There are several explanations for why Skip Holtz, after months and months of thinking that he would be here as long as he was doing a good enough job, may not actually be doing that:
1. It's about the money. There's no question that North Carolina could offer Holtz a lot more money than USF does. But while I'm sure money is important to him and his family, I don't think it's his sole motivation as a coach. If he did go somewhere else, I doubt that a bigger paycheck would be the deciding factor.
Likelihood of this explanation being true: Pretty small, but not something you can totally ignore.
2. It's a better job. Well, that might be true. North Carolina is still a basketball school, and there's still that minor issue of waiting for the NCAA to hand down sanctions for their improper benefits and academic misconduct scandal. Granted the ACC is in a lot better shape than the Big East is right now. But UNC has its own problems that would take awhile for any coach to overcome. It could be a better job in Skip's mind because of his time and his recruiting connections from when he was the head coach at East Carolina, and an assistant for his dad at South Carolina. (And of course, the money.) Empirically, though, it isn't a huge step up.
Likelihood of this explanation being true: Possible. It would be easier for Holtz to transition into that job than it would for most other coaches, even though it isn't an ideal situation either.
3. The "vital internal candidate" Charles Robinson is referring to is driving this. That person pretty much has to be Bubba Cunningham, if you do some digging. Cunningham is North Carolina's new athletic director. They were classmates at Notre Dame, and they've known each other for 25 years. If Skip is having any behind-the-scenes issues at USF, Bubba might already know about them. Plus if any of us had a chance to work with/for one of your friends, many of us would take that chance.
Likelihood of this explanation being true: About as possible as the "better job" theory. But we don't know if Skip or Bubba (those are two fun names to put next to each other) would want to turn their personal relationship into an employee/employer relationship.
4. Skip is going all Machiavelli. You couldn't possibly give Holtz a contract extension at this point. Not with an ailing 5-5 team that is going to have to fight like hell to get to a bowl. But you also can't fire him two years in. It's not enough time to prove himself, and you don't have the $5 million-plus it would take to do it. So why would these rumors be popping up?
Is Skip Holtz trying to point out that he's not happy with his current working environment?
We've documented here that working for Doug Woolard and Bill McGillis has been difficult for many people. We've seen the problems in other parts of USF Athletics, from extremely high executive salaries for the results, to the Title IX debacle, to the Sun Dome project (which is FINALLY getting in gear), to not expressing any outward desire to get out of the Big East, to accepting mediocrity because not doing so would mean someone would have to admit they made a mistake. Skip could argue that corners have been cut, his product is marketed terribly, and maybe other things we wouldn't know about. He might be as miserable as many other people are in that building.
Holtz could have a lot of leverage here. If he has options and someone is willing to give him a potentially better job, why would he stay if the status quo is maintained here? But if he does want to stay, couldn't this also be a great opportunity to force some changes he might appreciate? Is this all a power play to force Doug and/or Bill to leave in order to keep him? That's obviously speculation here, but it is possible. And if so, that's a no-win situation for the USF administration. If Holtz leaves, some higher-ups very well might be gone too for driving him away. It would be the biggest in their series of blunders over the last few years, and it would make it impossible to ignore the gigantic clusterfuck USF Athletics can be considered right now.
Likelihood of this explanation being true: Certainly possible and worth discussing, although Holtz hasn't shown any kind of Machiavellian tendencies in his time here. But wouldn't it be awesome if behind his friendly and likable exterior, he was capable of running a ruthless power play like this? As Kevin Harlan would say, "RIGHT BETWEEN THE EYEEESSSS!!!"