I live for college football Saturdays.
It’s during those 14 Saturdays, when the 90-degree heat gives way to the 30-degree snow (at least in my hometown of Chicago), that life is as beautiful as the Italian opera singers in The Shawshank Redemption. Like the prisoners, I stop and soak it all in.
But there is one thing that prevents the opera singers from turning into Beyoncé. One thing that I hope I wake up late enough to miss. One thing that I actually might mute the TV for.
That is Lou Holtz.
Before I go any further, let me say this: I think Holtz was a heck of a coach and motivator. He’s the only coach to guide six different schools to season-ending bowl games. He won a national title at Notre Dame and was named coach of the year in 1988. In his last stint, he took control of the reigns of an 0-11 South Carolina team and steered it to a New Year’s Day bowl two years later.
Since his retirement from coaching, the 72-year-old Holtz has been a college football analyst for ESPN. He appears during weekly segments and on College GameDay Saturday mornings, and occasionally serves as an analyst for a game, like he did for Wednesday’s Boise State vs. Tulsa game.
It was while I was watching this game and clips of his previews for this weekend’s Notre Dame-USC game that I decided he has to go.
I respect Holtz’s enthusiasm and commitment to college football, but it’s almost unbearable watching him every week. His mouth works faster than his mind. He says things that make my jaw drop.
About a year ago, Holtz likened Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez to the Fürher himself. When talking about leadership qualities, Holtz inexplicably said, “You know, Hitler was a great leader too.”
His co-analysts looked stunned, and Rece Davis tried to cover up by saying, “You mean Hitler was a bad leader?” Holtz replied, “Yes,” but the damage was done. Needless to say, ESPN was apologizing from the summit of Mount Everest the next day.
This hasn’t been Holtz’s only misstep, not by far. In fact, I was reminded of this while watching the Boise State game Wednesday, as Holtz made another testy analogy when a Tulsa coach received a penalty: “There’s also a rule that you can’t bring a little play gun into school, and they are going to put you in prison for it because it’s against the rules.”
Really, Lou? A gun and school reference? He could’ve made a reference to being late for class three times and given a detention, but he made a gun and school reference during a period when those are the last two things people want to hear in the same sentence.
But the final straw for me occurred after Davis promoted ESPNChicago.com during the telecast. After the promotion, Holtz said, “I do things for ESPNChicago everyday on Notre Dame, completely impartial and unbiased.”
For those of you who watch Holtz, I’ll let that sink in for a second.
Holtz loves Notre Dame, as he should. But as an analyst and journalist, he lets this get in the way of his reporting and too many times has he shown bias to Notre Dame. In fact, he picked them to go to the national championship game at the beginning of the season when most people didn’t even have them in the top 25.
Then, in his previews for this week’s USC-Notre Dame game, he spoke of the Irish as if they were the best team in the country. If I was visiting from Myanmar and had no idea about college football, I would think that Notre Dame is unbeatable, whereas in reality, it could very well be 1-4.
There was one comment in particular that Holtz made that almost made me throw a baseball at my TV.
“Of course, we don’t know how Matt Barkley is going to react in a hostile environment such as Notre Dame.”
Excuse me? Barkley led the game-winning drive in front of one of the largest and most hostile crowds in the country in only his second start. He also went to Cal and threw two touchdown passes — all while the student section was throwing everything at him except a Zinedine Zidane head-butt. I’m pretty sure we all know how he’s going to react.
He might have said a few other things, yet those above are the sentences that I understood — he sounds like he has marbles in his mouth.
I’m not judging Holtz’s character or debating whether he’s a nice guy. But he’s definitely not suitable to be on the air, especially on ESPN. With him gone, my college football Saturdays would be perfect.
“Spittin’ Sports” runs Fridays. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or email Kenny at firstname.lastname@example.org.