He served as the head football coach at The College of William Mary (1969–1971), North Carolina State University (1972–1975), the University of Arkansas (1977–1983), the University of Minnesota (1984–1985), the University of Notre Dame (1986–1996), and the University of South Carolina (1999–2004), compiling a career record of 249–132–7. Holtz's 1988 Notre Dame team went 12–0 with a victory in the Fiesta Bowl and was the consensus national champion. Holtz is the only college football coach to lead six different programs to bowl games and the only coach to guide four different programs to the final top 20 rankings. Holtz also coached the New York Jets of the NFL during the 1976 season.
Over the years, the slender, bespectacled Holtz has become known for his quick wit and ability to inspire players. He is often found as a guest on the popular Richmond, Virginia based Kain Road Radio. In 2005, Holtz joined ESPN as a college football analyst. On May 1, 2008, Holtz was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.