Fightin’ words from ESPN analyst HoltzWritten by Matt Sussman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanksgiving had yet to come to a night’s close when the peaceful borough of Northwest Ohio was disturbed by the fightin’ words of one old little man on the television.
For those who aren’t in tune with ESPN college football analyst Lou Holtz and his pep talk schtick, every Thursday night he dresses up as the coach of a school whose football team has a big game coming up that following Saturday and enacts a curiously enchanting hypothetical speech. In this case it was for previously unbeaten Kansas, who had to play its rival, then-No. 4 Missouri. He prefaced the talk with American history about actual battles between Kansas and Missouri during the Civil War, and this nugget: “Only twice have states gone to war with one another. One of them was Ohio and Michigan, where they had a boundary dispute over Toledo. That history doesn’t record who won the war, but we have to assume Michigan did, because nobody would fight to keep Toledo.”
If anyone needed proof that I will make an excellent persnickety old coot one day, Thursday night was evidence enough. After that comment, I yelled at the TV. No fooling, I seriously hurled an obscenity in the general direction of my inanimate electronic device, in the hopes it would relay the message back to Holtz.
But that’s not how televisions work. Fortunately, I had a “Web-log” and Photoshop, which calmed my nerves.
So the “Nobody would fight to keep Toledo” sound byte is over a week old, and it’s time to get over it. Well, except for those who just read the quote for the first time, in which case you have seven days because the joke, to an impartial listener, was actually pretty funny and well delivered. It’s one I’ve made in the past, but it’s OK because Toledo’s my native town. (Corollary to that same joke: In the peace treaty, Ohio took Toledo, but Michigan had to annex the U.P.)
And Holtz’s upbringing explains it all. He was born in East Liverpool and went to Kent State. Ergo that side of the state; the one with all the lake-effect snow. Poor guys. No wonder they’re jealous.
And all things considered, Holtz was a tremendous coach in his day. He led Notre Dame to its most recent national championship in 1988. But his final game as a head coach didn’t go so well. In 2004, his South Carolina Gamecocks got into a huge on-field fight with Clemson, resulting in SC banning itself from a bowl game that year. Plus, his beloved Notre Dame football team went 3-9 this year when — if you went by Holtz’s predictions — they should have gone 12-0.
So now he spends his days on ESPN playing dress-up, pretending he was still the coach of teams like Kansas and Notre Dame.
For more of Holtz’s unresolved issues with Toledo, let’s gander at a 2005 story from The Blade that sportswriter Maureen Fulton dug up and cited on her blog. Two years ago, Holtz came to Toledo for a speaking event, where he reminisced over the 1970 Tangerine Bowl. In that game, he coached William & Mary to a 40-12 loss care of our Toledo Rockets.
So these previous events weave quite a tapestry that depicts nothing but envy for our fair city of Toledo. He hates us for our intrinsic awesomeness, and is taking it out on us. With nothing else in the sports world going his way right now, the poor little dude could sure use a pep talk.
Visit Matt Sussman’s sports blog at www.futonreport.net.