One-on-One with USF Head Coach Skip Holtz

It's a new era for USF football, and USFNation spoke in depth with the Bulls new Head coach. Read part one of our exclusive interview with USF's New Head Coach Skip Holtz who's hit the ground running.

USF Head coach Skip Holtz

What are your first thoughts?

"It's just an exciting time right now, and I'm excited to have the opportunity to be part of this program right now. I think there are a lot of positives for us to build on here, and I'm excited roll my sleeves up and climb into the middle of it, in to this fan base and student body. From an administrative standpoint, I have a lot of people to meet with this football team, we're putting the coaching staff together and there are things to get done right now, but I'm excited to be here and to do it."

What are your thoughts on leaving East Carolina?

"It was very hard and a very emotional goodbye at East Carolina. I said it was going to take a very special place to get me out of there because I felt very comfortable there, with the players we recruited and the program we built there and I think this is a very special situation here. As hard as it was to say goodbye, I knew that is what I needed to do to open this chapter that I'm extremely excited about. As emotional as it was to say goodbye, it would have been more emotional to watch that plane leave without me. I'm just happy to be here and to help build this program right now."

What's it been like since you landed in Tampa?

"It's been a whirlwind. From the minute I landed on the tarmac, to going right to the facility to meet with the football team, and then I had a staff meeting and then had an opportunity to go to a reception and get an opportunity to meet a lot of the boosters here at the program, and went to bed late around 1:00. I was at the office at six and had a staff meeting at eight, and then a meeting with the president at ten, and then was here at noon. Now I got to go back and get ready for the recruiting dinners that start tonight. It's a whirlwind but it's all positive, and there are a lot of great things going on. I know we got to roll our sleeves up and climb into this, but I can sleep when I'm dead. There's too much to get done"

What was the first thing you said to the players?

"I said a lot of things to them, but I think there is a lot of healing that needs to be done right now. I have a lot of respect for Coach Leavitt and the success that he had here and the program he built. I think he's a great football coach and he's done some great things, going to five straight bowl games and I think he's done a great job getting this program to this point for a relatively young program.

What I said to the players was this is about the future, this about where we're going, and this about my expectations, and what they can expect from me, and what I can expect from them as we go forward. I know there is some healing that needs to take place, but at the same time we need to take this adversity that's in this program and rally together as a team. This isn't about coach Leavitt's players and his recruits and Skip Holtz's recruits, it's about the University of South Florida's football team. We need to get on the same page and go in the same direction."

How do you feel about the reception you got today?

"It was awesome, and it speaks volumes about this school, and the emotion and the energy, and the excitement that's here right now. This is the arena that you want to be involved in, and I just love the excitement with the student body, and the leadership that Judy and Doug provide right now from an academic standpoint. The enthusiasm that Judy brings and the class that Doug has handled this whole process, made me even more excited about what we're doing. But all this puts the strawberry on top of the sundae so to speak. This was a great experience and shows a little bit about what the excitement and emotion that this program is all about."

What you think when you heard beat Florida?

"That's why we're here. It may be a situation where we take two steps forward and one step back, but that's the level we want to compete at. We want to build one of the better programs in the country here. And when you look at what Florida, they are on the mountain top with what they've done and are one of the better programs in the country, and that's the level we want to build this program to. It's not going to happen overnight, but it can happen at the University of South Florida."

Earlier you said you wanted to bring championships, not Big East but National championships?

"I'm not embarrassed to say we set lofty goals for ourselves, very lofty goals. But I think in order to put a fire in your belly, and to get excited and enthusiastic, you got to have a sense of purpose, you got to have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I don't think these players chose to come to USF to say they wanted to be part of something average. I think they came here because they believe in this program, and the student body, the administration, and in each other, to say let's go there and lets be part of something special, and to win championships.

It's not only about Big East championships but if you win the Big East championship, then you're on your way to compete in BCS games and national championships. That's why I'm here. We set lofty goals. Can we achieve them? I don't know. But if you shoot for the stars and hit the moon, did we fail? I have an obligation to give every one of these seniors on this football team, and that's to fulfill the dreams and visions that they had when they came here. We may not get there, but it's not going to be from the lack of effort, and we're going to do what we have to compete on the field to get to that level."

Stay tuned with USFNation.com for part two of the Skip Holtz interview!

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