Lou Holtz confirmed Tuesday what most people already assumed — the former Gophers coach will not be returning to Dinkytown next season.
Holtz, who resigned after 11 seasons as Notre Dame’s head coach, said in a press conference that he was not interested in Minnesota’s coaching vacancy.
University men’s athletics director Mark Dienhart was among those not surprised by the news. Dienhart said a member of his staff talked with Holtz last week, but only to get his input on other possible coaching candidates.
“We were in contact with Coach Holtz, just like any elite coach around the country, to get suggestions and advice on who are the people we should be looking at,” Dienhart said.
“He never mentioned any interest in this position, and I can assure you he’s not leaving his Notre Dame position to take a job with the Gophers. My guess is that his attitude toward college coaching is probably `been there, done that.’ It sure doesn’t seem to me to be any kind of fit at all.”
Dienhart said he still doesn’t have an idea of who he’ll be pursuing for the Gophers job. He began the search process Nov. 12, when Coach Jim Wacker announced his resignation.
“It won’t be for some time yet because the contact with candidates will be taking place after the (regular) season is over,” Dienhart said. “So we have to get through this week, and then the formal contacts have to be made. I don’t even know all the people out there who might be interested in the position as of yet.”
The process will take a step forward Friday when the head coach search committee meets for the first time. Dienhart wouldn’t name people on the committee, but he said it consisted of representatives from the University’s academic community and one coach.
The committee will differ from other search committees, Dienhart said, because its process will be streamlined to ensure a quicker hire.
The committee will play a role in the screening, interviewing and recommendation of candidates. The men’s athletics department posted the job locally and nationally last week, and is now accepting applicants. Dienhart said he and the committee would keep their discussions confidential until they get a list of finalists.
The decision on the coach selection will be Dienhart’s, but he said he’ll be guided to some extent by what the committee wants to do.
Here come the Hawkeyes
The Gophers close out their season Saturday against Iowa at the Metrodome. Unfortunately for the Gophers, Iowa (7-3) is playing better than it has all year.
Last weekend against Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes did something that seemed impossible for the Gophers two weekends ago — they shut down the Badgers’ massive offensive line and 260-pound tailback Ron Dayne. Iowa won, 31-0.
“That huge offensive line of Wisconsin didn’t look very big Saturday,” Wacker said. “I mean, they whipped them; it’s just that simple.”
Iowa coach Hayden Fry said he thought his team played its best overall game of the year. His running back tandem of Sedrick Shaw and Tavian Banks, however, could possibly have their best game this weekend.
The Hawkeyes not only can stop the run, they can run the ball themselves. They’ve averaged 171 yards per game this year, and will be facing Minnesota’s struggling run defense, which has allowed an average of 248 yards per game.
“I’ve got an agreement going with Hayden Fry,” Wacker joked Tuesday. “If he won’t run the ball, we won’t run the ball. We’re both going to throw the ball every down and that’ll give us a much better chance.”