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Lou Holtz Coaching Tree: The Southern Cal Connection
Leprechaun Express: Notre Dame Football Intel Update Nov. 26, 2010

Here's an obscure but interesting trivia package for your football friend who knows all the angles. Years ago, when Pete Carroll claimed nobody else was willing to hire him ... (1) which head coach took in Pete Carroll as a graduate assistant (2) who was that coach's defensive coordinator, under whom Pete Carroll learned his defense that would later help launch a Southern Cal dynasty (3) who was the roughly two-year-old son of the defensive coordinator, sort of running around (4) who did they all help to win a national championship back then (5) where are they now.

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The head coach who took in Pete Carroll as a young graduate assistant was Lou Holtz. The defensive coordinator was Monte Kiffin. The two-year son of the defensive coordinator was Lane Kiffin.

The team they helped to win a national championship was Notre Dame.

They did it by coaching Arkansas to a bowl win over the previous #2 team, helping clear the way for previously #5-ranked Notre Dame to jump up to #1 and the national championship after the Fighting Irish blew out previously #1-ranked Texas in the Cotton Bowl.

Lou Holtz was the head coach at Arkansas at the time, with Monte Kiffin as his defensive coordinator, Pete Carroll a graduate assistant, and little two-year-old Lane Kiffin running around.

They all helped Notre Dame win that national title.

Years later, when Carroll was head coach at Southern Cal, he gave a presentation at a coaches clinic on Southern Cal's "4-3 Under" Defense. A Southern Cal fan site posted a transcript of the talk, in which Carroll mentioned the early days with Holtz, and how Carroll's own defense grew out of what Monte Kiffin had used at Arkansas, previously having used it to win the national title at Nebraska:

[Pete Carroll:] I have been fortunate in my career. When I started out coaching I spent three years as a graduate assistant. No one would hire me at first or even send me a rejection letter. A good friend of mine told me that there was a graduate assistant’s job open at the University of Arkansas. That was the year Lou Holtz went there as the head coach. I got the position and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

During that time I got to work with Monte Kiffin’s staff on defense. He had been at Nebraska before he came to Arkansas. I think he is one of the best coaches in the United States. He is just an unbelievable coach. He ran a 4-3 under defense that he perfected at Nebraska and they won a national title and many conference titles while he was there in the 1970’s. He brought that same defense to Arkansas. I have been running that same base defense since 1977 when I learned it from him. I have used variations of this defense my entire career. I have stayed with its principles through all my years of coaching. I have a real strong belief in this defense. I know the defense and its adjustments so well that my belief system in it is strong and rock solid.

Today, of course, Lane Kiffin is the head coach of Southern Cal, and his father Monte Kiffin is Assistant Head Coach for Southern Cal.

Pete Carroll left to join the Seahawks, just in time to avoid dealing with the aftermath of NCAA sanctions.

Lou Holtz, of course, is sitting on the lead college football panel at ESPN, where all can benefit from his wisdom and witticisms.

Holtz's name sits in the history books for helping to create three or four national titles for Notre Dame -- the consensus national title in 1988, the non-consensus national titles in 1989 and 1993 ... and the consensus national title in 1977 that he indirectly contributed to by knocking the previous #2-ranked team out of the running, with the help of some future coaches for Southern Cal.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame and Brian Kelly will be going up against part of the Lou Holtz coaching tree, it seems.

Can Dr. Lou provide some helpful advice?

(As an aside, 1977 also was one of those years that help demonstrate the absurdity of the BCS, and the absolute absurdity of BCS-kissing commentators parsing the fine points of being #2 versus #3 in BCS would-be "calculations". Notre Dame was the bona fide, undeniable national champion that year. Everybody at the top finished 11-1, Notre Dame blew out the previous #1 in the bowl game, blew out a highly-ranked Southern Cal at mid-season, and was on a winning streak having lost early in the year. Yet the bona fide national champion had only been ranked #5 in what is truly only an interim poll at the end of the regular season. And both teams ranked #1 and #2 at the end of the regular season lost their bowl games, with the previous #1 team getting blown out by the previous #5 team. The eclectic reshuffling provided by the old bowl pairings cleared the decks, and clarified things, in a way that the BCS would have obstructed. But the author digresses.)

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Keywords: Notre Dame Football, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Brian Kelly Lou Holtz, Lane Kiffin, Monte Kiffin, Pete Carroll, Southern Cal, USC, Southern California, University of Notre Dame

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More Links

:: 1977 National Championship Team: The Right Combination - und.com
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