under an ironclad contract binding him to Minnesota whether Notre Dame or anybody else called.

Holtz was enthused. He had big ideas. However, when he had a second meeting with Giel, something happened. They couldn't agree on which duties each would perform. So the deal fell through.

Giel again approached Holtz late in the football season. He was ready to give Holtz what he wanted.

It was too late. Holtz already had been approached by people close to Notre Dame.

Not easy to leave
It wasn't easy for Holtz to leave. The same people who sold Holtz on taking the Gophers' job let him know he could name the salary he wanted to stay at Minnesota.

There is no doubt that the downtown group would have raised enough money to pay Holtz $500,000 a year if he decided to stay at Minnesota.

However, Holtz is a devout Catholic, and Notre Dame was something he wanted. He took the Irish job at a big cut in salary. He also had to cut the number of speaking appearances he makes around the country, appearances for which he is well paid.

He had his critics in Minnesota, but they were in the minority. And those people didn't know what they were talking about.


Go Gophers!!
 

gophernut1

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This article is incredibly relevant to today. The University of Minnesota did not become a doormat in the Big Ten by accident. Political and social ideologies that look at athletes in a negative light have long been the biggest enemy to the U of M football program. I have no doubt someone made Giel back off because they didn't want a football coach having that much power.

If we lose PJ it will not be about money or the potential to be amazing here in Minnesota. It will be because of the "moral elites" who only feel powerful by belittling athletes and/or don't see how investing in athletics impacts academics.

I hope the U has learned a lesson and is committing to athletics. I think our President and AD have the insight and foresight to make us "Elite."
 

Ogee Oglethorpe

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This article is incredibly relevant to today. The University of Minnesota did not become a doormat in the Big Ten by accident. Political and social ideologies that look at athletes in a negative light have long been the biggest enemy to the U of M football program.
There are a LOT of people in academia that think it is no place for athletics. Forget about preferential treatment (like at the blue bloods), I actually had professors essentially discriminate against me for playing football. Both need to understand that they both need each other. Not everyone gets that.
 

Frink

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Just Sid covering for a close, personal friend to maintain access. Holtz used the U as a stepping stone to Notre Dame, period. If I'm not mistaken Holtz had even talked about Notre Dame as the one place he would leave for. Say what you will about Reusse but he was closer to the mark when referred to Holtz as "The Music Man."
 

EG#9

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Jeez, I have no doubt the last 35 years would have worked out better for Gopher Football had things turned out differently (how could they have turned out worse really?) so that is tough to read. I remember my barber talking when I was a little kid about all the guys on the Notre Dame national title team that were going to be Gophers. It is funny though that Holtz is the only coach in 35 years to leave Gopher football/basketball on their own accord yet the first moment a coach has even a tiny hint of success a large portion of the fanbase believes they are the most coveted coach in the nation and will leave Minnesota.
 

BilldGopher

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This was before my time as a Gophers fan and I've not dug much into the history around Coach Holtz and his tenure here.

That offered, wasn't Lou showing almost immediate promise in recruiting real talent nationally to Minnesota? Also, when he did go didn't most or all of those same players go with him to Notre Dame?

Just a history lesson on a Sunday morning.

BTW, I do believe this is when "mean Goldy" showed up for a year. I am fortunate to have collected a few items from back in the day with his moniker on them.
 

Bob_Loblaw

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This article is incredibly relevant to today. The University of Minnesota did not become a doormat in the Big Ten by accident. Political and social ideologies that look at athletes in a negative light have long been the biggest enemy to the U of M football program. I have no doubt someone made Giel back off because they didn't want a football coach having that much power.

If we lose PJ it will not be about money or the potential to be amazing here in Minnesota. It will be because of the "moral elites" who only feel powerful by belittling athletes and/or don't see how investing in athletics impacts academics.

I hope the U has learned a lesson and is committing to athletics. I think our President and AD have the insight and foresight to make us "Elite."
This is 100% the truth. I have a feeling if PJ ever leaves it will be because the U botched it. I think this is partially because the silver pony-tailed academic types might find more willing audience in a major metro area but yeah. I wouldn't be shocked if history repeats itself.
 

Plato

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Holtz was/is a nut job.
He came to MN after being kicked out of the job I believe at SC for writing a political endorsement of a hard core seg on university stationary.
ND made him redundant because no one could stand be around him anymore.
The cherry top of his sundae was getting the Medal of Freedom or whatever it is called from Trump.
He joined a bunch of other miscreants and malcontents that Trump also gave the medal to.
 

Ope3

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He came to MN after being kicked out of the job I believe at SC for writing a political endorsement of a hard core seg on university stationary.
Arkansas, not South Carolina.

Regarding the OP, I miss the use of the term "ironclad contract".
 

gopherjay

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Holz was never going to stay here no matter what. The ND job was just a couple years away and it was common knowledge he would take it when offered.
 

FredCoxRocks

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- If Lou had stayed at Minnesota...
- University of St. Thomas football
- JD Spielman transferring to Minnesota

My one wish is that these threads die with the year 2020.
 

Spaulding!No!

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This is 100% the truth. I have a feeling if PJ ever leaves it will be because the U botched it. I think this is partially because the silver pony-tailed academic types might find more willing audience in a major metro area but yeah. I wouldn't be shocked if history repeats itself.
Madison had the same problem and the Shalala came and told folks ‘get on board or hit the streets.‘
 

A_Slab_of_Bacon

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- If Lou had stayed at Minnesota...
- University of St. Thomas football
- JD Spielman transferring to Minnesota

My one wish is that these threads die with the year 2020.
The Lou stuff is old / dumb. No idea why folks want to rehash that.

The Spielman thing is fun in the sense of it being just silly to start with.
 

GopherPD

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The damage Lou Holtz did at Minnesota was long lasting. From committing to the Metrodome (the "Taj Mahal" of college football), to bailing on the program after less than 2 years, he was a complete fraud. In my lifetime most of the coaches here did more for the program than Holtz. Those coaches are Warmath, Stoll, Mason, Kill and Fleck. Worse than Holtz were Salem, Wacker and Brewster. Gutey and Claeys were assistant coaches that should have been no more than interim coaches but were elevated to the head coaching spot without a plan or a clue about being a head coach
 

Ope3

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The damage Lou Holtz did at Minnesota was long lasting. From committing to the Metrodome (the "Taj Mahal" of college football), to bailing on the program after less than 2 years, he was a complete fraud. In my lifetime most of the coaches here did more for the program than Holtz. Those coaches are Warmath, Stoll, Mason, Kill and Fleck. Worse than Holtz were Salem, Wacker and Brewster. Gutey and Claeys were assistant coaches that should have been no more than interim coaches but were elevated to the head coaching spot without a plan or a clue about being a head coach
Huh? They were already at the Metrodome 2 years prior and Memorial Stadium was still standing for several years have Holtz was in S Bend. There was pretty much zero chance they were going back to campus, Holtz or not.

In 1983 they got trucked by Nebraska by 71 points. Doughnut in the Big 10 Win category. Lost to Iowa by more than 50. The next year under Lou they beat the Hawkeyes and a decent Wisconsin team. How often does that happen?
 

#2Gopher

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- If Lou had stayed at Minnesota...
- University of St. Thomas football
- JD Spielman transferring to Minnesota

My one wish is that these threads die with the year 2020.
Agreed. Are people that bored that they have to post about the three above/
 
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