Louisiana Tech Press Conference Transcript: Skip Holtz Introduces Coaching Staff


 

 

Feb. 5, 2013

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RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech head football coach Skip Holtz met with the media Monday to introduce his coaching staff and briefly commented on the whirlwind six weeks he has been on since getting hired to run the Bulldog football program.

Head Coach Skip Holtz

Opening Comments:

"A lot has happened since we last had the opportunity to talk. I guess it was about six weeks ago. An awful lot of things have transpired. Any time you start as a new head coach there are a lot of things to do, a lot of things you need to get done. You have to hire a staff. You have to get into recruiting. You have to try and find a way to meet the present team that you have."

"There were a number of recruiting dinners that I went to that I am introducing myself to our own players. They were like, `No, Coach I already committed. I'm one of us.' I was like, `Oh, well I'm glad you are here anyway' and [then I was] moving on to the next one. There are just so many people to meet and so many different things to do in the process of a new head coach."

"From a calendar standpoint, once we got hired we immediately jumped into recruiting and that has pretty much taken all of our efforts. It has been hard recruiting because you are going into eight or nine schools in the course of the day, you are trying to get to know the high school coaches, trying to start to follow up a little bit on junior recruiting and at the same time after school you are trying to do two or three home visits in the area."

"There were an awful lot of things we were trying to get done during the recruiting process and it has pretty much been 24-7 with the way we have been doing it since we have been hired."

"Now that we have been taken off the road today with today being the first part of a dead period where we are not allowed to recruit, today we met as a staff on our winter workouts, we met on our new walk-on process, we'll have a walk-on meeting today."

"We are kind of turning the page now starting a new chapter, which is the chapter about what we have to get done here on campus. First thing I had to do when I was put in place is talk a little bit about the assistants, as that is primarily what this was about."

"There are a number of things you are looking for in a staff. There are a lot of different variables you want in your staff. You have experience, age, pay scales, recruiting backgrounds; a lot of different things that go into it."

"I said in my press conference there were three things that I was looking to make sure were covered when we first got hired and putting the nine coaches together."

"One, I wanted some Louisiana Tech flavor. I wanted some Louisiana Tech backgrounds, some people who knew about the school, the traditions, the history and the winning ways that were done here was an important piece of this staff."

"I wanted Louisiana connections with people who know the state from a recruiting stand point, who have been in the state before that I thought would be very beneficial."

"And then, I wanted some people that I could put in place that I had been around and I knew were good football coaches. And, I am really excited about the group we have put together right now, and introducing the staff I guess."

"Going through it, one of the first people that I personally hired when I came in here within probably the first couple days of being here after interviewing and talking with them was Stan Eggen because I felt he brought familiarity, a Louisiana Tech background and he also brought stability in recruiting."

"To give you an idea, junior recruiting is well under way at this point, and so, when you come in January trying to build relationships, you are about 11 months behind. So, I thought it was really important for Stan Eggen to be able to carry over for some of the consistency with a number of the players that had already committed here."

"Then, I ended up hiring Jeff Koonz. Well, at that time the second person I had hired was David Gibbs. I had hired David Gibbs as the defensive coordinator, and then after meeting and interviewing and working with for about a week, I hired Jeff Koonz."

"I think he is a young coach, really energetic, enthusiastic. I think he is going to be a shining star in this business. I think he has a bright, bright future with everywhere that he has been and he just really impressed me."

"So, we hired him on defense, and then, Ronnie Bradford with the secondary and special teams. I was looking for a guy that had done it before. When you work with the defensive backs, I think one thing that is really important is experience, somebody who has played the position."

"Ronnie played for ten years in the secondary before he had an opportunity to coach and be a special teams coordinator in the NFL. I felt really fortunate to have the ability to hire him, and at the time I thought I was done on defense with those four. I put those four in place and that is kind of what each one brought to the table a little bit."

