Mike Holovak

Michael Joseph Holovak (September 19, 1919 – January 27, 2008) was an American football player, coach, and executive. He played college football at Boston College, where he was named an All-American at fullback in 1942. Holovak was selected in the first round of the 1943 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Rams. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he played in the National Football League (NFL) with the Rams, who had moved to Los Angeles, in 1946 and with the Chicago Bears in 1947 and 1948. Holovak served as the head football coach at his alma mater, Boston College, from 1951 to 1959, compiling a record of 49–29–3. In 1960, he joined the Boston Patriots of the American Football League as an assistant coach under Lou Saban. Holovak took over as head coach after Saban's firing midway through the 1961 season and remained as the team's head coach through the 1968 season. In 1976, he served one game as head coach for the New York Jets. He was also the general manager of the Houston Oilers from 1989 to 1993. Holovak was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1985.

Mike Holovak
Neck-up black-and-white photograph of Holovak in profile wearing a dark baseball cap
Position:Fullback
Personal information
Born:September 19, 1919
Lansford, Pennsylvania
Died:January 27, 2008 (aged 88)
Ruskin, Florida
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:213 lb (97 kg)
Career information
High school:Patchogue (NY) Seton Hall
College:Boston College
NFL Draft:1943 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5
Career history
As player:
As coach:
As executive:
Career highlights and awards
Head coaching record
Regular season:NCAA: 49–29–3 (.623)
NFL: 52–47–9 (.523)
Postseason:NFL: 1–1 (.500)
Career:NCAA: 49–29–3 (.623)
NFL: 53–48–9 (.523)
Player stats at PFR
Coaching stats at PFR

Early life and playing career

Holovak, one of six children and the youngest of five sons of Czechoslovakian immigrants, grew up in the coal mining town of Lansford, Pennsylvania. During his high school playing days, he helped defeat a team coached by future legend Vince Lombardi.

College career

Playing collegiately at Boston College for three years beginning in 1940, Holovak was a starter at running back at under head coaches Frank Leahy and Denny Myers, averaging more than five yards per carry. During his sophomore year, the undefeated Eagles competed in the Sugar Bowl.

Two years later, Holovak served as co-captain of the Eagles' squad that entered the final weeks of the 1942 campaign as the top-ranked college team in the country. However, on November 28 they were upset by arch-rival the College of the Holy Cross, a defeat that canceled a victory party that night at Boston's Cocoanut Grove hotel. That decision proved to be chillingly wise when a horrendous fire swept through the building that night, killing 492 people and injuring hundreds more.

The team regrouped to compete in the 1943 Orange Bowl game, a contest in which he rushed for 158 yards on just 10 carries and scored a record-setting three touchdowns. He earned consensus first-team All-American honors that season and finished fourth in voting for the Heisman Trophy.

Professional career

On April 8, 1943, the Cleveland Rams, who had earlier announced they were suspending operations for the duration of World War II, selected Holovak in the first round of the NFL Draft. Holovak then enlisted in the United States Navy and attended Officer Candidate School. He went on to command a PT boat that sank nine Japanese ships, and later battling malaria. However, despite his heroics, he was dealt a heavy personal blow when one of his brothers lost his life during the four-year conflict.

Holovak officially signed with the Rams on December 29, 1944, but didn't take the field until 1946, by which time the franchise had relocated to Los Angeles. During his one season with the team, he gained 211 yards and scored three touchdowns.

Traded to the Chicago Bears on January 27, 1947, Holovak would lead the pass-oriented Windy City squad in rushing during each of the next two years, also three touchdowns. Prior to the start of his first year with the Bears, Holovak got his first taste of coaching by assisting with the spring practice of University of San Francisco head coach Edward McKeever.

After his two years in Chicago, Holovak retired on March 1, 1949 to become the freshman football coach at his alma mater. After two seasons in which he compiled an undefeated record, he was promoted to head coach at Boston College on December 30, 1950, following the resignation of Myers.

Coaching career

In his first five years, Holovak compiled a mark of 24–16–5, winning Coach of the Year honors in 1954 from New England football writers. Those efforts were good enough to earn him a new four-year contract on November 22, 1955, but even after four more winning seasons, he was fired on December 3, 1959, after a year in which Eagle fans had subjected him to constant verbal abuse.

Two weeks after his dismissal, Holovak signed as a scout with the fledgling Patriots, then was named an assistant under Lou Saban on March 29, 1960. After a 5–9 record that year and a 2-3 start in 1961, Saban was fired on October 10 and replaced by Holovak. His first game as Patriots coach was a 31-31 tie (the first in Patriots history) with the Houston Oilers. Finishing with a 9–4–1 record, Holovak matched that record the following year, earning him a new three-year contract, with an option for another year.

