Redskins

South Florida fires Skip Holtz after 3 seasons

201212012115765520214-p2.jpeg

South Florida fires Skip Holtz after 3 seasons

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Skip Holtz was fired as South Florida's football coach after two straight losing seasons in which the program fell back instead of progressed.

Athletic director Doug Woolard made the announcement Sunday after meeting with Holtz individually and then accompanying the former coach to a gathering with players. A search for a replacement will begin immediately, with no definitive timetable for naming the successor.

``It was a very difficult meeting and one I will tell you that Skip handled very professionally and very classy as he always does,'' Woolard said during a news conference.

``It was a matter of just not having the production that we needed to have over the last couple of years on the field. ... Every program experiences highs and lows on the way to national prominence,'' Woolard added. ``Brighter days are ahead.''

The son of former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz went 16-21 at the Big East school, concluding a three-year run with the worst season in school history. The Bulls lost nine of 10 to finish 3-9, 1-6 in the conference, following a 2-0 start.

The firing came a year after Holtz was given a contract extension through 2017 despite going 5-7 in his second season. He will receive a $2.5 million buyout paid over five years.

In a statement released by USF, Holtz thanked his assistant coaches and players for their dedication and loyalty.

``I'm extremely proud of how they fought through adversity during this time. Throughout my time here the young men on this team never gave up, and that reflects on their character as individuals and as a team,'' Holtz said.

``I believe we made some positive strides, most notably in our academics, that were helping to build a foundation for this program and I would have liked the opportunity to see it through,'' the coach added. ``But I understand the administration's decision and wish them nothing but success in the future.''

Holtz inherited a program that Jim Leavitt built from scratch, signing a $9.1 million, five-year contract in January 2010 after Leavitt was fired for mistreating a player who had accused the former coach of grabbing him by the throat and slapping him in the face during halftime of a game.

The 48-year-old Holtz came to USF from East Carolina, where he had guided the Pirates to a pair of Conference USA championships. He welcomed the challenge of stepping into the Big East and trying to transform the Bulls, ranked as high as No. 2 in the country in 2007, into an elite program.

But it did not happen.

The Bulls went 8-5 and appeared in a bowl game for the sixth consecutive season two years ago, but a pattern of underachieving that actually began under Leavitt returned in 2011, when USF won four straight to climb into the Top 25 only to drop seven of eight down the stretch and tumble to the bottom of the conference.

USF has lost 14 of its past 16 against Big East opponents and were 5-16 overall in league play under Holtz, who stated boldly after taking the job: ``We can win conference championships here. We can win national championships here.''

The dismissal came the day after the Bulls concluded with a 27-3 loss to Pittsburgh. Holtz said afterward that he hoped to retain his job, reiterating that the program had made strides under his direction, including academics, that weren't necessarily reflected in the win-loss record.

Woolard acknowledged as much, lauding the fired coach for setting a ``new USF standard for team GPA'' and working tirelessly to ``mold our football players into outstanding young men.''

``However my responsibility ... is clear,'' Woolard added. ``We must strive to put a more successful football program on the field.''

Injuries hurt this year's team, particularly on offense, where the Bulls lost quarterback B.J. Daniels, No. 3 on the Big East's career total yardage list, and red-shirt freshman Matt Floyd started the last two games. By the end of Saturday's loss, tight end/emergency backup QB Evan Landi was playing.

Pitt limited the Bulls to a USF record-low 117 yards, including 8 rushing. The offense scored one touchdown in the final 15 quarters of the season and USF was outscored 94-22 in the final three games of the season.

Holtz is 88-71 overall in 13 seasons at Connecticut, East Carolina and USF.

Quick Links

Former Redskins CB Shawn Springs wouldn't mind a red, white and blue color scheme with new name

Former Redskins CB Shawn Springs wouldn't mind a red, white and blue color scheme with new name

Over the next few days, and in the spirit of a Presidential election year, NBC Sports Washington is polling ex-Redskins players and NFLers who grew up in the DMV for their thoughts on the burgundy-and-gold's pending name change - and what name THEY would like to see.  

With the Redskins officially reviewing their name for a seemingly imminent change, suggestions from fans have poured in. 

Not only do you see name ideas like the "Washington Red Tails" or "Washington Warriors", but nowadays you see logo mockups, uniform designs and new color schemes to go along with them. With almost too many to choose, former Washington all-pro cornerback Shawn Springs highlighted the best suggestions he's seen.

"I like the Washington Warriors or the Senators," Springs told NBC Sports Washington. "With the Senators, you have the Capitals and Nationals, so you can keep that theme in DC."

Springs, a Silver Spring native, played in Washington from 2004-to-08, tallying 12 interceptions, 250 tackles and 52 passes defended. He seemed to like the idea of including the Redskins in the nation's capital theme, especially if it meant changing the team's color scheme to match every other pro team in the city.