"I got started on the offensive side of the ball and Tony Petersen really excited me. He comes from one of the higher-ranked offenses in the country. He runs the same system. He has had an incredible amount of success as the coordinator at Minnesota. He played the game, not just does it coaching, but he played the game. He teaches the game. He has coordinated before and he has done it at a high level and had success everywhere he has been."

"I have known Tony a long time through connections in this business, and we have always joked saying one day we were going to work together. Well, that joke came to fruition this year because we are having the opportunity to work together."

"But, I am really excited about what he brings to the table because I do not want to change a lot of what we did offensively. There will definitely be a couple little changes, but I want to keep the basic system in place and this is exactly what Tony Petersen has run the last couple years at Marshall."

"Going down the line from there and again with a Louisiana Tech background, I started looking into some coaches that had played at Louisiana Tech. You start doing some research and find there are a number of guys out there in the coaching profession that I had the opportunity to talk to."

"The more people I talked to about Tim Rattay, the more you really start to dig in to him as a person. You cannot find any person to say a negative word about Tim Rattay. His background here, his character, the way he carries himself, the way he represented this school as a player to the NFL to playing for eight years in the NFL, and even getting in and kind of cutting his teeth in coaching in the world league or whatever that league was, the UFL, one of those leagues."

"Just talking to a number of people he worked with and how impressive they were with his work habits, because it does not always carry over from a player to a coach, I thought he really did a nice job and had a chance to interview him, brought him in here and I am really excited to add him. He will coach the outside receivers."

"I hired Joe Sloan, who played for me at East Carolina, was a graduate assistant for me at South Florida. I have been around a long time. He knows my system, he knows how I like to do things and he has always impressed me with his work habits and just his go-get-'em attitude. I think he is a great addition to the staff."

"Then, as I was looking for an offensive line coach, again, not being restrictive, but really limiting the pool for what we do as an offense. I wanted somebody that had been there before, somebody that had been in this type of system, somebody that was in the pass-pro mindset of what we had done, because that is really the thing that has made us a little unique at Louisiana Tech is the technique we use at a pass-pro standpoint."

"Matt Moore was at Middle Tennessee, he had been at Texas Tech for a long time. I hired him as the offensive line coach and the assistant head coach. I was really impressed with him and the dreams and goals he has. He wants to be a head coach one day and I think part of the allure and attraction to come here was to have the opportunity to be the assistant head coach and coach the offensive line here at Louisiana Tech."

"Jabbar Juluke was one of the guys that to me really brought some great flavor with the state of Louisiana obviously with his success at Karr High School in New Orleans."

"Going into a high school with Jabbar Juluke in New Orleans is like traveling around with Michael Jackson. It is truly a sight to see. He walks into every school he goes into, and it is not only the faculty, the teachers, the administration, but it is the students, and I have not even been in Karr High School with him yet."

"We went in all the other schools in New Orleans and I am just really impressed with what he brings to the table. I think he will do a great job. I was really impressed with the way he handles people and the way he deals with people, and that really impressed me and was one of the reasons we put him on this staff."

"So, he is going to coach the running backs with Tony (Petersen) and the quarterbacks, and with Joe Sloan and Tim Rattay at the inside and outside receivers."

"That kind of completed the offensive side of the ball. The one hole in the staff that we still have right now is the defensive coordinator."

"After David (Gibbs) had been here for a couple weeks, he had the opportunity to go back to Houston as the defensive coordinator, and his family lives in Houston. For him, it was hard for him to have to move his family, his wife and children, and this made a very smooth transition for him. There are a couple other people that had tried to hire him that he had turned down because he was going to stay here, but he just said he really could not say no to the opportunity to keep his family in Houston and not have to move."

"So, all of a sudden the defensive coordinator position opened. I have talked to a number of people, but one of the things I kept running into were coaches that wanted to wait until after signing day because of the young men that they have recruited and they wanted to be fair to the school they were at."

"Instead of trying to take them out of the pool, I made the decision to kind of slow down on the defensive coordinator position. We had Jeff Koonz working with the linebackers and Ronnie (Bradford) in the secondary and Stan (Eggen) up front, so that is something that I would imagine here in the next couple days we will have that finished and we will have that filled."

