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Amy Dalrymple and John Hageman / Forum News Service, Published September 18 2013

Lou Holtz: Rivals NDSU, UND should play each other

GRAND FORKS – Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz told North Dakota State University and University of North Dakota presidents this week he can’t believe the two longtime rivals don’t play each other.

The ESPN football analyst was at the Alerus Center to speak to the North Dakota Petroleum Council annual meeting Wednesday morning. Holtz said he enjoyed having dinner Tuesday night with presidents and athletic directors from NDSU and UND.

“I just think that is insane that two great schools, 70 miles apart or so, are not playing one another,” Holtz said.

Holtz, who also coached at the University of Minnesota for two years and in the NFL, now works as an analyst for ESPN. The cable network is bringing its GameDay pregame show to broadcast from Fargo on Saturday.

“North Dakota State can fill up the stadium anyway, but it’d be a great money-maker for both schools, I think,” Holtz said. “The Legislature needs to get involved.”

Holtz said he predicted on four shows that NDSU would beat Kansas State and called it a “no-brainer” to pick the Bison.

“They know how to win. They’ve won two championships in a row,” Holtz said. “Most teams would have folded. But they’re used to winning and they expect to win.”

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said in remarks to the NDPC later Wednesday that he ran into Holtz in an elevator Tuesday night.

“And he was proud to tell me that he had picked NDSU over Kansas State a couple of weeks ago,” Dalrymple said. “And I said, ‘You could have just called me, I would have told you that.’”

NDSU and UND had one of the oldest rivalries in college football, but last played in 2003, with UND winning.

In his speech to NDPC members, Holtz relayed lessons for success from his coaching days and personal life. He had a simple message for the gathering of oil and gas industry officials.

“You’re either dying, or you’re growing,” he said.

To help illustrate that point, Holtz recounted how, after leading Notre Dame to the top of the college football world, he retired. He said he left because he was stuck in a rut, and avoiding jeopardizing success for the sake of growing and trying something new.

“Any time you try to maintain, you never have new ideas,” Holtz said. “What I found out was I wasn’t tired of coaching. I was tired of maintaining.”

Holtz, 76, serves on the board of directors for Nuverra Environmental Solutions, which operates in the Bakken, and was invited to speak by CEO Mark Johnsrud of Watford City, N.D. He said he had two mandates when it comes to businesses: making a profit and satisfying his customers.

“If you’re going to satisfy the needs of the people, you’re going to have to work together,” he said. “You will never have a problem with anybody in your organization if you have the same mandate. You might have a disagreement on how to get there.”