In 1963, the Patriots reached the postseason for the first time, despite only compiling a 7–6–1 record. They then defeated the Buffalo Bills in an Eastern Conference playoff, but were then pounded in the AFL Championship game, 51–10, by the San Diego Chargers. The next year, Holovak added the duties of general manager to his job description, and after the team improved to 10–3–1, he was named AFL Coach of the Year on December 15, 1964 and received a new five-year contract.

However, the veteran unit slipped to 4–8–2 in 1965, but rebounded into contention the next season with the addition of rookie running back Jim Nance. Needing only a victory in their final game against the New York Jets on December 17 to reach the AFL title contest, the Patriots instead saw their 1966 season end with a 38-28 upset loss. The defeat was softened somewhat when Holovak again won the league's Coach of the Year accolade.

Age finally caught up with the team over the next two years with the Patriots managing only a 7–20–1 record. The end result was that Holovak was fired from both positions on January 7, 1969, ending his Patriots tenure with a mark of 53–47–9. As in his previous stint at Boston College, Holovak saw growing fan discontent, including chants of "Goodbye Mike", play a role in the decision. He would remain the winningest coach in Patriots history until Bill Belichick passed him in 2005.

He would later coach in one game for the New York Jets, replacing Lou Holtz who had resigned before the last game of the 1976 season to return to college as coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Jets lost that game 42-3 to the Cincinnati Bengals. His overall career record as a NFL head coach was 53–48–9 for .522 winning percentage.

Executive career and later life

After first considering an assistant coaching position with the Oakland Raiders, Holovak instead remained a Patriots scout, but shifted gears somewhat by taking a position with the Massachusetts State Racing Commission. However, just two months later, he left that position to become an assistant with the San Francisco 49ers. Personal tragedy, though, soon intervened when his 18-year-old daughter Ann, one of two girls, was killed in an auto accident on the night of her senior prom on June 13.

After two years with the 49ers, Holovak remained in the Bay Area by accepting the post of receivers coach with the Raiders on March 6, 1971. When the team failed to reach the postseason for the first time in five years, Holovak was let go, but signed as a scout with the New York Jets on July 10, 1972. Returning to sidelines the next year as running backs coach, he then moved into the Jets' front office following the 1974 NFL season as Director of Player Personnel.

He remained in that role for two seasons, but when Jets head coach Lou Holtz resigned before the final game of the season, Holovak handled the duties in a 42–3 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on December 12. He then announced his resignation on May 20, 1977, citing personal reasons.

In 1980, he was elected to the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame, then returned to football on February 15, 1981, when he was named executive vice-president of the Houston Oilers. Rebuilding the team following the departure of popular head coach Bum Phillips, Holovak made his most adept move when he strongly recommended the signing of Canadian Football League quarterback Warren Moon in 1984.

By 1988, Holovak was being phased out by Oilers' general manager Ladd Herzeg, with his duties limited to scouting. However, after Herzeg left in a contract dispute after the season, Holovak was named general manager on February 2, 1989. He remained in that role until the end of 1993 NFL season, but remained a scout for the franchise, which later shifted to Tennessee, until retiring for good in 1999. In an episode of A Football Life that chronicled the 1993 Oilers team, a team riddled with many off-the-field issues, several Oiler personnel criticized the actions taken by the front office (chiefly Holovak and owner Bud Adams) for not taking direct action on the bitter issues that plagued the team, such as the season long feud between defensive and offensive coordinators Buddy Ryan and Kevin Gilbride that eventually turned physical during a nationally televised game. Despite this, the '93 team finished 12-4 after a 1-4 start before receiving an early exit from the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional playoffs.

On January 27, 2008, Holovak died in Ruskin, Florida from complications from pneumonia. He was 88 years old.[1] He was laid to rest at Florida's National Cemetery.

Head coaching record

College

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Boston College Eagles (NCAA University Division independent) (1951–1959)
1951 Boston College 3–6
1952 Boston College 4–4–1
1953 Boston College 5–3–1
1954 Boston College 8–1
1955 Boston College 5–2–1
1956 Boston College 5–4
1957 Boston College 7–2
1958 Boston College 7–3
1959 Boston College 5–4
Boston College: 49–29–3
Total: 49–29–3

NFL/AFL

Team Year Regular Season Postseason
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
BOS 1961 7 1 1 .833 2nd in AFL Eastern
BOS 1962 9 4 1 .679 2nd in AFL Eastern
BOS 1963 7 6 1 .536 1st in AFL Eastern 1 1 .500 Lost to San Diego Chargers in AFL Championship Game.
BOS 1964 10 3 1 .750 2nd in AFL Eastern
BOS 1965 4 8 2 .357 3rd in AFL Eastern
BOS 1966 8 4 2 .643 2nd in AFL Eastern
BOS 1967 3 10 1 .250 5th in AFL Eastern
BOS 1968 4 10 0 .286 4th in AFL Eastern
BOS Total 52 46 9 .433 1 1 .500
NYJ* 1976 0 1 0 .000 4th in AFC East
NYJ Total 0 1 0 .000
Total[2] 52 47 9 .523 1 1 .500

See also

References

  1. ^ Matthews, mourners recall respect for Oilers GM Holovak Houston Chronicle
  2. ^ "Mike Holovak Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks - Pro-Football-Reference.com". Pro-Football-Reference.com.

External links

1941 Sugar Bowl

The 1941 edition of the Sugar Bowl featured the fourth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers and the fifth-ranked Boston College Eagles, both with records of 10–0 and high-scoring offenses. It was played on Wednesday, January 1, 1941, at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana.

In the seventh Sugar Bowl, Tennessee scored the only points of the first half with a four-yard touchdown run by Van Thompson in the first quarter. After a scoreless second quarter, Boston College scored on a 13-yard touchdown run from Harry Connolly to tie the score at seven each. Tennessee answered with a two-yard touchdown run from Warren Buist for a 13–7 lead. Boston College scored on a one-yard rushing touchdown from Mike Holovak to tie the game at thirteen each.

In the fourth quarter, Tennessee's Bob Foxx missed a short field goal attempt with three minutes remaining, and BC took over on its own twenty. Quarterback Charlie O'Rourke led the Eagles on an eighty-yard drive, capped with his 24-yard touchdown run to give them a 19–13 win.

1942 Boston College Eagles football team

The 1942 Boston College Eagles football team represented Boston College in the 1942 college football season. The Eagles were led by second-year head coach Denny Myers, and played all of their regular season games at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.Boston College won its first 8 games of the season, climbing to #1 in the AP Poll. All the Eagles needed to do to secure its second national championship in three years, and first ever AP title, was to beat rival Holy Cross (4–4–1) in the final game of the regular season. The result, however, was a stunning rout loss, 12–55. The Eagles team cancelled their planned post-game celebration at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Boston, which inadvertently saved the team from perishing along with 492 others in the Cocoanut Grove fire that occurred that night.Team co-captain and fullback Mike Holovak was the undisputed star of the team, earning consensus All-America honors and finishing fourth in Heisman Trophy voting. He finished his career as Boston College's all-time leading rusher, with 2,011 yards and 23 touchdowns. Holovak returned to coach the Eagles from 1951 to 1959.

The Eagles received an invitation to play in the Orange Bowl on New Years Day, where they lost to Alabama, 21–37.

1943 Orange Bowl

The 1943 Orange Bowl, part of the 1942 bowl game season, took place on January 1, 1943, at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. The competing teams were the Alabama Crimson Tide, representing the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and the Boston College Eagles, competing as a football independent. Alabama won the game 37–21.

1951 Boston College Eagles football team

The 1951 Boston College Eagles football team represented Boston College during the 1951 college football season. The Eagles were led by first-year head coach Mike Holovak and played their home games at Braves Field in Boston, Massachusetts.

1952 Boston College Eagles football team

The 1952 Boston College Eagles football team represented Boston College during the 1952 college football season. The Eagles were led by second-year head coach Mike Holovak and played their home games at Braves Field in Boston, Massachusetts.

1953 Boston College Eagles football team

The 1953 Boston College Eagles football team represented Boston College during the 1953 college football season. The Eagles were led by third-year head coach Mike Holovak and played their home games at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.

1954 Boston College Eagles football team

The 1954 Boston College Eagles football team represented Boston College as an independent during the 1954 college football season. In its fourth season under head coach Mike Holovak, the team compiled an 8-1 record and outscored opponents by a combined total of 196 to 74. The team's sole loss was to Xavier; Xavier broke a 12-game winless streak with the victory over BC.The team played its home games at Fenway Park in Boston.

1955 Boston College Eagles football team

The 1955 Boston College Eagles football team represented Boston College as an independent in the 1955 college football season. The Eagles were led by fifth-year head coach Mike Holovak, and played their home games at Alumni Field in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts and Fenway Park in Boston. Team captain John Miller went on to play four seasons in the National Football League.

The team won its first three games and was ranked No. 17 in the AP Poll after those three victories. The team suffered its first loss to Xavier, and one week later lost a close game to Miami by a 14–7 score at the Orange Bowl.In the annual Green Line Rivalry game, Boston College gained 420 yards and defeated Boston University, 40–12, before a crowd of 25,827.The final game of the season was a 26–7 victory over rivals Holy Cross in front of 37,235 fans in Fenway Park.

1956 Boston College Eagles football team

The 1956 Boston College Eagles football team represented Boston College during the 1956 NCAA University Division football season. The Eagles were led by sixth-year head coach Mike Holovak and played their home games at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.

1957 Boston College Eagles football team

The 1957 Boston College Eagles football team represented Boston College as an independent during the 1957 NCAA University Division football season. In its seventh season under head coach Mike Holovak, the team compiled a 7–2 record and outscored opponents by a total of 158 to 129.Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, was built prior to the 1957 season and was dedicated with the season opener on September 27. John F. Kennedy, then a U.S. Senator, arranged for the opening match-up against Navy. The Eagles' first victory in their new stadium came the following week against Florida State.After losing the season opener, the team won seven consecutive games before losing the final game to rival Holy Cross. The Eagles tied a school record by losing eight fumbles in the loss to Holy Cross.The team's statistical leaders included quarterback Don Allard with 910 passing yards, fullback Alan Miller with 484 rushing yards, and end Jim Colclough with 254 receiving yards and 42 points scored. Allard, Miller, and Colclough all went on to play in the American Football League or the National Football League. Guard Tom Meehan received the Thomas F. Scanlan Memorial Trophy as the senior player outstanding in scholarship, leadership, and athletic ability.On October 19, the team set a single-game school record in limiting Villanova to 76 yards of total offense. That total remains tied for the fourth best single-game performance in school history.

1958 Boston College Eagles football team

The 1958 Boston College Eagles football team represented Boston College as an independent during the 1958 NCAA University Division football season. In its eighth season under head coach Mike Holovak, the team compiled a 7–3 record and outscored opponents by a total of 229 to 127.The team allowed opponents an average of 194.2 yards of total offense per game (106.0 rushing yards and 88.2 passing yards). The defense also recovered 24 fumbles and gave up only 91 first downs in 10 games. All three figures remain Boston College season records.The team's statistical leaders included quarterback Don Allard with 691 passing yards, Jim Duggan with 489 rushing yards, end Jim Colclough with 462 receiving yards, and end Jack Flanagan with 36 points scored.Jack Flanagan also received the Thomas F. Scanlan Memorial Trophy as the senior player outstanding in scholarship, leadership, and athletic ability. Flanagan was also named to the first team of the All-New England football team. Tackle Steve Bennett was named to the second team.Five members of the team went on to play in the National Football League or American Football League: Don Allard, Jim Colclough,

Larry Eisenhauer, Alan Miller, and Ross O'Hanley.The team played its home games at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

1959 Boston College Eagles football team

The 1959 Boston College Eagles football team represented Boston College during the 1959 NCAA University Division football season. The Eagles were led by ninth-year head coach Mike Holovak and played their home games at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. At the conclusion of a 5–4 season, Holovak was fired as head coach. He posted a record of 49–29–3 in his nine seasons at Boston College.

1961 Boston Patriots season

The 1961 Boston Patriots season was the franchise's 2nd season in the American Football League The Patriots ended the season with a record of nine wins and four losses and one tie, and placed second in the AFL's Eastern Division.

1962 Boston Patriots season

The 1962 Boston Patriots season was the franchise's 3rd season in the American Football League. The Patriots ended the season with a record of nine wins and four losses and one tie and placed second in the AFL's Eastern Division.

1967 Boston Patriots season

The 1967 Boston Patriots season was the franchise's 8th season in the American Football League The Patriots ended the season with a record of three wins, ten losses, and one tie, and finished last in the AFL's Eastern Division.

1968 Boston Patriots season

The 1968 Boston Patriots season was the franchise's 9th season in the American Football League. The Patriots ended the season with a record of four wins and ten losses, and finished fourth in the AFL's Eastern Division. The Patriots played their final season of home games at Fenway Park before moving to Alumni Stadium on the campus of Boston College for the following season.

