Notre Dame, South Florida To Kick-Off 2011: Skip Holtz's Early Audition?

Dan ScofieldAnalyst IFebruary 11, 2010

The original Oct. 3 meeting between South Florida and Notre Dame has now been moved to September 1st, making the matchup the season opener for both teams.

According to , Skip Holtz and his Bulls will travel to South Bend after agreeing to move the game, avoiding an originally scheduled road start at Purdue for the Irish.

Holtz, a former special teams player for the Irish, returns to Notre Dame for what will be a welcome homecoming. In addition to playing, Holtz also came back to coach on his father's staff from 1990-93, including two years as the Irish offensive coordinator.

During the hiring process of a successor to Charlie Weis, the younger Holtz's name was a prominent one among Irish fans. Although he has yet to prove himself on a big stage thus far in his career, the last name alone was enough for some Irish fans to desire another Holtz at the helm of Notre Dame.

After Jim Levitt was controversially fired by South Florida, Holtz left his head coaching job at East Carolina to fill the vacancy. However, even though he has yet to coach a game at his newest position, this game may even be an audition for the future of Notre Dame football.

At a young coaching age of 45, if Holtz succeeds with the Bulls and shows that he can compete at a national level, there is no reason that he wouldn't be one of the first names on the succession list if Brian Kelly fails to win in South Bend. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick is crossing his fingers that his newest hire works out.

But many expect Holtz to continue the family tradition and wind up back at Notre Dame before his coaching days end.

For both teams, the new date presents a challenge in the 2011 opener. Notre Dame is used to the early season competition, but South Florida has played a I-AA team in its opener the past four seasons. The 2010 season will be the fifth year in a row that the Bulls kick off their football season with a non-division one program.

The Irish will also face a tough test in Holtz' return to his alma mater. With College Gameday assumed to be on site, expect a fired up and Holtz-led South Florida team to try and steal one in South Bend.