"I like the fact that the Nats, Wizards [and Capitals] all wear red white and blue," he said. "I think that'd be a real cool thing for DC. And hell, both the [Nationals and Capitals] won. I just like something that's gonna give you a theme with the rest of the teams [in DC]."

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO SPORTS UNCOVERED

Washington's controversial name could be seen as divisive for the city's sports fans, so what better way to unite everyone than every team sharing the same color scheme. Pittsburgh is the only other city whose pro sports teams (Penguins, Steelers, Pirates) use the same color scheme, and it certainly works for them. 

One obstacle going with the Senators would be the fact that the name belonged to the city's baseball team from 1901-1960 and again as an expansion team from 1961 to 1971. But Senators 1.0 moved to Minnesota to become the Twins and Senators 2.0 left quickly for Texas to become the Rangers. Baseball has since returned to DC and the Nationals couldn't be a better name for the franchise. Why not bring "Senators" back in a different sport?

RELATED: COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF REDSKINS FAN-GENERATED NEW NAMES

You can recapture some of the town's sports history and perhaps even recycle some of the logo/uniform concepts they used years ago. Not to mention how cool it'd be for a Walter Johnson jersey to become appropriate attire at an NFL game.

Whatever the team's name ends up being, this whole saga has bred a ton of creativity and done a lot of heavy lifting for everyone set to choose new fantasy football team names this year.

Stay connected with the Redskins in the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE TEAM NAME NEWS:

Quick Links

Ex-Redskins CB Fred Smoot says team officials like 'two or three' replacement names

Ex-Redskins CB Fred Smoot says team officials like 'two or three' replacement names

Over the next few days, and in the spirit of a Presidential election year, NBC Sports Washington is polling ex-Redskins players and NFLers who grew up in the DMV for their thoughts on the burgundy-and-gold's pending name change - and what name THEY would like to see.  

The Washington Redskins released a statement on Friday announcing they are undergoing a "thorough review" of the team name after major corporate sponsors FedEx, Nike, PepsiCo, and others put pressure on the organization to change the mascot.

At this point, a name change seems inevitable. So, what will the team's new moniker be?

Former Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot told NBC Sports Washington on Sunday that the team's top decision makers, especially owner Dan Snyder, have a few prime candidates that stand out.

"What I'm hearing from Redskins Park, there are already two or three names that they like," Smoot said. "That tells you that Dan has already been working towards it."

Over the past few days, several potential name replacements have surfaced, with the Warriors, Redtails, and Redhawks being the most popular. For Smoot, 'Warriors' would be the easiest transition.

"Me, in my head, Warriors is the one that sticks out the most," Smoot said. "I think it's an easy transition. There are no Warriors in the NFL. It's already a mascot for Golden State, and they've gotten no pushback on it."

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE REDSKINS TALK PODCAST

The name 'Warriors' also allows the team to honor Native Americans, something Smoot said Snyder wants to do.

"At the end of the day, besides Warriors, I know Redtails is up there," Smoot said. "But [Synder] said something that stuck out to me: he wants to keep the logo and acknowledge Native Americans, give them something that they're proud of. So that tells me that it won't be Redtails."

While 'Warriors' might be the easiest transition for the franchise, Smoot offered a few of his own suggestions. And they were quite creative.

"If you're going for a total re-brand, you can go Red Wolves," Smoot said. "I've never heard anybody say anything about that. The Wolf is almost a spirit animal for Native Americans. I think the Red Wolves would be one of those things that I heard nobody say that I think would be a great one. I can just see FedEx Field and the 80,000 people just howling like Wolves. That would really be something."

Plus, the cornerback mentioned that Snyder does not want to change the colors or the team's current logo.

"If you get a name like the 'Americans' or 'Red Wolves,' you don't have to change the brand," Smoot said. "Whenever 'Redskins' is, you're just taking the name off. [Snyder] already said he's keeping the colors. He's keeping the logo. Now, it's just changing the name."

RELATED: LIST OF REDSKINS FAN-GENERATED NEW NAMES

Outside of the Red Wolves, Smoot also had a few other...um....out-of-the-box suggestions.

"I have another one that's off the edge, because you know I'm an edgy guy," Smoot said. "This one, you're pretty much going to laugh at. What about the Washington District of Columbia?"

Additionally, Smoot suggested the Redskins could take the mascot of one prominent college athletics program - or also change the name to something that would honor the team's own history.

"If you're going for a total re-brand, there are so many different animals that haven't been used," Smoot said. "We could be the Washington Wolverines. But I don't think [Snyder] wants a total re-brand. I think we could be the Washington Pigskins. Just put the Pig in front of [Skins]. We're already connected to the Hog."

Stay connected with the Redskins in the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE TEAM NAME NEWS: