Skip Holtz has been fired as head football coach of the University of South Florida Bulls following a disastrous 2012 season.

Holtz, 48, the son of legendary former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, was hired by USF in 2010 as an up-and-coming coach from East Carolina University.

In his first season at USF, Holtz led the Bulls to a bowl game and an 8-5 record. But 2010 was followed by dismal seasons and no bowl games as the Bulls finished 5-7 in 2011 and 3-9 this year.

USF was projected to finish second in the Big East Conference in the pre-season, but never lived up to those expectations. Under Holtz, the Bulls compiled a 1-6 conference record with their sole conference victory coming against a weak UConn team that also won’t be going bowling this year.

Holtz is just the second coach in USF history, following the firing of Jim Leavitt, who was let go in 2010 after he hit a player.

“While our program remains young, having just completed our 16th season of competition, our history is rich, and the expectations of coaches, players, students, administrators and fans are high.  That is why the past few months have been hard for all of us,” USF athletic director Doug Woolard said in a statement. “We have made the very difficult decision to relieve Coach Skip Holtz of his duties at USF.  During his three seasons as our head coach, Skip has served the university and the football program admirably.” 

Holtz said he understood that a coaching change had to be made, but commended his team for not giving up on him.

“Throughout my time here, the young men on this team never gave up, and that reflects on their character as individuals and as a team. I believe we made some positive strides, most notably in our academics, that were helping to build a foundation for this program and I would have liked the opportunity to see it through,” he said in a statement. “But, I understand the administration's decision and wish them nothing but success in the future. I'm grateful to the University of South Florida, President Genshaft and Doug Woolard for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this fine institution.”

Woolard said the search for a new head coach would begin “immediately,” and added that the school would not be using a search firm to find Holtz’s replacement.

Woolard told USF fans to be optimistic about the future and said he plans to make sure the Bulls become a nationally prominent football team.

“Every program experiences highs and lows on the way to national prominence.  Brighter days are ahead. I know that our fans share the passion and pride for USF Athletics that I do.  I continue to be grateful for their support,” he said. “Our fan base deserves to know that we are committed toward making USF successful on a national scale.  We will conduct our search for the next head coach with that in mind.”