Art Spinney

Arthur F. Spinney Jr. (born November 8, 1927 in Saugus, Massachusetts, died May 27, 1994 in Lynn, Massachusetts ) was a guard who played nine seasons with the Baltimore Colts in the National Football League. Spinney attended Boston College. He missed the 1951 and 1952 NFL seasons due to military service.

After his career he served as an offensive line coach for Boston College and the Boston Patriots under Mike Holovak and was also a public relations official. For a brief time, Spinney worked for the American Biltrite Rubber Company of Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a consultant to its Sports Surfaces Division. In 1972, along with Lawrence J. Warnalis of Medford, Massachusetts, Spinney was awarded U.S. Patent number 3661687 which recognized Biltrite's artificial grass product Poly-Turf as well as its associated layers of product, applied on top of asphalt, as the proper way to construct a football or soccer field with artificial turf. This provided maximum comfort and safety to the players.

List of New England Patriots head coaches

The New England Patriots are a professional American football team based in Foxborough, Massachusetts. They are a member of the East Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The team began as the Boston Patriots in the American Football League, a league which merged with the National Football League before the 1970 season.There have been 14 head coaches for the Patriots franchise. Lou Saban became the first coach of the Patriots in 1960, although he was fired part way through their second season. Bill Belichick, the current coach since 2000, has led the team for more regular season games (288), post-season games (37) and more complete seasons (18) than any other head coach. His 214 wins with the Patriots are far and away the most in franchise history, more than three times those of runner-up Mike Holovak. Belichick has also led the team to eight of their ten Super Bowl appearances, winning five of them. Holovak, Raymond Berry and Bill Parcells all led the Patriots to league championship games, with only one coach failing to reach the Super Bowl. Five Patriots head coaches, Holovak, Chuck Fairbanks, Berry, Parcells, and Belichick, have been named coach of the year by at least one major news organization. Additionally, Raymond Berry is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 1973, eleven years before he became the Patriots' head coach.Twice in Patriots history there were "interim" head coaches. In 1972, John Mazur resigned with five games left in the season. Phil Bengston was named as the interim head coach for the rest of the season, during which he only won one game, and he was not made the permanent coach the next year. In 1978, head coach Fairbanks secretly made a deal to leave the team to coach the University of Colorado Buffaloes while he was still coaching Patriots. Team owner Billy Sullivan suspended Fairbanks for the final game of the regular season, stating "You cannot serve two masters," and Ron Erhardt and Hank Bullough took co-head coaching responsibilities for that game. Fairbanks was reinstated when the team qualified for the playoffs, and he lost the first playoff game, his last for the Patriots.

List of New York Jets head coaches

There have been 18 head coaches in the history of the New York Jets football franchise. The team began as the New York Titans in the American Football League in 1960, but was renamed the New York Jets three years later. The Jets remained in the American Football League until the merger with the National Football League prior to the 1970 season.

Sammy Baugh became the first head coach of the New York Titans in 1960, serving for two seasons before team owner Harry Wismer replaced him with Clyde "Bulldog" Turner. In terms of tenure, Weeb Ewbank has coached more games (158) and more complete seasons (11) than any other head coach in franchise history. He led the Jets to the AFL championship in 1968 and the AFL-NFL championship in Super Bowl III. Walt Michaels led the team to the AFC championship game in 1982; he was also honored as the Pro Football Weekly NFL Coach of the Year and UPI AFC Coach of the Year in 1978. Coaches Baugh, Turner, Ewbank are all members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame; Baugh and Turner were inducted as players, while Ewbank was inducted as a coach/administrator.

Twice in Jets history has there been an "interim" head coach. In 1975, Charley Winner was fired as head coach after leading the Jets to a 2–7 record. The team offensive coordinator Ken Shipp was named the interim coach for the remainder of the season, during which he won only one of five games. Shipp was succeeded by Lou Holtz for the 1976 season. Holtz resigned as Jets head coach with one game left in the 1976 season; Mike Holovak was named interim coach for the season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals.Bill Belichick was twice named head coach of the Jets but never coached a single game or practice in that capacity. In 1997 he was named head coach for six days before the deal to allow Bill Parcells to leave the New England Patriots for the Jets was brokered, and Belichick became defensive coordinator; then, when Parcells stepped down after the 1999 season Belichick was named to replace him, but resigned the next day.

Herman Edwards is the only Jets head coach to lead the team to the playoffs more than twice; Rex Ryan is the only one with more than two postseason wins. Todd Bowles is the only one to coach the Jets for more than two seasons without making the playoffs.

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