FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz spent some of the most formative years of his life in Arkansas while his father Lou was the Razorbacks’ head coach from 1977 to 1982.
Skip attended seventh grade through high school in Fayetteville. He walked the sideline around Razorback greats like Ron Calcagni and Kevin Scanlon, built lifelong friendships and played quarterback for Fayetteville High School.
This weekend, he returns to the place that left a lasting impact on him as Louisiana Tech faces Arkansas at 3 p.m. inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
“Great memories,” Holtz said in a phone interview with SEC Country. “Unbelievable relationships. I still have a lot of people in Fayetteville that I stay in touch with, that I went to high school with. I really value the time that I spent there. It’s a special place.”
As his return to football in Northwest Arkansas began to draw closer, the reminders of growing up around the Razorbacks’ program became more vivid.
“As we’re playing Arkansas, and we’ll be fighting crowd noise, we’re playing the fight song over the loud speakers and in the weight room trying to get them acclimated to the environment we’re going to be walking into,” Holtz said. “I know every word of the fight song. It’s like, ‘Ah, I remember this.’ I’m sitting there singing it. So yeah, it was a special time for me and a really special place. I’ve got some great memories from being there.”
Not only will the season opener be a homecoming of sorts for Skip, it’ll also be a return to Fayetteville for his father. Lou is set to be honored at a banquet Friday night and during halftime Saturday as part of the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor’s 2016 class. The elder Holtz was 60-21-2 in his seven seasons at Arkansas. He led the Razorbacks to a win in the 1978 Orange Bowl and a Southwest Conference title in 1979.
“I think it’s awesome,” Holtz said. “I think it’s great that he is going to have the opportunity to be honored and go through that. So many times we honor people and let them know how much we appreciate them once they’ve passed. That’s why I think this is going to be a great opportunity for him to be honored by the people of Arkansas and how much they appreciate the things he was able to do while he was there with the Orange Bowl win and some of the success they had there on the field. I’m excited for him.”