Former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz has never lost his love for the Fighting Irish years after leaving the sidelines in South Bend, Indiana. And who can blame him? Holtz was at the helm of the last era of sustained success for the Irish that saw Notre Dame regularly in the national title conversation. As far as Holtz is concerned, his team was overlooked and snubbed a few times.
A Notre Dame football helmet up for auction features a signature by Holtz accompanied by a note about the 1988 national champions, much like a hall of famer might add “H.O.F.” to their signature. Such signatures from Holtz have become common over the years, but this particular signature is a bit more unique as Holtz goes just a little further with describing his legacy by pointing out multiple seasons Holtz thinks Notre Dame was given a raw deal.
Quite the inscription from Lou Holtz ?
— Steiner Insider (@SteinerInsider) October 11, 2017
Notre Dame won the national championship in 1988 and looked to have another one coming their way the following season. After spending the majority of the season ranked No. 1 in the AP poll in 1989, Notre Dame was defeated on the road by Miami in 1989. Notre Dame fell to No. 4 and went on to defeat No. 1 Colorado in the Orange Bowl, but No. 2 Miami was awarded the AP national championship after topping No. 7 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
Notre Dame went 9-3 in 1990 while Georgia Tech and Colorado split the national title, but Holtz feels his Irish should have beaten No. 1 Colorado in the Orange Bowl that year. A potential go-ahead touchdown on a punt return by Raghib “Rocket” Ismail was wiped off the board due to a clipping penalty on the return.
In 1993, Notre Dame finished the season with the No. 2 ranking behind No. 1 Florida State. The Seminoles celebrated the national title following a victory over No. 2 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. The Noles finished the year with the same record as Notre Dame, and Notre Dame won a head-to-head matchup in mid-November between the top two-ranked teams in the nation. So you can understand why Holtz would feel his team deserved at least a share of the national title in 1993.
It’s good to see Holtz still holds a few grudges to this day.