Lou Holtz made a name for himself as a reputable college football head coach at NC State, Arkansas, Notre Dame, and South Carolina, to name a few stops, leading the Fighting Irish to a national championship in 1988 and eventually landing in the College Football Hall of Fame. He followed up his coaching career with a stint as an analyst with ESPN where he made a name for himself for his “pep talks,” College Football Final banter, and the occasional bad comment.

He left ESPN in 2015 and since then has made a name for himself by making questionable and controversial statements. His public endorsement of then-Republican nominee Donald Trump certainly raised some eyebrows. He doubled down on that by appearing at the Republican National Convention where, in keeping with his endorsement, he made some extremely insensitive comments about immigrants.

Betsy Woodruff of The Daily Beast wrote a story on Holtz’s appearance. The title of the article read “Lou Holtz at RNC Said Immigrants are Deadbeats Invading the U.S.”

Speaking at a luncheon the Republican National Coalition for Life hosted during the RNC to honor Phyllis Schlafly, Holtz said the high number of immigrants coming to the U.S. constitutes an “invasion.” And he said new immigrants need to assimilate better. Holtz added that his grandparents learned English after immigrating to the U.S. from Ukraine, and insisted his family learn it as well. New immigrants to this country, he continued, need to learn and speak English and “become us.”

“I don’t want to become you,” he continued. “I don’t want to speak your language, I don’t want to celebrate your holidays, I sure as hell don’t want to cheer for your soccer team!”

The crowd laughed and applauded.

Afterward, Holtz apparently complained and the title was changed to “Holtz Goes on Immigrant-Bashing RNC Rant.” They also issued a correction, stating that Holtz “did not say that immigrants are ‘deadbeats,’ and we sincerely regret this error.”

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Holtz remains unhappy with the article and its new headline and has now filed a defamation lawsuit against The Daily Beast. Per the lawsuit, Holtz claims that the revised headline still portrays his comments “falsely” and was too little, too late after dozens of other outlets repeated the original verbiage. Holtz claims to have lost speaking gigs and suffered “mental anguish … personal humiliation and distress.” He is seeking more than $75,000 in damages.

As for his specific comments, Holtz’s suit claims he was relaying advice from his grandmother, who was herself an immigrant, on the importance of assimilation. As for saying he didn’t want to “cheer for your soccer team,” his attorneys claim that it was “a joke that you would expect to hear from a lifelong football fan, football coach, and football commentator.” They also argue that the Daily Beast article reframed Holtz’s appearance from a focus on abortion opposition into a speech that was “mean-spirited and related to bashing immigrants.”

The onus is now on Holtz and his legal team to prove that The Daily Beast was negligent in their reporting and use of “deadbeats” in the original title. It could be a tough claim to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, given the context of the speech and Holtz’s comments made elsewhere about immigrants and other groups.

However, it’s also entirely possible that this lawsuit will end up getting settled, as can often happen, in order to alleviate legal costs and move forward.

[Orlando Sentinel]

About Sean Keeley

A graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse related things for SB Nation, Neighborhoods.com, Curbed Seattle and many other outlets. He currently lives in Chicago.

  • PAI

    “he made some extremely insensitive comments about immigrants.”

    What the Christ was insensitive about any of that? He’s bringing up a perfectly valid and factual point that earlier immigrants were more willing to jump into the melting pot. Even the most liberal of people have got to observe that its a lot different now, and having things in 20 languages out of need doesn’t mean it got better.

    • TriCuriousGeorge

      I’m sorry that you have to “push 1 for English”. I hope you will be able to overcome the oppression.

      • PAI

        Whether I feel “oppressed” for that or not (I’ve never even encountered this before – so nice assumption), does that make us a better country?

        • CRC

          Yes. Immigrants do make it a better country. Most of them come here and work hard to contribute to our society while building a good life for themselves and their families. This country has always been a country of immigrants. I don’t know where you live, but i live in a major city and i know a lot of immigrants and each one of them are proud to be here and work hard to make their lives better. I am glad they’re here.

          • Hephaestus

            Are they legal? Because that is really the only debate anyone needs to be having. If someone can get 20 years for weed, we really need to start enforcing immigration laws. I feel like we’re getting lost in all of the xenophobic crap when we really need to be saying, “Legal? Stay. Illegal? Back home.”

          • JasonUH

            We can both get rid of draconian drug laws and implement rational immigration policy. Connecting the two makes no sense.

          • CRC

            Amen.

          • Hephaestus

            Well, let’s see: one is a law. The other is a law. Oh, but we should just start breaking laws. Now, I get it. Anarchy! BREAK IT ALL DOWN!!!! WOOOOOOHOOOOO!!!

          • JasonUH

            That is unassailable logic. Well done.

          • CRC

            If you would just open your eyes and see these folks want the same life as everyone else. Whether you open your eyes or not, it isn’t going to change. A little less judgment and hate would go a long way.

          • Hephaestus

            Come here legally. We allow people in legally. LEGALLY. Why is that such a bad word?

        • TriCuriousGeorge

          Our country is failing because “push 1 for English”… OMG you poor victim!! The oppression is real!! How will you get out of bed in the morning???

          • PAI

            Where did I say the country was failing due to that? I asked “does that make us a better country”. Should I just go on ad-hominem attacks because that gets upvotes in this echo chamber?

          • TriCuriousGeorge

            Oy vey you are still triggered because “push 1 for English”. Wow. I hope you will be ok! Please find an adult and ask for help getting to your safe space.

    • JasonUH

      It’s not uncommon for first generation immigrants, regardless of the era, to not learn English. But in most cases, including Mexican immigrants to the U.S., virtually everyone in subsequent generations speak English. It likely doesn’t strike us that way because we have a constant influx of first generation immigrants.

  • Rock Lancaster

    A “reputable college football coach??” The guy left nearly every football program on probation.

  • Macunaima

    “making questionable and controversial statements”

    “public endorsement of then-Republican nominee Donald Trump”

    So he endorsed the candidate who won the election. Not sure how that’s “questionable” or “controversial.” Maybe get out of your bubble?

    • JWJ

      Exactly. This is a great example of the leftist media bias that is pervasive.

      This phrasing “His public endorsement of then-Republican nominee Donald Trump certainly raised some eyebrows.” would NEVER ever be used for any sports figure who endorsed Felonia von Pantsuit for President.

      Truly what a leftist bubble they live in.

  • Jim Dandy

    What a special snowflake Holtz is.