“I’d like to know where Lou Holtz is right now.”
This was the comment head coach Ryan Day told Kathryn Tappen in his NBC post-game interview Saturday after No. 6 Ohio State defeated No. 9 Notre Dame 17-14 in the final seconds.
Typically, Day is calm, cool and collected. But right now, he is the talk of the sports world over his emotional — and seemingly out-of-character — comments towards the 86-year-old former Notre Dame coach and CBS analyst.
But Holtz fired first.
Holtz appeared as a guest on ESPN College GameDay’s The Pat McAfee Show Saturday and was asked a series of questions ahead of the top-10 matchup in South Bend, Indiana.
When asked about the Fighting Irish’s “massive” test against the Buckeyes, Holtz responded in a way that didn’t sit well with Day and his team.
“Notre Dame is a better football team than Ohio State,” Holtz said. “He [Day] has lost to Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Michigan — twice, and everybody [who] beats them does so because they’re more physical than Ohio State. And I think Notre Dame will take that same approach.”
Holtz went on to say he believed “in his heart” that Notre Dame would win by 10 points.
Day was privy to Holtz’s message, as well as others that he did not specify, and had words of his own.
After Buckeye senior running back Chip Trayanum punched it in the end zone for the win, Day and Ohio State were overcome by pride and emotion.
The biggest thing on his mind? Holtz’s comments about his team’s physicality, or lack thereof.
“I’d like to know where Lou Holtz is right now,” Day said on NBC. “What he said about our team, what he said about our team, I cannot believe. This is a tough team right here. We’re proud to be from Ohio and it’s always been Ohio against the world.”
Day headed to the locker room while repeatedly throwing his arms in the air as a means to pump up the crowd. His energy continued into the post-game press conference.
“I don’t know where he [Holtz] gets off saying those types of things. I don’t — I don’t,” Day said. “I mean, I have some other things I’d like to say, too, but I’m not gonna say that because I’m more respectful than he is.”
Day said before calling his team out for not being tough, “put the film on.”
“The guts of our team to go and win that game on the road, you’re gonna tell me this team’s not physical and not tough — you’re wrong,” Day said. “We’re not gonna stand for that because that’s not even close to true.”
Junior quarterback Kyle McCord has faced a lot of scrutiny since being named the starting quarterback Sept. 12. He said he heard the noise, too, and Day was valid in the emotions he felt.
“That’s definitely the most animated I’ve ever seen him and rightfully so,” McCord said Saturday post-game. “I’d be lying if I said that that didn’t bother us. And I think we came out here and I think we proved a lot of people wrong, but the bigger thing is, I think we proved ourselves right.”
College football analysts weigh in
Saturday’s post-game interview quickly became controversial.
Analysts scattered across the college football world took to podcasts, shows and YouTube Monday to share their opinions on the Day-Holtz situation.
Brady Quinn, a Fox Sports analyst and co-host of Big Noon Kickoff appeared on the 2 Pros and a Cup of Joe Fox Sports Radio show. He said Day’s response was both “bizarre” and “so odd.”
“That’s your first words? You don’t talk about your team? Your players? Anything that stood out to you?” Quinn said. “ That’s where you want to save all that emotion for? To go off on an 86-year-old coach who’s not even a part of it anymore?”
Paul Finebaum, an ESPN writer and columnist, said on The Matt Barrie Show he doubts Holtz cares about anything Day had to say about him.
ESPN’s College GameDay host Rece Davis also responded and said he is “very concerned” about the way Day reacted. He said on the ESPN College GameDay podcast that maybe Day misheard Holtz’s statement, though Day made it clear in his comments that he did.
“I’m very concerned because of this,” Davis said. “I’m not sure Ryan was certain what the target of his anger should be. Because I’m not certain that Ryan knew exactly what he heard.”
Tuesday on the Don’t @ Me with Dan Dakich livestream, Holtz was a guest and said he stands by what he said about Day and the Buckeyes.
“I don’t feel bad about saying it because I believe it, and Notre Dame was the better football team,” Holtz said. “Ohio State’s a good football team, I don’t think they’re a great football team. And he can go after me all he wants.”
He said the final play was simply luck.
“I’m sorry that coach Day was offended by it and I hope he goes on and has a wonderful year,” Holtz said. “Notre Dame won the football game, all he had to do was fall on the ball. In the last two minutes, Dan, the opposition was not Ohio State, the opposition was the clock.”
Day has not responded to Holtz’s latest comments and he had no press conference Tuesday due to Ohio State’s bye week.