Respect: Lou's First Locker Room Speech

When Lou Holtz was named head coach in 1985, he took over a Fighting Irish team that had won just five games in the previous season. Needless to say, he had a difficult task in seeking to restore Notre Dame to its former glory. Always a great motivator, Holtz spoke to his team about respect in his first speech as head coach. In this ‘Strong and True’ moment, listen back to the memorable speech, set to images from throughout Notre Dame’s football history. Below is the transcript of what Holtz said to his team.

In the football game, we want to keep our poise. Poise is just having confidence in yourself and what you’re doing. We are not going to mouth off, push or shove, ever at Notre Dame. We’re going to wait until that ball is snapped, we’re going to put a Riddell [helmet] on somebody, and we’re going to be the most physical football team in the country until the whistle blows.

We want to win for one thing and it’s the first thing we ever had. We said we were going to bring respect. Don’t talk about it. There is only one way you get respect and that’s by looking someone in the eye for sixty minutes, go out there and hitch up your trousers and say, “Hey baby, here I am now. Let me see you run through me now. Let me see you show some disrespect for me when I’m nose on your nose. Let me see what you think of me now that my face is to you.”

We talk about respect. We talk about respect around the country. It’s a game of who’s going to flinch first. Who’s going to give up first. We know that isn’t going to be Notre Dame.

Notre Dame football is nothing more than toughness, togetherness, intensity, intelligence and competitiveness.

All through the Notre Dame Fight Song. The finest fight song in the world. Man, there is nothing like it. It’s world famous. The most popular love song in the country.

Did you ever listen to the words? It starts off and says, “Rally you sons of Notre Dame.” All the fight song talks about is overcoming odds. “What though the odds be great or small old Notre Dame will win over all.” It talks about competing; it talks about bouncing back from adversity. And that’s what Notre Dame is and it talks about a love and loyalty to this University. That’s what makes it a great song, its got a great rhythm. But it’s the loyalty, the love of Notre Dame. But it’s overcoming the odds and everybody in this country faces odds. Nobody has ever faced bigger odds than this football team faced on December the second, when we met. That’s what Notre Dame is about, love of the University. (inaudible).

Notre Dame Victory March plays

I love you. I hope you love one another. I love this University and I hope you do also and I know you do. For the next sixty minutes, I want one thought, one mind, one body, and one spirit. Who’s your friend?

Team: He is. (inaudible) Let’s go baby! (Cheers)

Hey, hey. Last year I was in Columbus, Ohio with Dave McClain, Bo Schembechler.

Bo said, “I’m not worried about Notre Dame.” He said, “They aren’t tough, they aren’t physical and they won’t hit you.”

And I quote you, man. I’ve never lied to you and I’d never mislead you. I marked that thing down. They also said in recruiting the prospect, “Notre Dame doesn’t think football is important and they can’t win there because their guys aren’t tough enough and they aren’t dedicated enough” and you saw what they thought.

What do you think?