In the wake of South Florida’s 23-20 win at Notre Dame Saturday, it sure feels like the storm that delayed the game twice for a total of nearly three hours is actually still hovering over South Bend. How’s that for a hacky lede, eh?
Brian Kelly’s Fighting Irish were truly awful and played right into the hands of the USF team very committed to playing Holtzball. Notre Dame outgained USF almost 2 to 1, but five turnovers later, the Irish were toast. And they STILL only lost by three.
“Holtzball,” for those of you who don’t know, is basically a football strategy in which the Holtzball team does absolutely nothing in terms of actively trying to win, but rather does a very good job of keeping the game an ugly stalemate and waits for the non-Holtzball team to screw up. Which Notre Dame did, gloriously if you’re a USF fan. Or a Notre Dame hater.
The only other way to win as a Holtzball team is to fall way behind and come back in a legend-making performance. Kind of a shortage of those in South Bend lately.
That whole gameplan might sound familiar to Notre Dame fans who still cherish Lou Holtz’s memory as the Domers’ coach like he was Bear Bryant, John Heisman, and Knute Rockne all in one and never lost a game. The man never found an easily winnable game he couldn’t ugly up with stout-but-not-too-stout defense and arch-conservative offense.
Yesterday’s debacle might even have made Notre Dame fans wish they’d hired Lou’s son Skip Holtz to run the program after Charlie Weis was fired. Then they’d at least get the ugly, underdog team every Notre Dame fan wants to be anyway.
After all, you’re only going to get good Holtzball from the source, not from clones like Bob Davie.
At least then there’s no excuses about Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees still getting used to Kelly’s offensive system or having a lack of depth at the critical wide receiver position. Or speculation about why Kelly pulled Crist during that extended halftime.
To be fair to Notre Dame, it was just a bad game in a freaky situation. These things happen. And the Lou Holtz Era had more than a few awful losses of its own.
Brian Kelly year two is off to an exceedingly embarrassing start. And I’m ignoring Kelly’s sideline meltdown that everyone has shown tons of times already. I bet you can find much worse things coming from the fans at the same point in the game. Or from me right about the third quarter of Indiana-Ball State.
So this is me trying to cause an uprising at Notre Dame. We’d all be better off with a Holtz back at Notre Dame. Things have gotten so screwed up there that they’ve lost what made them Notre Dame in the modern era in the first place: being underdogs. Now they’re just bad.
Notre Dame should hire yet another alumnus in Skip Holtz when they get a chance. It’s the good parts of Charlie Weis and Lou Holtz all without the weird, spready finesse of Brian Kelly and the utter humorlessness of the Willingham era.
Plus now, the Irish fans just want to win nine games a year or so. There’s no pressure to win 13 like there was on Willingham and early on in Weis’s tenure. Maybe Brian Kelly can deliver that this year, but you’d be guaranteed eight or nine wins every year with Holtzball and very little more.
Ready to make a deal with the devil, Irish fans?