FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Former Arkansas Razorback head coach Lou Holtz was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame, it was announced Thursday by the National Football Foundation (NFF). Holtz spent seven seasons (1977-83) of his 33-year coaching career as the Razorbacks’ football coach and accumulated a record of 60-21-2 during his time in Fayetteville.
“Congratulations to the fellow inductees and thanks to Steve Hatchell and the Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame,” Holtz said. “How in the world did this happen? How did I marry the wife (Beth) I married 48 years ago? We have moved 16 times in 48 years. She is a very strong woman and a Christian lady. I thank my uncle Lou and uncle Leo for their great positive inspiration and letting me play the game of football. Football teaches you about life: you persevere; you care about one another and help one another.”
Holtz is one of just three head coaches to lead Arkansas to six consecutive bowl appearances, including one of the biggest upsets in school history when Arkansas beat No. 2 Oklahoma, 31-6, in the 1978 Orange Bowl. The Razorbacks were 3-2-1 in bowl games under Holtz. As the successor to Frank Broyles as the Arkansas head coach, Holtz led the team to one of the two 11-win seasons in program history during his first season in 1977.
The Razorbacks were co-champions of the Southwest Conference in 1978 with a 7-1 mark in league play, which included a win over No. 2 Texas, 17-14, in Little Rock. It was Holtz’s first win over the Longhorns as Arkansas’ head coach. Over the span of his seven years at Arkansas, Holtz led the Razorbacks to four season-ending, top-10 Associated Press or UPI rankings (1977, 1978, 1979 and 1982).
“Woody Hayes had such a positive impact on my life,” Holtz said. “I can never thank the people from the Ohio Valley for their influence. When you don’t show up, will people ask you why? This is pretty amazing for a guy with a lisp and who finished in the lower half of his high school class. I will write letters to that 70 people I worked for and worked with for so many years tomorrow to thank them for their influence and kindness. You miss the game; I had to tell my wife that I was coming back into coaching at South Carolina. She supported me throughout, and someday I want to be known as Skip Holtz’s dad. He’s the head coach at East Carolina… I have great memories of all the schools where I coached. It isn’t all about talent; it’s about what’s inside a person, too."
Holtz is the 16th Razorback representative to be selected to the College Football Hall of Fame. He joins Hugo Bezdek (elected in 1954), Broyles (1983) and Bowden Wyatt (1997) as former Arkansas head coaches inducted. The rest of the Hall of Fame list of those who have played or coached at Arkansas include Wear Schoonover (1962), Cylde Scott (1971), Lance Alworth (1984), Johnny Majors (1987), Loyd Phillips (1992), Chuck Dicus (1999), Billy Ray Smith, Jr. (2000), Barry Switzer (2001), Doug Dickey (2003), Hayden Fry (2003), Wayne Harris (2004) and Tracy Rocker (2004).
Holtz is one of 15 inductees — 13 players and two coaches — in the 2008 College Football Hall of Fame Class, which will be inducted at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 9, 2008, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. The inductees will be enshrined in the Hall in South Bend, Ind., during ceremonies during the summer of 2009.