"The main thing I was trying to do right now was make sure we not short ourselves from a recruiting standpoint. As I talked about the days and what filled them up with recruiting and getting in high schools and seeing the coaches. It is very difficult to do both because every weekend, we have had a recruiting weekend where we have had a number of athletes here on campus, so I am very hopeful I can have that  position wrapped up here in the next couple days. There are certainly some excellent candidates that are out there. The two graduate assistants will remain."

"They will both be here on the staff and then with recruiting, we will get an opportunity to talk about it a little bit more on Wednesday, but I am really excited right now about the class that is starting to come together. I am real excited about it. It is starting to take shape, and with signing day on Wednesday, I think every coach is crossing every finger and every toe we have pretty much so we can get through Wednesday unscathed, because right now this recruiting class is really important to us."

"Right now, I feel really good about the young men that made the verbal commitment to be here, and we will talk a little bit more about them individually and what excites us about them Wednesday."

"So, I am trying to be as thorough and brief, but at the same time being brief is not something I am very good at. I am trying to be thorough. At least I am 50 percent. I got one of the two. What questions can I answer for anybody? What questions could I take?"

On the biggest challenge since taking the head coaching job at LA Tech:

"I think with the recruiting part of it is being behind; not having just a recruiting list, but you are behind. Players and parents all talk about the relationship. As a head coach you only get one visit anyway off-campus."

"You are only allowed to see a young man one time, so it is hard in that one meeting to fill a year's worth of time and have them get to a point where they feel comfortable with you. It is easy trying to get to know them, but having that solid foundation and relationship when it becomes decision-making time. That is probably one of the biggest challenges we have had recruiting wise.

"The biggest challenge I think we have right now is getting to know our team and not knowing what we have. We are our recruiting without knowing how good our defensive backs are. We have not been out on the field with them yet."

"How good is our offensive line? Well, four of them just graduated. I can tell you one. I can tell you the right guard because I have seen him on film. The rest of them who you do not have a lot of film on, there is a big unknown, and that is probably the biggest transitional piece right now from us as a staff is just having the opportunity to get to know our players and what their strengths and weaknesses are so we can build our offense and defense around those strengths and weaknesses."

"So, I am really looking forward to it. We met this morning for about four hours as a staff. We have our first winter workout today where this is going to be the first opportunity. Later this afternoon, we will get a chance to get out on the grass with our players."

"At the winter workout, obviously you are not allowed to have a football there, but you can do agility-type drills, with your team and we will start to put it together a little bit more, because right now, the only evaluation we have is the eyeball test and what they look like when they walk through the door. I am looking forward to getting out on the grass with them later this afternoon."

On the lack of coaching experience for some of the staff:

"Well, a little bit of both. Obviously you do not want a whole team as I have talked about all the different variables you look for in a staff. You want some of those younger guys that are hungry; that are go-getters. There is obviously a difference in pay and you have to be able to make a staff salary. You have to hit your staff salary pool."

"I think what you are looking for in those young guys, I say young, but new guys, inexperienced guys, I think you are looking for somebody that truly has a desire to be here. I think you are looking for somebody that has that hunger, that passion, and wants to get on the road and start recruiting."

"Every coach you hire is not going to be a 32-year seasoned vet that you hire to be your coordinator. You are looking for guys that offset that dynamic, because you do not want a lot of young guys, but you do not want a lot of old guys either."

"I have found that those young guys are normally the guys that are your recruiters, your go-getters; the guys that are on planes, trains and automobiles to get to where they have to go to see all the players. They relate extremely well with players, so with each one of them you can sit down and talk about it."

"Even though Joe Sloan is inexperienced, it is not his first time around the game. He played the game. I am very familiar with him. I know him as a person, his character and what type of young man he is. Having had him be a graduate assistant for me for three years, he has been around it. He knows how the system works. He knows how we want to do recruiting and can organize that. He brings an awful lot of experience even though this is his very first job."

