Holtz is gone, let's move on
By CAPPY GAGNON
Last week, Observer readers were treated to yet another diatribe by someone lamenting that Lou Holtz is no longer coaching football at Notre Dame. Can't we put a statute of limitations on these? Someone should also run a cross-check of the persons who write these type of letters. I wonder what percentage of these letter-writers also wrote complaint letters about Holtz himself, because he didn't throw the ball enough to the tight end or for committing some other fan-felony.
Lou Holtz did some wonderful things for Notre Dame, and for that, we should all be grateful, but Lou Holtz is not bigger than Notre Dame (and was often quoted as saying that). He stayed one year too long. For some reason, Lou has had a history of keeping his self-destruct button in the "ready" position. Lou was not fired. He resigned. Don't take my word for it. Read his published comments from that time, especially his comment that he might have made a different decision if he had been able to confer with either his wife (who was ill) or his son (who was busy coaching in Connecticut). Read also the public comments by Holtz, later echoed by athletic director Mike Wadsworth, that Holtz was told, in his annual evaluation, that he could stay at Notre Dame, as long as he followed the rules. Sounds like a lifetime contract to me. That Lou took it as lifetime probation is his problem, not Mike Wadsworth's. And, does anyone in addition to Lou Holtz think Randy Moss would have been a good fit for Notre Dame? An a recent story out of Minneapolis, Lou was STILL expressing regrets that Moss did not enroll at Notre Dame.
Our most recent Holtz apologist stated that Wadsworth lied about the Holtz resignation, while also mentioning that Holtz took a new job within days. Since Holtz had his new job in place MUCH quicker than Notre Dame was able to hire a replacement coach, who does it seem was the schemer in that drama?
Thank goodness that Bob Davie, handpicked by Lou Holtz, was available when Holtz dragged out his resignation, putting Mike Wadsworth in the uncomfortable position of needing a head coach in place quickly because of the upcoming recruiting season. Davie was one of the most sought-after young coaches in the country when Notre Dame inked him, although, like Knute Rockne and Joe Paterno, he had no previous head coaching experience
Our letter-whiner went on to ding Davie for the Joe Moore case. How any jury could believe that Notre Dame practices age discrimination is beyond me. One need only look at how many persons are employed on campus despite being way beyond the tradition retirement age.
Be that as it may, the jury apparently chose to focus on two words which may or may not have been spoken by Coach Davie. I have a completely different take on the matter. Joe Moore smoked at practice, between assaulting players and ridiculing Holtz, and REFUSED to participate in the recruiting duties assigned to all coaches. After watching a 60-yard team rushing effort against the Air Force Academy, Holtz took over some of the offensive line coaching duties from Moore. There were indications that Holtz, had he remained, was going to retire Moore. Considering his résumé and great success at Notre Dame, why has Joe Moore NOT been picked up by another college or NFL team? Are they all practicing age discrimination?
Nobody except Davie and Moore know exactly was spoken between the two of them, but we do know two things. The first is that Bob Davie visited Joe Moore, face to face, man to man, and told him he could no longer continue on the coaching staff. Davie COULD have left a message on Moore's answering machine, as USC did when they fired John Robinson, one of their head coaching legends. I personally admire Davie for doing the manly thing. The other thing we know is that Joe Moore had a long phone call with Tim Prister, the editor of Blue and Gold. Tim Prister is the most knowledgeable and most objective person covering Notre Dame football today. Prister has reported in his newspaper that Moore was very upset at being fired and complained about Davie and a lot of other things. Prister also reported that these complaints did NOT include any reference to age. Moore suddenly remembered THAT little thing after some Notre Dame basher put him in touch with a public relations firm and law firm.
Our latest letter-whiner also stated that Wadsworth lied about John MacLeod's resignation. IF, Wadsworth felt that eight years of losing, with no sign of improvement, was enough reason to make a change in head basketball coaches, and, IF Wadsworth chose to tell MacLeod he had the option to resign, is that so terrible?
EVERYONE who knows John MacLeod, knows he is a fine man. ALL of his players were disappointed when his tenure ended. Ask them now, how they feel about Coach Matt Doherty. Two points they have made are that Doherty's practices are more intense and more based upon learning his system and correcting errors. MOST importantly, he asks the players about how school is going and has taken corrective action for players missing school assignments.
I have known Mike Wadsworth for 38 years. We are classmates. It is doubtful that there were any members of our class better respected. Mike has carried himself with dignity and class for his entire life. You can't fake that to people who've watched from your youth. Mike is a gentleman. Mike has NEVER defended himself to these letter-whiners, and he'll probably tell me I shouldn't have written this, but I hate to see a good friend mistreated. He is a TRUE Notre Dame man. If our latest letter-whiner had one tenth the dignity of Wadsworth, he wouldn't be so graceless in attacking him. Come to think of it, our letter-whiner should "get a life."
Cappy Gagnon graduated in '66. His column appears every other Monday.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Monday, November 8, 1999