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Dual Threat: Notre Dame Coaches As Authors

Marty Schroeder | Friday, December 1, 2006

Two of the most recent and most prominent Notre Dame coaches, Lou Holtz and Charlie Weis, are also published authors. They have written on an array of topics from discussions of their own lives, their goals and careers as coaches and general life strategies. Both men are considered morally upstanding, and their books have done well on the market.

One of Lou Holtz’s earlier books is “Winning Every Day: The Game Plan for Success.” Published in 1999, this book is equal parts football and life lessons. Using strategies that Holtz has learned being a football coach for a top tier program, he discusses how to use those strategies in everyday life.

Finding focus and commitment to tasks is similar to attacking an opposing team on the gridiron. Summing up the goal and themes of the book, Holtz says, “Your talent determines what you can do. Your motivation determines how much you are willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it.”

In “Winning Every Day,” Holtz discusses his rags-to-riches past, from growing up in a poor river town and having nothing to becoming coach at one of the most revered academic and athletic institutions in the nation – and his ensuing success in this capacity. He outlines what he calls his “WIN” strategy (“What’s Important Now”). For the person struggling in a new job, a new residence situation or any other difficult life situation, this is a book from a guy that has seen just about everything.

In 2006, Holtz decided to write an autobiography, and “Wins, Losses, and Lessons: An Autobiography” was the end product. Coming from the man who is the only coach to lead six different college football teams to a bowl game, the winner of the Coach of the Year award three times and the ninth winningest college football coach of all time, this promises to offer an inside look into an interesting life.

How did a 135-pound, rail-thin man become one of the best coaches in college football history? How did a man – in his own words – write a book when many expected him never to read one? The answers and the struggles can be found in the pages of this autobiography. The message this book conveys is that being a moral persom and a well-educated person is ultimately more important that being a good football player. Although Holtz earnestly cared about the game, it never became more important than his relationship to his players, his family and God.

Alongside books written for an older readership, Holtz also wrote a book for pre-teens and teens. “A Teen’s Game Plan for Life” promises to offer moral guidance in a style suited to a younger crowd. Promoting those values closest to Holtz such as loyalty, clean living and a commitment to God, this book has been very successful with younger readers. Holtz has a particular expertise in guiding young minds, thanks to his career as a college football coach. His goal of molding boys into men can be applied to the lives of other young readers.

Alongside Holtz stands the future of Notre Dame football – Charlie Weis. Never one to be outdone, Weis has just released his first book co-authored with Vic Carucci, entitled “No Excuses: One Man’s Incredible Rise Through the NFL to Head Coach of Notre Dame.” The title itself is evidence of Weis’ allegiance to the University. To consider it a rise from the NFL to Notre Dame is an example of how much Notre Dame means to Weis. Granted, he may have had nothing to do with the title, but it is interesting nonetheless.

This book follows Weis’ career from coaching high school in New Jersey to coaching at Notre Dame. During the interlude, Weis had a successful tenure as an NFL coach. First coaching under Bill Parcells as the defensive assistant and assistant special teams coach with the New York Giants, Weis began accumulating the knowledge needed to be successful. He won the first of his four Super Bowl rings that year as the Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills.

When Parcells left the Giants for the New England Patriots, Weis followed and became the tight ends coach for two years, the running backs coach for one year and the wide receivers coach for one year. Weis then followed Parcells to coach the New York Jets where he became offensive coordinator. Parcells decided to retire in 1999 and Weis was hired by Bill Belichick as the offensive coordinator. Here he won three Super Bowls until finally landing in South Bend as the Notre Dame head coach on Nov. 30, 2004.

This book also explores Weis’ personal life and discusses issues he has had with his weight and his family life. He discusses the relationship he has with his best friend and wife, Maura, his “best buddy and son,” Charlie Jr., and his “guiding angel” and daughter, Hannah. Weis and his wife have started a foundation called Hannah & Friends, which helps families with special needs children.

These two coaches have gone through many hardships that most people have not experienced and their lives provide excellent examples of how to face hardship and succeed. From Holtz’s stories growing up in a poor family to Weis’ experiences raising a special needs child, everyone can find some inspiration in his or her life. The books are not the men themselves, but it is a way to find a part of them outside of the coaching careers they are most known for.