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Louisiana Tech has fired coach Skip Holtz after nine seasons, the program announced on Friday. Holtz will coach the season finale against Rice on Saturday. He was 64-49 with the Bulldogs and led the program to seven consecutive bowl games before suffering a down season in 2021.

"Skip and I talked and agreed it was time for a change for both parties," Louisiana Tech athletic director Eric Wood said. "Louisiana Tech owes Skip a debt of gratitude for his loyalty and dedication to our football student-athletes, our University, and our community over the past decade. He has been able to accomplish some things that weren't previously done here on a consistent basis prior to his arrival. We continue to be committed to winning conference championships, and that expectation is stronger than ever."

Just two years ago, Holtz led the program to its first ever FBS 10-win season as Louisiana Tech split a share of the Conference USA West Division with UAB. However, the Bulldogs have bottomed out in 2021 with a 3-8 record pending the results against Rice, giving Holtz his first losing season since his Louisiana Tech debut in 2013. The record included three losses against Mississippi State, SMU and NC State by a combined 10 points. 

Louisiana Tech regressed in conference play after the tight nonconference performances. The Bulldogs handed Southern Miss its only FBS win of the season in a 35-19 loss to the Golden Eagles despite the fact that USM has played more than 10 players at quarterback. 

"This is the right time for me to evaluate a new start in my career," Holtz said. "I've had the privilege of mentoring young people and building football programs for more than 30 years, including the last nine as head coach of Louisiana Tech. The past two seasons have brought additional challenges to our program, and I simply think it is time for someone else to have the chance to lead this special group of young men."

Louisiana Tech plays Rice at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Houston. Both teams enter at 3-9. 

In-state pride

Outside of LSU, Louisiana Tech has been the premier athletic department in Louisiana, historically. But in 2021, the Bulldogs will shockingly finish with the worst record among Louisiana schools. ULM is already sitting with four wins despite hiring a seemingly underwhelming Terry Bowden has to be a frustration. Billy Napier, meanwhile, has led Louisiana to three straight 10-win seasons. 

Holtz's firing compares favorably to that of prior Louisiana coach Mark Hudspeth. He led the Ragin' Cajuns to four consecutive nine-win seasons before being fired in 2017 after a 5-7 campaign. Napier came in and led Louisiana to historic success. For that reason, expect Louisiana Tech to bet on an up-and-comer to get the program's name back into the national conversation. 

Changing landscape

The news comes months after several of Conference USA's top programs announced they would leave for the American Athletic Conference and the Sun Belt, leaving Louisiana Tech, UTEPFIU, Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky as the only remaining members. Conference USA has since added LibertyNew Mexico State and FCS transitioning members Jacksonville State and Sam Houston. 

The Bulldogs have long been one of the proudest athletic departments in the country and won three national championships at the Division II level. With years until realignment is fully settled, Louisiana Tech was unwilling to roll the dice on Holtz getting his mojo back, especially after major programs overlooked him after a period of unparalleled FBS success at the program.