Bill Belichick explained how getting fired by Lou Holtz actually helped his career

"Sometimes it’s just the ball bounces your way, I guess."

Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick after the Patriots-Vikings game in December 2018. –Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images

Before he was a Super Bowl winner with the Patriots, and before he was an established coach in the NFL, Bill Belichick was a college graduate with an uncertain future.

During a Friday press conference, Belichick recalled his first job after graduating Wesleyan in 1975.

“When I was in college, I was going to go with Coach [Lou] Holtz to North Carolina State to be a graduate assistant down there,” Belichick remembered. But his first job ended before it began.

“They hired me, then he fired me, and I ended up at Baltimore with Coach [Ted] Marchibroda,” Belichick said. The reason for Belichick’s abrupt dismissal from N.C. State, according to Holtz, was Title IX.


“Holtz later reported that the opening he’d reserved for Bill was closed by new budget realities under Title IX legislation that mandated increased funding for women’s sports,” Ian O’Connor wrote in his recent biography on Belichick.

After departing the college ranks, Belichick ended up in Baltimore with Marchibroda, who became his early mentor.

“Things worked out,” Belichick said, “but I guess that was kind of the point, in college where I saw that as furthering my — you know, didn’t really have the money to go to graduate school, but the combination of the graduate assistantship and all that looked like a good route to take. And so that’s kind of the track I was on and then ended up at Baltimore, for no money but for a great experience, which was worth way more than whatever they could have been paying me — which I wasn’t worth anything, so I wasn’t making anything.”

Years later, Belichick summarized the beginning of his coaching career with a succinct analogy: “Sometimes it’s just the ball bounces your way, I guess.”


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