Lou Holtz Speaks With The SEC Media

Coach Holtz spoke to the SEC Media Wednesday by telephone. He, Travelle Wharton and Dunta Robinson were unable to attend in person because of incliment weather. Not being able to be there in person did not stop Coach Holtz from answering all of the media's questions about the upcoming season ...

Head Coach Lou Holtz

"Sorry we can't be down there, pilot said no, he looked at radar and said it wasn't safe. I certainly go according to what pilot says."

"Travelle Wharton is tremendous player, our captain, has provided great leadership. Now that ends the positives on offense. Lost four of five OL from last year, Have an unproven quarterback. We have turmoil at running back, don't know what situation will be there. Lot of problems at WR."

"Lost our punter, have had inconsistent placekicking, we're going to a new defense".

"We have a lot of question marks. Like the attitude of our football team, like the way they've worked. We have a lot to prove. On paper, it's a difficult year facing us."

"But country was built on hope, there are miracles performed every day, hope one day that miracle can be us."

On 5-game losing streak.
"We lost to Arkansas which won west, LSU which second, Florida, Tennessee and Clemson. Lost to five very good football teams. Only twice did we create a turnover. We did not have an interception, had very few sacks, did not create a turnover."

"Average starting field position on offense was our 18. We played good football teams and we did not play well in certain areas."

"Our QB was great athlete and young man but not think like a QB. We had some turnovers on offense, most were interceptions. It was a combination of things, not any one thing that created problems the last half of the year."

On early draft entries
"Hate to see it. Hate to see juniors come out. If somebody does do that, be up to courts and have to address it at that time. NCAA has taken major step in improving graduation requirements. The physicalness of football, it's different than basketball, sometimes you just aren't as mature as 19 years of age as you may be for the NBA. We haven't had anybody challenge it recently. It might come up, but that's something I could not say. When we go into a home and first thing they ask is are you going to be there my four years, I say yeah, are you going to be there "my" four years. If I was a parent and had a child capable of coming out early I would certainly discourage it."

On Eiland
"Deandre great freshman year for us, when Naismith went down started last six games, had two interceptions. Played well in bowl games.Our coaches are meeting with him today, will play him at cornerback this year, feel that might be his better position. He certainly has played very well here. If we're going to be competitive he's going to have to have a fine senior year for us."

On reaching Atlanta
"Do we have the depth and can we compete week in and week out. We played Georgia and Tennessee on even keel last three years. Look at that and say can't be far away. But we haven't played Florida well, or we go up against the West. We don't do it on a consistent basis. I thought last year we would be a pretty good football team when looked at it on paper. This year look like we're a long way away. Right now looks darkest since I've been here except for first year. Just keep pounding on door and eventually sucker will break down. But got to do it week in and week out. Then the mental thing within the conference. Only been in here 10 years. Where our talent level is getting pretty good, I do worry about our mental capacity to play at a championship level each week."

"We had a good spring. We have a lot of question marks but had a good spring. Look at teams we lost to, could have won a couple of football games, but that's over, a different football team and we plan on moving on."

On minority coaching issue
"That's a decision the Ads and people like that have to make, who are the coaches available, who brings assets and experience to your program. As long as you can maintain stability in a program, the better off it is. Have to look and say who's best qualified candidate for what we have to offer. Can't say have to hire this person or that person. Lot of fine minority coaches who should be head coaches, but lot of other coaches who should be head coaches as well not getting the opportunity. Can't dictate to school say have to hire this person or that person. Would love to see a minority cocah in SEC and think it will happen."

On last year
"We had quite a few seniors (last year). Come in have 0-11 season then get to the top, people think it's going to happen automatically. Not always the leadership, it's the followers as well. Wouldn' t blame last year on the leadership of the senior class. They did an awful lot. Examined everything not to place blame but get it corrected."

On coaches scrutiny
"I haven't changed my lifestyle. I get so busy don't know where people find time to do other things. Been in profession a long time. Many coaches have reputation for going to clinics and going out, same way in any profession, 100 priests, rabbis, be people who make bad decisions in that group same thing for coaches. When people become successful they think they become invisible that nobody will see them, they think they become invincible that can do anything."

On a playoff
"You should have the bowl series as we have it now, but ought to go back to conference affiliation. With the bowl system, take the top four teams, after the bowls, then have a four-team playoff, first week in January nobody is in school anyway, the following week, classes are just starting, but you're only talking about two teams. Your situation in a bowl could change drastically if were to win a bowl game against a major opponent. Fans would be more inclined to travel, all the bowls would become very important. Then top four teams and have a two-week playoff system. Would be fair way to do it and would reward people playing best at end of year."

On realignment
"Thing we have to remember will always be changes. This was more publicized. I remember when it was Oklahoma and seven dwarfs in Big 8. My own observation. Why would Penn State go to Big 10, sitting there 90,000 seat stadium, say what happen when Joe Paterno leave and we an independent, can understand why that was good for both sides. Everybody is positioning themselves for what's going to happen with TV when 2004 season is over. Look at ACC, sitting there saying Bobby Bowden is 72, what will happen at Florida State, other than that not have a lot of TV appeal. So to position themselves for TV package, reason they did it."

"What will happen to Big East? Is there a chance Notre Dame to go there, do know this, Notre Dame always been loyal … don't really know what will happen. Think we'll see continued expansion, Wouldn't be surprised one day to see the SEC be 14-team conference. I wouldn't be opposed to that."

On Last Year
"It was disappointing."

On use of 2-way players
"With limited number of scholarships you get a great athlete you can play at WR and DB, that's a possibility of Dunta Robinson playing WR, such talented athlete good hand-eye coordination. You can use the athlete in key positions in key situations."

"But you can't play 60 minutes like that. More and more will see good, talented athletes being able to play both ways in certain situations."

On QBs
"I think very solid for future. Dondrial Pinkins started last two games on road and performed well for inexperienced, fine runner, strong arm, thinking like a QB, studying film in the summer, didn't throw an interception all of spring practice. Also a junior college quarterback Mike Rathe. An A student, I think those two really give us some solid quarterbacking and some options there. Even though our quarterback is inexperienced, I feel very confident that that won't be a major problem."

On his future
"I feel good physically, in good shape, as far as how long will coach, if you say I'll quit at such and such time you've already quit, a lot will find out with what find with my wife at Mayo Clinc. AS long as my wife is encouraging me to coach, I plan on coaching. Will coach do this thing right. My obligation is no. 1 to my faith, second to family and third to Univeristy of South Carolina. What she has told me so many times is have obligations to players, cannot foresee a cause where that would happen, I enjoy coaching, I appreciate the people at South Carolina, they've been tremendous, already sold our stadium out with season ticket sales, look on paper and you want to bury us, that's fine."

On Matthew Thomas
"Has really done everything he is supposed to do. Has fulfilled all the requirements, will meet with administration and see when restrictions will come off him. Have to get all facts in and make sure this has been done and that's been done. If has failed to follow up on one of the items would say it's not resolved. Expect an answer in the next two days."

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