"Tim Rattay; you can say the same thing with all those backgrounds and being at Louisiana Tech and playing the game for ten years. He is not fresh out of college. Even though he is considered an inexperienced coach, I think playing the game for eight years, especially at the quarterback position in the National Football League, says something about his knowledge of the game."

"He is extremely intelligent on the game of football. He has been around it, and as I said, I do not know anybody that brings more character to Louisiana Tech than what he does and the way he has represented this."

"With Jabbar (Juluke), it is the same thing. Even though he is a new coach, he has been a high school coach. He has run his own program. He has coached the offensive line and the defensive line."

"But as I said earlier, the biggest asset to me when I interviewed Jabbar Juluke was his relationships with people. Watching him interact with people, take his players up under his arm, hold them accountable, make sure they do everything the right way; I think that is one of the things when you look at what he has done as a high school football coach in New Orleans. I think everybody you talk to; just unbelievably glowing reports about Jabbar Juluke; the type of man he is, the type of person he is. What everybody says is the type of ambassador he has been for Karr High School and the job he does with the young men that play for him."

"Even though there are three inexperienced coaches, I think they all have a lot of experience in their own rights."

On what he expects from spring practice in the month of March:

"Going one step further, I think the month of February and the six weeks before we have to go out on the grass, I think these winter workouts are going to be critical just to see where we are and what we have."

"You are out recruiting not really knowing what your biggest needs are on a football team, and that is where having some stability with a Jeff Koonz and Stan Eggen help you a little bit because they can tell you a little bit about it, and also Damon (Harrington) in the weight room can tell you about their strengths and weaknesses."

"I think us learning for ourselves what our players can do by position out on that field agility-wise; we will get a much better picture of what we are walking into with spring practice."

"Once we do start spring practice and start implementing the offensive and defensive schemes, I think there are two things that are going to go with that. One, we have to get them not just taught, but get them to master it. The other thing with being a new staff is I think if you are ever going to make a mistake, you want to err on the side of not doing enough more than doing too much, because when you hit that, they start being robotical and they are not 100 percent sure what they are doing."

"We are going to start with a skeleton offense and defense and put it in and make sure we can get our staples down; make sure we have the offensive and defensive calls to run. By the time we get to the fall, we will get a little bit more exotic with some of the different things we are doing, but we have to make sure we have our staples down and what our nuts and bolts are going to be. But, yes, it is going to be critical."

On the drawback of not having a defensive standpoint from a recruiting standpoint:

"No, at this point, I know what I want to do defensively. I know what I want to do. I am trying to find the coordinator that is going to fit that, and that is why we can still talk about what we are looking to do and how we are looking to do it."

"When you look at the conference that we are in, it is very hard to say we are going to be just a 4-3, because as soon as the formation starts, the 4-3 is gone. Whether you are going to call it a 4-2-5, a 4-3 or play a nickel personnel, a lot of that depends on what the offense is doing as well."

"I do not think it has been a hindrance at this point from a recruiting standpoint. Nobody has told me no because they do not know who the defensive coordinator is. I have not had that situation at all."

"Having Ronnie Bradford as the secondary coach, Jeff Koonz as a linebacker coach and with Stan Eggen, all the positions are covered. It is not like a young man is saying, "I don't know who my position coach is." I would think that would be a very hard sell to bring a young man in here when he does not know who is going to coach him."

On the coaching staff coming together and building chemistry with one another:

"I think part of that starts in the hiring process with making sure you are bringing good people here that are going to get along with everybody. As you are doing your research and making your calls on different people you are looking at, staff chemistry is a question you ask. What is he like with the staff? Is he a chemistry guy? Does he get along with everybody? Is he part of the team? Is he a loner? That is part of what you try to recruit to as well."

"But, right now it is more just trying to mold everybody together. This morning we were in there for about four hours as a staff, our first really long staff meeting where we were trying to cover everything with winter workouts, walk-ons, spring practice, signing day and trying to get everything together. We will do it again tomorrow morning."

