TAMPA, FL: After USF concluded their 2012 campaign with an abysmal 27-3 loss at home to Pittsburgh and a meeting early Sunday, it was decided by President Judy Genshaft and Athletic Director Doug Woolard that it was the end of the road for 3rd year head coach Skip Holtz
When you look at the performance, it is difficult to find a reason to retain Skip Holtz. In his three-year tenure, Holtz finished with an overall record of 16-21. While that record might not sound terrible, look at it this way. In Big East play, the Bulls were 5-16 under Skip; this included two last place finishes in the conference in 2011 and 2012. The Bulls lost seven of their last eight games and 9 of their last 10 games the past two seasons.
Something went seriously wrong at some point. Skip Holtz was brought in and made out to be a savior. He had the name recognition and was coming off of an impressive run at East Carolina. It looked like this “Holtz New Era” was going to work out 17 games into his USF career, which included an 8-5 bowl winning season and a 4-0 start to the next one with a win at Notre Dame. That clearly was not the case, as we see that now. What a coincidence though, that Pittsburgh was the opponent that triggered the beginning of the end in 2011, and then ultimately became the end in 2012 for Holtz.
I had dug myself deep into the ground with the impression that Woolard and company couldn’t afford to make the decision to fire Skip. I didn’t feel he deserved to be fired. He caught some tough breaks these past couple of seasons that were out of his control. I also felt that the contract extension given after the 2011 5-7 finish would be something that could hold up a termination. Again, this was not the case. I was wrong. I give Doug Woolard credit. He told you that he made a mistake in giving Skip Holtz an extension, which is something many could have told him when the contract was extended in the first place.
Have injuries deeply affected this team? Yes. I don’t care what coach a team has, if a team loses its top two rushers, there wont be much success on offense or success overall. But it isn’t just that, when BJ Daniels went down, the team fell apart. All you heard from the outside was growing angst from players towards Holtz and the rest of the coaching staff. There was major displeasure displayed from the fan base and students as well. Some of it was deserved. Going for field goals down by three or four scores in the 4th quarter sends an awful message. The countless times where the clock was mismanaged along with a host of other issues had all added up to losses and you cant build a program like that. The football program that was once promising was crumbling before our eyes.
As I’ve thought about the move more and more, now I know this is the right move for both parties. For Skip, this is a chance to move on and start fresh somewhere else. He’s a good coach and will not struggle to find future employment. For USF, it’s a chance to start over as well. It’s a chance to get fans excited for the program again and hopefully try to get it back to what it once was, a team that was on the rise to national prominence.
Where does the University go from here? Doug Woolard said in the press conference that the search for a new leader would begin the second he left the Big East room in the Athletic Center. And it has. Reports have surfaced with a few names that USF has contacted. Those names include fan favorite Willie Taggart (HC at WKU), former UM and UNC Head Coach Butch Davis, Tommy Bowden, Jeremy Coley, and Chad Morris.
Whoever the new coach is, and whenever the decision is made, one can only hope it’s the right one. This program cannot afford another three years of mediocrity.
****To be clear, Skip Holtz was a great pleasure to cover. He was a classy person and a good coach. He always knew how to light up a room. He treated everyone with respect regardless of his or her outlet or age. And for that, as a college radio reporter, I thank him. Best of luck Skip with your future endeavors.****