Former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz fired back at Ohio State’s Ryan Day on Tuesday, saying he understands why the Buckeyes coach went after him following the team’s 17-14 win over the Irish on Saturday.
Appearing on Dan Dakich’s “Don’t @ Me” podcast, Holtz said: “(Day) doesn’t want to talk about Michigan, 0-2. He doesn’t want to talk about the big game coming up against Penn State and against Michigan again.
“He’s a great coach. He’s done a tremendous job. He’s a great offensive mind … Ohio State’s a good football team. I don’t think they’re a great football team. He can go after me all he wants.”
Ahead of Saturday’s game, Holtz questioned Ohio State’s toughness during an appearance on the “The Pat McAfee Show,” claiming that being pushed around by more physical teams was a theme in the Buckeyes’ losses under Day.
“Notre Dame is a better football team than Ohio State,” Holtz said Friday. “You look at coach (Ryan) Day … he has lost to Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Michigan twice, and everybody who beats them does so because they’re more physical than Ohio State.”
On the field after Ohio State’s last-second win, Day became emotional, praising his team’s “toughness” and calling out Holtz.
“I’d like to know where Lou Holtz is right now. What he said about our team, I cannot believe,” Day said. “This is a tough team right here. We’re proud to be from Ohio … It’s always been Ohio against the world and it will continue to be Ohio against the world.”
“I honestly felt that Notre Dame was a better football team and more physical and I’m sorry that coach Day was offended by it,” Holtz added Tuesday. “I hope he goes on and has a wonderful year … I don’t think they’ll be a great football team, I really don’t. I felt Notre Dame won the football game.”
Meek: Ryan Day is eager to defend Ohio State’s toughness. Can he prove it vs. Michigan?
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
Are Holtz’s criticisms fair?
While Holtz’s comments are fair criticisms of Day and the state of Ohio State’s program, he isn’t completely accurate. Day is 1-2 against Michigan, beating the Wolverines in his first year as head coach 56-27. Most of the talk about Day having a “soft” program comes from the two losses the last two years, which is why he specifies 0-2.
In the last two meetings, Ohio State has been outscored 49-17 in the second half and given up 430 rushing yards in the second half of both games. Day’s comments seem to have been well received by fans and in the program, but the “soft” term that critics have used to describe the program since losing those games to Michigan isn’t going away if Day loses to Michigan for a third time in a row. — Teague-Robinson
(Photo: Matt Cashore / USA Today)