WESTVILLE — With the rhythmic repartee of a seasoned comedian, legendary football coach Lou Holtz captivated a nearly standing-room-only audience at the last presentation of the 65th season of the Sinai Forum at Purdue Northwest.
Holtz used the hour to impart through stories, examples and self-deprecating humor his “simple philosophy and simple plan” that have guided his success and the success of the teams he’s coached throughout the years.
Holtz said he likes to keep it simple.
“We complicate life, and we don’t have to,” Holtz said. “All you need is something to do, someone to love, something to believe in and something to hope for.”
The former 11-year coach of the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish shared his “three simple rules,” with personal examples from his more than three decades of coaching college football.
Holtz said he has used his philosophy with his players and in raising his four children to “raise their self-image” and ensure their success in life.
First, Holtz encouraged the audience to “do what’s right.”
“Do what’s right, and avoid what’s wrong, and if there’s any doubt, get out your Bible,” Holtz said. “The most important choice you make every day is about the attitude you’re going to have. God gave you so many powers … but the greatest power you have is the power to choose. “
Holtz said when he was fired from the University of Arkansas in 1983 without a reason, he wanted to become bitter, but his wife wouldn’t let him.
“It’s wrong to be bitter. We all have injustices done,” said Holtz. “The guy that fired me at Arkansas is the reason I got hired at Notre Dame. I ended up at Notre Dame because my wife would not let me be bitter.”
No. 2, said Holtz, is to “do everything to the best of your ability with the time allotted.”
“Stop making excuses, and start looking for solutions,” said Holtz. “Look for reasons why you can do something instead of listening to everyone tell you why you can’t.”
“Show people you care” is Holtz’s third rule, which has played a role in his family — “my greatest accomplishment by far.”
“The best advice I ever got as a father was always make sure that your children know how much you love their mother,” Holtz said. “I’ve never said a negative word to my wife or about my wife in front of my children.”
Holtz said Beth, his wife of 57 years and a cancer survivor, was once asked what she learned from having cancer.
“She said, ‘I learned how much my family loves me,’” Holtz said. “Why are all the good things said at somebody’s funeral and not while he or she is alive so they can hear it?”
Holtz closed by encouraging the audience to be guided by three important words — trust, commitment and love — words that are inscribed on the base of a statue of him at the University of Notre Dame.
“I guess they needed a place for the pigeons to land,” Holtz said.