Holtz Statue is Unveiled Prior to Michigan Game

In many ways, Lou Holtz is the perfect face of Notre Dame football. Much like the program itself, nearly every college football fan has an opinion of him, positive or otherwise.

From the diminutive size to the endless enthusiasm to the much-imitated voice and mannerisms, Coach Holtz is truly one of a kind.

And, until someone else accomplishes the feat, he’s the last coach to lead Notre Dame to a national football championship.

All that will be celebrated this weekend, when a statue of Holtz is unveiled at Notre Dame Stadium. The coach is being honored for his recent election to the College Football Hall of Fame, and his 1988 championship team is gathering for its 20th reunion.

The dedication ceremony is set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, September 13, at Gate D of the stadium. Representing Holtz’ players will be 1987 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown, along with Chris Zorich, Pat Terrell and Ned Bolcar. Also speaking will be university president Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., and director of athletics Jack Swarbrick.

The sculpture depicts Holtz calling a play from the sidelines, with two Irish players alongside him. It is the work of Jerry McKenna, an ND graduate who also sculpted the Frank Leahy sculpture on the stadium’s east side and the Ara Parseghian sculpture unveiled last season, also at the Gate D site.

Leahy and Parseghian will also be honored this season, as Notre Dame celebrates its five coaches who led teams to consensus national championships. Parseghian will be feted the weekend of the Stanford game (Oct. 4). Relatives will represent Leahy (Nov. 1), Dan Devine (Sept. 27) and Knute Rockne (Nov. 22) on those respective weekends.

Holtz is scheduled to speak at Friday night’s pep rally prior to Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. game against rival Michigan, and will be honored at halftime for his Hall of Fame career.

Holtz coached the Irish for 11 seasons (1986-96) and finished with a record of 100-32-2. He is first among Irish coaches in games coached and second to Rockne in victories. He coached Notre Dame to appearances in New Year’s Day bowl games nine straight years (1987-95).

At 20 years, the current stretch without a national title is the longest in program history since the first crown was achieved in 1924. The next longest wait was 17 years, between 1949 and 1966. To put it in perspective, since the 1988 team went 12-0 and finished No. 1, its young defensive coordinator Barry Alvarez left to take over a moribund Wisconsin program, completely rebuilt it and won three Big 10 titles and three Rose Bowls, and retired from coaching to take over the athletic director’s chair.