By Dan LeBatard
January 23, 1990
We will begin our national championship tribute to the University of Miami by talking about Lou Holtz, not because this is another column ripping the helpless Notre Dame coach with a lisp, you understand, but rather because it was just oodles of fun seeing him squirm at a podium Jan. 1.
There he was, drenched in sweat and glory, yelling at reporters after his team beat No. 1 Colorado, 21-6. His voice became loud, angry almost, as he proclaimed that his team– a mighty, invincible force that had been beaten by only 27 points one month earlier– was the best in the country.
And some reporters at the back of the room, objective purveyors of truth that they are, began chuckling.Sorry Louie, they thought, but you can’t spell loser without the Lou.
I like Lou Holtz. Really. He’s smart, has a one-liner for every occasion and is a man of deep-rooted faith. He is a masterful coach, a wonderful strategist and a supreme motivator. And, because of these great qualities, he whole-heartedly deserves, more than anyone else on this planet, to be second best. I mean it. Congratulations Lou, you stud.
Your fabulous 12-1 record, which represents more victories than anyone else’s in the country, was enough to rightfully earn you a No.2 spot. Unless, of course, you go by the coaches’ poll, which ranks you third behind Miami and Florida “we lost to Southern Mississippi but would very much appreciate it if you voters just forgot about that” State.
But, hey, what do the coaches know? Hell, Lou, isn’t that the poll you vote in? Well, then, that proves your point, doesn’t it? That poll can’t be valid.
And, for that matter, what do sports writers know? They voted you No. 2, despite acknowledging that your team had the best record and the toughest schedule in the country. Aren’t sports writers the same evil folks who had the audacity (the ignorance, even) to print that you told your team that the Buffalos were “living a lie” because they were playing their games, and crediting their victories, to the memory of Sal Aunese, the starting quarterback who died of cancer before the season.
Oh sure, you most certainly made the “living a lie” comment, along with many other inflammatory remarks, but what right does that give the public to know? You were, after all, showing your true side in what you thought was a private team huddle.
You can continue being holy now. We will make sure that the television reporter who eavesdropped on your searing motivational speech has a comfy, warm spot waiting for him in the fiery depths of Hell.
The reason Holtz bothers me a bit is because I find it awfully contradictory the way he preaches holiness and then has his team play like a bunch of taunting, out of control maniacs. Not that there is anything wrong with this style of emotional play (hell, the University of Miami’s entire frenzied defensive philosophy is founded on it), but I am a bit troubled by Holtz’s hypocrisy.
He is a big fan of contradiction. No, I take that back. He is a puny fan of contradiction who is also unattractive.
How can he say that his team “might not even play in a bowl game” because it interferes with final exams and, then, two months later, suspend two players who missed some practices because they were committing the heinous crime of (PLEASE LEAVE THE ROOM NOW IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH! THIS IS AN ATROCIOUS TRANSGRESSION!) studying?
I figure that it is about time for perceptions to change, about time for Holtz and the Fighting Irish to be held accountable for their actions (drunk driving, imprisonment, etc.). Their golden helmets have been somewhat tarnished by off-the-field incidents and, if you must give them a team symbol, a pitchfork might be a little more appropriate than a halo.
Dan LeBatard graduated from UM in 1990. He graduated with a BA in journalism and political science. Currently, he is a sports columnist for The Miami Herald.