Lou Holtz gets a lot of mail from Notre Dame fans. He also apparently gets a lot of his responses re-delivered to him in celebration of points he made in late August.
It was then, in correspondence, that the last coach to win a national title with the Irish proclaimed that the 2012 version had a chance to achieve something similar.
“These Notre Dame fans have been waiting for years to be able to jump up and scream and holler,” Holtz said on a teleconference Wednesday. “When Notre Dame is on top, college football is better.
“I’ve been going to ESPN for eight years, there are about six restaurants I go and eat in. For the first time, I’ve had waitresses go, ‘Boy that’s a great year for Notre Dame!’ I didn’t even know if they knew the ball was blown up or stuffed.”
The man who led the program to the 1988 championship then warned current Irish coach Brian Kelly about a problem Kelly would love to have after the BCS title game against Alabama on Jan. 7: The perils of reaching the pinnacle at Notre Dame.
It was the message that Ara Parseghian passed to Holtz that Holtz then passed to Kelly: Life is never the same after a championship
“What happens is, when you win it, everybody puts you on a pedestal,” Holtz said. “Once you’re on the pedestal, no matter what you do, it ain’t good enough. We finished second in the country, everyone called me an idiot. The guy who finishes last in medical school, they call him ‘doctor.’ ”
Coincidentally, Kelly was named the Associated Press coach of the year on Wednesday, the first Irish coach to win that honor. And that served the dynamic Holtz discussed.
“You get on top, you say this is pretty good, let’s not change anything,” Holtz said. “If you don’t change anything, you don’t have anything you’re trying to aspire to. … When I left Notre Dame, I thought I was tired of coaching. I was not tired of coaching. I was tired of maintaining.