"We have probably another four hours slated for tomorrow morning where we are going to cover every member of our team; where they are academically, injury-wise, weight-room effort. Like I said, the biggest challenge we have right now is getting to know our players."

On Matt Moore's familiarity with the previous offensive scheme:

"When you look at not only the knowledge of him knowing the offense and being in the offense, but also coaching at Texas Tech where he taught the offense. That was one of the things that made him one of the leading candidates."

"As I talked to Rick Stockstill and everybody that had worked with him, they were all very complimentary of him as a person, as a coach, as a staff chemistry guy. The more you dug into it, the more excited I got that it could be an opportunity for us. I think he has turned out to be a tremendous recruiter, but I think the things that you talked about were my first attraction."

"You whittle the pool down in a hurry to say, "Who are the guys that have been in this offense, taught this offense and coached this offense?" And that has started your staff salary pool, and Matt Moore was one of the first ones who kind of came to mind and I pursued."

On recruiting locally along I-20:

"We have talked about it and our home area has to be I-20. We have to dig our heels in Shreveport/Bossier and Monroe. There is some great football played along this I-20 corridor up here in the northern part of the state."

"When you talk about it, the way I see it is there is the I-20 corridor and the I-10 corridor, and that is really what constitutes the strongest football schools in the state. There are a lot of schools down on I-10, but I think this is home."

"It is the closest area, but I was really impressed going in and out of these high schools along this northern corridor. I spent two days over in Shreveport going in and out of high schools and doing those home visits in the evening, but when you look at the programs in this state that are in the playoffs and competing every year, there are a number of them from Shreveport and from Monroe. I think they are some of the stronger programs in the state."

"I think this is where it needs to start. This is where we need to dig our heels in, know everything about them, get on them early and start recruiting them early. I am really excited about junior recruiting. As I said a minute ago, that has already started with the letters going out and emails going out. That has all started for next year trying to identify the guys that are going to be difference makers."

"I think every year there is going to be guys that come out of both Shreveport/Bossier and the Monroe area. This is where we have to start. This is where we have to make home."

"There was one young man we are recruiting that is from this I-20 corridor that was not recruited by the previous staff. That is not right, wrong, good or bad, but I do not think that can happen in the future. In the future, I think we have to make this home. We have to know everything about every player on the corridor."

On Jabbar Juluke recruiting on I-10 and how that will impact signing day:

"We are going to recruit the whole state. The I-10 corridor is the huge population mass when you look at this state going across that way. That is where a Jabbar Juluke does bring an awful lot because he brings knowledge of New Orleans and the schools down there and the relationships he has with coaches. I think he is going to make and has made a huge impact. I do not know if that is going to result in 20 guys signing, but when you look at the athletes that he is recruiting out of New Orleans, he is recruiting some people that have a chance to be difference makers.

On whether Jabar Juluke is more popular in New Orleans than Tim Rattay in Ruston:

"It would be a competitive race between those two. Both of them are like traveling with rock stars, so I think both of them. Either one of them, when you walk into a school with them, it is like, "I'm with them." But, I think both of them have not only great names and reputations, but they have earned them. They are great people and they earned those reputations. They are well thought of in those areas."

"I think it is really neat to see the admiration and respect people have for two guys like that in their home areas. I think that is a real compliment to both Tim (Rattay) and Jabbar (Juluke), the way they have lived their lives and the difference they have made in people's lives, that people have that kind of respect for them."

On whether Jabbar (Juluke) knows everybody in the city of New Orleans:

"I probably should not put this title on him, but I call Jabbar the sewer rat because he knows where everything in that city is. He knows everybody in that city. Like I said, from administration to teachers, all the faculty and students, to the women working behind the desk when you walk in who jumps up and gives him a hug; it is just really impressive to see the way people embrace him in that community. He knows pretty much everybody down there. I think the coaches down there have great respect for him because they have great respect for how his teams play, the way his players compete and he did it with class."

