Link to Official UI Press Release.
Link to Audio of Holt's News Conference in Moscow.
As the days dragged on following the story that broke last Wednesday in the Spokesman Review that Nick Holt was Idaho's top candidate, Idaho fans waited intently for an official word from the University. That official word came today in the form of a press conference at the Cowan Spectrum on the campus of the University of Idaho that Nick Holt, 41, would be the 31st coach of the Idaho Vandals.
Leading up until this day, many Idaho fans discussed on our message boards a variety of different coaching candidates. Only a few were actually confirmed candidates (TCU's Kasey Dunn and Utah's Brent Myers primarily), and several were speculative (Mike Price, Notre Dame's Bill Diederick, etc.). But among them, the candidate that gained the most universal praise, and the most anticipation of an offer, was USC's Nick Holt.
Unlike Idaho's last 2 coaches, Nick is not a former Vandal athlete. He in fact is a graduate of the University of the Pacific, where he was an All-American linebacker in '85 as a senior. A graduate of San Jose's Bellermine Prep, he didn't get his coaching start at Idaho either. He started at St. Mary's High School as an assistant coach for a year, then was picked up by UNLV to coach linebackers in '88 and '89.
Then in 1990 he joined John L. Smith's staff at the University of Idaho, where he remained for 8 years. His first 4 years were spent coaching the defensive line, his last 4 years spent as the Defensive Coordinator and linebackers coach.
In '98 he left Idaho to again join John L. Smith, this time at Louisville, where he coached linebackers for 3 years.
(Harry How/Getty Images)
|Head coach Pete Carroll of the USC Trojans (center), defensive line coach Ed Orgeron (left) and linebackers coach Nick Holt (right) look on from the sidelines during the game against the Auburn Tigers at the Los Angeles Coliseum on September 2, 2002 in Los Angeles, California. USC defeated Auburn 24-17.|
With Carroll he has built one of the country's most formidable defenses, and he hopes to repeat that development on BOTH sides of the ball when he returns to Moscow (at press-time it was still uncertain whether or not he will be coaching USC in the Rose Bowl).
Coach Holt will be inheriting a team that has undergone a significant (and much needed) improvement in defensive team speed over the past 2 seasons. He has 2 prominent starters returning on the defensive line (Talavou and Kania), a rising star at linebacker (Anderson, the team's leading tackler), an experienced defensive backfield (expecting Ruffin to return, plus Stewart, Huff, and Nathan), and finally a young, versatile athlete who started at both safety and middle linebacker (true sophomore Chad Pool, the team's #2 tackler).
Offensively, he will inherit 5 game starter at QB Michael Harrington, an offensive line with 3 players with starting experience (Therien, Tadvick, and VanderPol), and an athletic wide receiving corp returning three young 300-yard receivers (Labita, Stowe, and Octave).
There are obviously holes as well, including limited depth and experience on the interior defensive line, tightend, and at runningback.
But, what is the team's biggest concern? Junior-to-be QB Michael Harrington probably summed it up best in this quote from today's Spokesman-Review article following the Idaho news conference this afternoon, saying, "We're not lacking belief or talent. We just have to find a way to win."
Holt certainly has proven he understands this concept, at least defensively. His defensive units have typically been among the best in college football, either as a position coach or as a Coordinator. Its this proven excellence, and the intensity of his personality, that has given many Vandal fans, including the staff of this site, confidence in his hiring at Idaho.
Later this week he will announce the rest of his coaching staff, and the Holt era will begin.
NOTE: Be sure to check back here after the staff is announced for a bio of each assistant coach.