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Before the team left campus for a few days of Christmas break, Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz put them through a rigorous string of practices to prepare for the Fiesta Bowl matchup with West Virginia.
"All the little things that you're taught to do in spring practice and training camp, we went right back to them. We had some very intense practices," said linebacker and captain Ned Bolcar.
Holtz pumped the West Virginia fight song into the Loftus Center, playing it over and over and over again.
"It was so loud we couldn't hear each other," said sophomore linebacker Scott Kowalkowski.
If starters had thoughts about being complacent, Holtz erased them. "Every position is up for grabs," he said.
"Nobody was comfortable. That was one of the brilliant things about Coach Holtz, his ability to never let you be comfortable," said tackle and captain Andy Heck. "It wasn't particularly enjoyable going through it, but looking back on it, it certainly produced results."
Years later most players grew to appreciate Holtz's meticulous and disciplinary approach. In the moment, though, they struggled and sometimes commiserated about his methods.
None of the opining mattered to Holtz. He wasn't there to be liked. He was there to be their coach. Players being content or him being admired didn't matter. To Holtz, what mattered was being who he promised to be as a coach. That's what guided his words and actions.