Saturday, November 17, 2012

The green blood of Lou Holtz

Louis Leo Holtz has always been a pretty slick dude. He's been a lot of places, made a lot of people feel good, then rode off into the sunset -- straight for the next gig -- and greener pastures, in more ways than one.

No doubt Holtz has an admirable record as a college head football coach. 249-132-7 over the course of 36 years is impressive indeed. It took Lou many jobs at diferent schools to accomplish that feat, and now that he's almost 76 years old, it appears he remains loyal to only one. It should be no great surprise, and I'll get back that.

Holtz coached at William and Mary (1969-71), then North Carolina State (72-75), then Arkansas (77-83, then Minnesota (84-85), then Notre Dame (86-96), and then finally South Carolina (99-04). Notice the year 1976 was not included in that resume. That's because Holtz decided to give the pros a whirl, coaching the New York Jets that year. They were 3-10, the ever-present hounds in NY were nipping at his heels, and he resigned, with one game left in the season. Like Steve Spurrier, some guys are terrific college coaches, but are clueless when they get to the pros as a head coach, even if they were a former player. Apples and oranges.

Holtz has also been a motivational speaker for quite some time -- for anybody that wants to pony up the bucks to get him to appear. Yours truly had the privilege of being in the audience for one of those speeches many moons ago. By the time he was done, Lou had everybody wanting to work together as "teammates", and we were all revved up to charge back out into the real world and make a difference.

But not long after it was all over, when Lou had likely departed in his limo to board a jet for his next high-paying gig, many of us looked at each other and realized we'd been given the equivalent of one of those instant energy drinks. It makes you feel good for a short while, but there's very little substance to it in the long run.

Now Holtz is on ESPN as a college football analyst. Whenever Lou is talking on the air, it's a pretty safe bet Notre Dame will be part of his dialogue. Despite all the other stops he's made in his career, progressively collecting more and more of the "green stuff", there's something about Notre Dame which still enchants him, even though it's been 16 years since he roamed those sidelines. Once indoctrinated with a transfusion of Irish blood, it seems to have lifelong after effects. Hence, his only seeming loyalty.

Holtz is predicting Stanford will beat Oregon this Saturday and Kansas State will lose to Texas next weekend. Of course he is. The only way his beloved Notre Dame can reach the title game is if one of those teams loses. It's nothing more than thinly disguised bias.

Somehow, Lou Holtz even became a member of the prestigious Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters tournament. This is a club that includes the likes of Lions' owner William Clay Ford, auto racing magnate Roger Penske, beer baron Peter Coors, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, investment genius Warren Buffet, former Secretaries of Defense, State, and Treasury, and a couple golfers named Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, amongst many other notables. As the story goes, one is not allowed to campaign for a membership in that club. If one does, they will immediately be removed from the "potential" list from the powers that be at Augusta. It comes about by invitation only, based on the merits of such a candidate, as deemed appropriate by the infinite wisdom of the tribal elders. Right.

Lou Holtz seems to be all about the green. He's made scads of money coaching football, giving pep-talks here and there, and for whatever reason has become a member of a prestigious golf club that is famous for its green jackets.

And now he's cha-chinging ESPN for even more greenbacks, while trying to find a reason why his Shamrock Kids of yesteryear will somehow wind up in the title game. It's certainly possible, but yours truly hopes it doesn't happen, if for no other reason than the shameless hype. Hey, has everybody forgotten that the real Notre Dame is a cathedral in France, and has nothing to to with Ireland? Hello?  But I guess somewhere along the line the people in South Bend decided the "Fighting French" wouldn't work for them. Go figure.

Still, some may compare Lou Holtz to an STD. Being a eunuch myself, I don't completely understand these things, but from what I've heard, just one little moment of pleasure, much less 11 years at Notre Dame, can sometimes turn into a very bad thing that never goes away.

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