With his latest ludicrous preseason prediction, Lou Holtz has officially crossed the line between "harmless old homer" and "certifiably insane."
Don't believe? Go ahead and enjoy this rambling bit of nonsense, where Holtz predicts—with a straight face, I might add—that Notre Dame will be facing Florida for the BCS Championship when January rolls around.
Mr. Holtz, we're going to need you to walk a straight line while reciting the alphabet backward.
What makes this clip so aggravating is the fact that Holtz makes some legitimate points about Florida and Utah in his opening remarks. He tells us that Urban Meyer's biggest challenge will be keeping Florida motivated, and that Utah might struggle with all of the talent lost due to graduation.
Then, he blindsides us with a fistful of crazy.
"If you ask me who's gonna play in the National Championship Game, I'd say Florida and the University of Notre Dame."
We get it Lou; you're just pulling our collective leg. Now, how about your real prediction?
"They only play one team in the top 37 preseason...I just look at the schedule and I say 'I think Notre Dame is focused, they had a great win. I just look for them to have one difficult game, and that's Southern Cal.'"
Give his prediction a careful second listening. You can hear the Sportscenter anchor laughing at Holtz offers his unique brand of wisdom.
Okay, I guess he wasn't joking.
Let me preface the remainder of this article by saying that I'm well aware that Lou Holtz has forgotten more about football than I could ever hope to know.
But...he's dead wrong here.
First, his assertion that Notre Dame only plays one team in the top 37 couldn't be farther from the truth. I can only assume that the 'one team' he's referring to is USC. Fair enough, that's going to be a difficult game.
But, all you need to refute his statement is a copy of the recently released AP Poll. We see both Pitt and Michigan State knocking on the door of the Top 25. They come in at 28 and 29, respectively. Last time I checked, 28 and 29 were higher rankings than 37.
Lou also claims that Boston College was picked to finish last in the ACC. Then perhaps he would like to explain why they're receiving preseason votes in the AP Poll? You can't have it both ways. Either they were picked to finish last, or some voters think that they're going to have a pretty decent season.
Let's move onto Lou's prediction that Notre Dame will struggle only against USC, leading to an 11-1 record at worst. For such a turnaround to take place, two things need to happen. First, Notre Dame needs to have significantly improved their on-field product from last season. Secondly, all of Notre Dame's opponents need to have taken a step back, or at least stagnated.
The Irish have improved, but if you honestly believe that every team that beat ND last year and remains on the schedule in 2009—Michigan State, Pitt, Boston College and USC—is going to be significantly easier to beat this year, then there are some politicians who would love to talk to you about death panels and euthanasia.
Michigan State's offense might have lost a couple of key players, but they retain their top four wide receivers. Oh yeah, the defense that held Notre Dame to an abysmal, embarrassing 16 yards rushing on 22 attempts has actually gotten better. Then there's the small fact that MSU has won six straight in South Bend.
It's funny how Lou forgot to mention Michigan State as being a tough game for Notre Dame. It seems like that's been a difficult game for well over a decade now.
I can't speak about Pitt or Boston College with any kind of authority, but I've got to imagine that USC will be more than ready for Notre Dame. Even though the Trojans lost a lot of talent to graduation, they aren't exactly working with a bare cupboard. Something tells me that the Irish won't be able to turn a 35-point loss into a victory.
The most incredible part of Holtz' ramblings is his ignorance of immediate history. Lou seems to be basing his predictions of success on the ancient history of Notre Dame, much like pollsters do every time they fill out a ballot. But, recent history tells us that Hawaii was the only .500-or-better opponent that Notre Dame beat last season. Recent history tells us that Charlie Weis could very realistically be outmatched on the sidelines in multiple games.
Most importantly, recent history tells us that when it comes to Notre Dame, tempering your expectations is the only prudent course of action. Didn't a few prominent Golden Domers predict 11 wins last season as well?
Notre Dame has a great chance at improving on their seven-win total from last season, but the jump from Hawaii Bowl to BCS Title Game is longer than what we've been seeing in Berlin this past week.
If the Irish have one loss or fewer after they play USC, then people will start taking their BCS aspirations seriously. If they stumble as has been the pattern in previous seasons, then non-Irish fans across the nation will gleefully rejoice as we watch Holtz rapidly retreat from his National Title prediction.
If Holtz is proved wrong yet again, then perhaps it's time that we all give him the Tom Izzo treatment.