There’s a long history of football coaches, broadcasters, and other sports media members making questionable historical and military references. Lou Holtz, the long-time former college football head coach and former ESPN analyst, has his own history of that, particularly with “Ya know, Hitler was a great leader too” when questioning Rich Rodriguez’s start at Michigan back in 2008. (Holtz apologized, and was not suspended.) On Thursday, Holtz (who left ESPN in 2015; he’s since done work for Sirius XM and The Crowd’s Line, and he’s created a stir with political endorsements and political comments in spots like a luncheon around the 2016 Republican National Convention) appeared on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle to discuss the Big Ten choosing not to play out-of-conference games this year with host Laura Ingraham. That segment carried a “Football In Jeopardy In War On American Life” caption, and it saw Holtz make quite the historical reference:
Lou Holtz wants football to come back: "There's no way in this world you can do anything that's without a risk. People stormed Normandy" pic.twitter.com/WPSCFSpIAO
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) July 10, 2020
Here’s a partial transcription of Holtz’s overall appearance, via Charles Creitz’s Fox News writeup on it:
“When you’re in a leadership role, Laura, you have to look at things from both points of view. Look at it from the player’s point of view, as well as from a coach’s point of view,” Holtz said. “The way it is right now, they just don’t want to have sports and there’s no way in this world you can do anything in this world without a risk. People stormed Normandy … They knew there was going to be casualties, they knew there was going to be risk, but it was a way of life.”
…”But how are you going to have football when they don’t even want to have school? Notre Dame has said, ‘OK, we’re going to start on August 10.’ Now some of the faculty members have said, ‘It’s too risky, I don’t want to go.’ You have teachers unions saying we shouldn’t go back to school. The underprivileged, the people from the poor neighborhoods, where are they going to get an education? What has happened to our way of life?”
…Holtz then extolled the virtues of the sport, telling Ingraham that football is a “microcosm of life.”
“You learn about sacrifice, you learn about teamwork, getting along with other people. You learn to work on your skills, to make sacrifices, to make a total commitment to other people for the welfare of the overall team …”
“People want to be a part of something,” Holtz went on. “That’s how gangs came about. When they started deemphasizing athletics in schools, people starting joining a gang because young people want to be part of something. And you’re taking that away from them?”
There would seem to be quite a difference between the necessity of the invasion of Normandy during World War II and the necessity of playing out-of-conference NCAA football games in the middle of a pandemic. And as Holtz mentions there too, he does have a personal bias in favor of out-of-conference games; his son Skip is the head coach at Conference USA school Louisiana Tech, and losing out-of-conference road games (the Bulldogs are supposed to play the SEC’s Vanderbilt Commodores this year; the SEC hasn’t cancelled out-of-conference play yet, but is reportedly discussing that option) they’re paid to play can be a massive blow to Group of Five schools’ budgets.
At any rate, it’s certainly interesting to hear Holtz comparing out-of-conference NCAA games to D-Day. Perhaps he can get a NCAA recap show on The History Channel next.