On whether he has caught on with the language:

"Not yet. I can learn it. I cannot speak it. I can understand it. I cannot speak it."

On the recruiting process when making official visits as a new head coach:

"You are not just going in and selling. It is not like you sit down and say, "Let's talk about a couple things. I want to talk about academics." You have to have a bonding time in there."

"You cannot walk in the first time you are meeting mom and sit down and start selling. We are not used car salesmen. If we go in with the mindset that we just have a presentation that we have to present for the hour we are in the home, I think you are going to lose a lot of people."

"I think you have to have the opportunity to get in the home, get to know them, find out where they are from, what their background is, what they do for a living. You have to start to form the relationship rather than sit down and sell Louisiana Tech. You have to sell yourself first, and then you have to get to know the people in the home you are sitting in."

On opening the conference schedule in 2013 against Tulane:

"I love geographical rivalries. I love them because it is not only going to be our fan base, but it is going to be their fan base. Everybody is passionate about it because this is a debate that will go on at the water cooler at work. It will go on at the restaurants when people are out eating. I think there will be a lot of jabbering, a lot of talk. There will be a lot of excitement and energy."

"Obviously, that is a huge game for us, not only because it kicks off Conference-USA and our conference race, but it is an in-state game right down the corridor. We battle them in recruiting. We are going to have the opportunity to play them on the field."

"I think just being a couple hours away is going to create some excitement, but I am excited about that game. From my understanding, it will be the only year that we have the opportunity to play them because after this year they will be leaving the conference. It will be kind of a one-and-done game that we are going to play here in Ruston, but I am really excited about having the opportunity to play them."

"I think for our fan base, it will create a lot more excitement and energy than somebody might have from the west coast in some of the games we have had to play in the past. I think Southern Miss will have that same type of geographical rivalry to it as well, and we get to play both of those at home."

On being seen at basketball games in the Ruston community:

"They are having a great year. Compliments to Coach White and his team. I am not there for that reason. I am there because I want to support the basketball program. I will be at baseball games. I want to support baseball and women's basketball games. I have been out to eat here in the Ruston area."

"This is the community we are going to live in. This will be home. I want to be involved in the community. I am not going to live in an ivory tower. I want to be involved. I want to active. I love going to sporting events."

"Like I said, I have really enjoyed watching that basketball team because I think they have gotten a lot better from when I first saw them in December to the way they are playing right now. I think they are really improving as a basketball team, and I think [Coach White] has done a great job."

"So, I am not there for those reasons. I am there because it is the community I live in and I want to be involved with it. For me, it has been great."

"I grew up in a town that was very similar to this. We did not have I-20 running through the middle of it, but a town very similar to this in Fayetteville, Ark. There were about 25,000 people when I lived there, one high school just like Ruston High School and a university there at the time at Arkansas with 13-14,000 students. For me, this is very comfortable. I like this. This is how I grew up."

On a seat upgrade at the basketball games:

"I may need one of those. I enjoy standing because I cannot sit still, so I stand there under the basketball goal. I have a hard time sitting still and just watching the game."

On the move to Conference-USA from the WAC:

"This is a different league than we coached in three, four years ago. All the conferences have had some incredible changes and it is a constantly evolving situation with the conferences and allegiances with where everybody is going."

"I think having the opportunity to play in the conference that we are, especially being placed in the west division, I think is huge for our fans when you look at Dallas is four hours away and you start talking about your trips are no longer to the west coast four times. You are going to have bus trips and all of a sudden you are going to have the opportunity to bus to a Southern Miss, North Texas or to Rice."

"For me, I would much rather take a bus trip than I would a plane trip because it also means that for our fans, they are going to have the opportunity to travel to the away games as well as come to the home games. I think that is something that they have not had that opportunity for the last number of years that we have been in the WAC conference."

"I think the distance and frequent flyer miles will probably be the biggest difference. I think it will be a huge boost for our fans. It will create some geographical rivalries and I am excited about being in the west division."

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