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Wins, Losses, and Lessons: An Autobiography Paperback – July 31, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With a strong overtone of moral teaching, college football coaching legend Holtz offers a prosaic but endearing memoir. It's clear from the beginning that Holtz sees coaching as nurturing more than mere athletic achievement; it's an opportunity to mold promising student-athletes into superlative young men: "Coaching gives one a chance to be successful as well as significant." Holtz grew up in a hardscrabble West Virginia mining town in the 1940s and '50s, keeping a determinedly working-class and strictly religious attitude no matter how high he climbed as a coach. His stories of assistant and then head coaching at institutions from Ohio State to North Carolina State—as well as run-ins with big names like Bill Cowherand Bill Clinton—are full of funny anecdotes and neat little lessons, but they tend to blur in the mind. A standout is Holtz's long-term position at Notre Dame, of special importance not just because of his devout Catholicism but also his refreshing devotion to strict academic standards for the players. In fact, what stands out is his modesty and adamant belief that football is ultimately less important than education. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Holtz was one of the most successful major college football coaches in the last quarter of the twentieth century and beyond. He was head coach at Notre Dame, Minnesota, and South Carolina, among others schools. In this typical coachography, Holtz recounts his difficult post-WWII youth, thanks all who helped him along the way, and then settles into recounting the itinerant life of a gypsy football coach. He moved many times as an assistant, sometimes seeking a better spot as a career move, sometimes because he was part of a staff let go in a head-coaching change. He's funny, has a nice sense of timing when he relates a humorous anecdote, and doesn't seem to take himself too seriously. In fact, he emphasizes that the wins and losses don't really matter, but he hopes he'll be remembered as having played a significant role in the lives of those around him. Holtz comes across as a nice man; his story makes a pleasant reading experience for football fans; and his reputation will generate interest. Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Entertainment; Reprint edition (July 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060840811
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060840815
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dennis Phillips on November 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Lou Holtz is an incredible man who always makes me think of the parable of the men and their talents. Coach Holtz grew up poor and when he grew up he was short and skinny with a speech impediment. Short and skinny are not adjectives that are usually used to describe football players but through pure grit and determination Lou Holtz played college football. A speech impediment is not a condition normally associated with a head coach, motivational speaker or TV analogist but once again through grit and determination and with a great deal of heart and intelligence Lou Holtz has conquered all three of these professions. His is a story that needed to be told and thankfully he has done just that.

This book is sort of a combination of genres and is hard to categorize. It is a book about football, it is a motivational book, it is a history book, and it is an autobiography. Holtz takes his readers through his life from his impoverished childhood to his retirement to an "embarrassingly big" home in Orlando and he does so in such an engaging manner that this is about the most fun I have ever had reading a non-fiction book. As the title suggests, Holtz talks about the wins and losses he has faced both in football and in life and along the way he engages in his favorite activity, which is teaching. That is where the lessons come in and this man can make his point in a way that few other authors can. He is extremely adept at using humor, often self-depredating, to make his point and there are many valuable lessons that can be learned by reading this book.

It is often said that behind every great man is a great woman and we get to meet that woman in this book. Beth Holtz is a remarkable woman and the love story that is Mr. And Mrs. Lou Holtz is one of the most touching aspects of this book.
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Format: Hardcover
In this autobiography we come to understand the making of a champion.

Coach Holtz shares very personal stories, and his feelings about them, about his childhood, college years, and coaching years at several schools. While he clearly loves Notre Dame, he also has great affection for the players, fans, and friends of all the places he coached. ND fans will love this book, and so will fans of Ohio State, William & Mary, Arkansas, Minnesota, North Carolina State, and South Carolina.

Coach Holtz shares insight into many adversities, which helped make him a champion in football and life. The reader gets the feeling if this skinny-lisping-poor kid (as he describes himself), whom no one thought would amount to much, could be so successful, I could too.

His style is simple, easy to understand, humorous, and engaging--just like the man. The book reads like a story, not a business or leadership manual. Several football games are recounted but only briefly, not enough to annoy non-football fans.

If you are a parent raising kids, this book will provide great comfort in your choice to discipline your children. Lou talks in a non-condescending way about lack of discipline, kids running the households, and parental duties being pushed off to the schools. A great disservice for kids today is they are being sheltered from adversity rather than being taught to rise from it. Then, they go to college and are unprepared for reality when they enter the workforce. If you've been in the work world for any number of years, you've seen those kids. Parents who want to raise well adjusted adults could benefit from Lou's perspective on discipline.
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Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book. Lou does a great job of keeping the book flowing and there was a remarkable amount of detail about his various coaching assignments. I especially like the way he focused on his family issues and his moral compass for always doing the right thing. I think he would have been a great coach to play for. It was a great read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The tv shows, the winning records, are nothing without the life story behind the person and those they've been able to touch. Tribute to a great life and a great personality. I never knew about his wife's struggles with throat cancer... truly inspiring. Good read, I hope you'll check this out.... worth the time.
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Format: Hardcover
After reading Wins, Losses, and Lessons, I have gained a greater appreciation and respect for Coach Holtz, not only for his coaching success, but also for the person he seems to be.

Holtz comes across as honest, transparent, caring, tough, and with a dry sense of humor. Living about 1.5 hours north of Columbia SC (home of the USC Gamecocks - Holtz' last coaching job), I was particularly interested in reading this book when I saw it in the local library. Am I ever glad I did! Among the periods of his interesting life covered include:

1. His early life and upbringing where he learned the basic values of honesty, integrity, and hard work.

2. Early days of assistant coaching (Ohio St., etc.).

3. Head college coaching jobs (William and Mary, NC State, Arkansas, Minnesota, Notre Dame, and finally, South Carolina).

4. His worst admitted mistake - going to coach the New York Jets.

5. Close family life and his dear wife's struggle with cancer.

6. His Catholic faith that particularly grew at Notre Dame.

7. Post coaching days - motivational speaking, working as a consultant, golfing, etc.

While the title is over 300 pages, the book is an easy read and the narrative flows quite smoothly. There was not a part of the book I found boring. While I am not a Catholic, I developed a greater respect for Holtz as both a coach and person.

All in all, a great read. Highly recommended. Read and enjoy!
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