Lou Holtz Retiring From ESPN; Six Moments That Capture His Television Career (w/ VIDEO)
I am a Notre Dame graduate, class of 1991, and I say all the time that I owe at least seven of the ten best memories I have from college to Lou Holtz.
Photo by Shotgun Spratling/Neon Tommy Forever "the coach".
Holtz was the head football coach at Notre Dame while I was there. He arrived in South Bend in 1986, a year before I got there. (Hint: One of us arrived to massive fanfare. The other arrived with a case of beer and a poster of Miss Elizabeth.)
Also, to be fair, I make the same "seven out of ten" crack when anyone mentions Tim Brown, Raghib Ismail, or Tony Rice (all on-field staples of the Holtz Era), so my "out of ten" math doesn't really work, but my point should be well taken -- Notre Dame football whooped ass while I was a student there from 1987 through 1991, highlighted by a national championship in 1988.
And Holtz was the man behind it all.
So the little fella with the wire rimmed glasses and the signature lisp was and always will be kind of a big deal to me. So when I saw that Coach Holtz (Law of Coaching: Even when you're a television personality, your title is still "Coach".) was planning on 2014 being his last season as part of ESPN's college football coverage, that saddened me a little bit.
At age 77, Holtz is not angling for another head coaching job (although if anyone has the energy to give it a go, it's probably him). My guess is that it's finally time to play a lot of golf, hang with grandchildren, and be a full time husband. (It has to be mentioned that Holtz's wife, Beth, has bravely battled throat cancer over the last several years.)
There will be another time and place to reflect on the coaching career of Lou Holtz, who was the master rebuilder, getting his teams to bowl games by his second year at all of his stops along the way, without fail. But for now, let's briefly reflect on the television character that was "Dr. Lou" and pay tribute.
When it comes to college football coverage on ESPN, I think Holtz will be fondly remembered (ok, maybe not fondly by everybody) for certain "bits," some of which were slathered in the one thing he will truly be remembered for -- his faux adversarial relationship with former Pitt and Washington Redskin offensive lineman Mark "May Day" May, as the two seemed to find new ways each week to call the other one "stupid." For some, it got old, but as long as you knew it was shtick (it was shtick, right?), it was pretty harmless.
As for the Holtzian bits, here are the ones that will likely retire along with the coach, or at least never be the same if they choose to keep those segments: