College football

Holtz: Irish have what it takes to win

2012-12-20T18:30:00Z 2012-12-21T01:19:04Z Holtz: Irish have what it takes to winBob Wienke South Bend Tribune nwitimes.com
December 20, 2012 6:30 pm  • 

Of course, former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz said it's good for college football when the Irish are winning.

But there are also fringe benefits for Holtz himself.

For instance, for the first time in the eight years he's been an ESPN studio analyst, waitresses at the restaurants he frequents actually want to talk football. Specifically, Notre Dame football.

"I didn't even know if they knew a football was blown up or stuffed," he quipped in typical Holtz fashion.

It happens too when Holtz is getting ready to board a flight.

"I get through security now a lot easier than I ever have before," he added.

Holtz, who turns 76 the day before ND's Jan. 7 BCS Championship game against Alabama, didn't limit his thoughts to food service and airport security. In fact, Holtz touched on a variety of topics Wednesday during an hour-long conference call.

• On ND starting quarterback Everett Golson: "I think he has matured. He has developed. He has unbelievable poise. He doesn't get flustered. He doesn't make bad decisions. You aren't going to pressure him into throwing a bad ball. He's very difficult to sack.

"Remember (Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny) Manziel giving an awful lot of problems to Alabama? I think Golson does the same thing. He doesn't have the speed of Johnny Manziel, but he's not slow by any stretch of the imagination. He just has a great presence."

• On the media exposure Notre Dame has received this season: "I think if I was coaching Alabama, I would be a little bit upset. Here we are, defending national champs. We've won two of the last three national championships, and you never hear about them.

"The only thing you hear about is Notre Dame. There's only one team playing in this game. I turn on the TV and I see nothing but specials on Notre Dame. You never see anything about Alabama, and I just think Alabama is going to sit there and say that ‘we get no respect at all.’ That's what's going to be interesting about this game. I think it's a great matchup. I think it's going to be a lot closer than people think."

• On his preseason thoughts about the Irish: "Watching the spring game, I was very impressed with Everett Golson. He reminded me so much of Tony Rice as far as being in control of everything. I thought they had an excellent offensive line coming back. I did not know their defense would be as good as it has been. And if you look at the preceding year, Notre Dame had an excellent football team. Nobody really beat Notre Dame the year before. Notre Dame beat themselves. You look at every game they lost, it was because of turnovers. It wasn't because somebody was better-coached, better-talented or anything else.”

• On how luck often plays a role in championship seasons: "You've got to be lucky to win a championship. I've said that all along. You've just got to be lucky.

"When things start happening, falling your way, they start getting a mentality, 'Hey, we're a team of destiny. This is meant to be.' They start building a confidence. All of a sudden the players start getting good accolades, the girls start smiling at them that haven't before, and all of a sudden, 'Hey, this is pretty nice. Let's keep this going.'"

• On the end of his tenure at Notre Dame: "You get on top, it feels pretty good and you say, ‘Let's not change anything.’ Well, you don't change anything, you don't have anything you're trying to aspire to. You have no reason to celebrate and you have no reason to get excited. When I left Notre Dame, I thought I was tired of coaching. I was not tired of coaching. I was tired of maintaining.

"The dumbest thing I did, we should have set standards that nobody thought was possible. You get pulled and tugged in so many different directions, and that's the thing I regret. Don't maintain. We maintained it well, but that was a mistake."

• On whether ND can back get to the point where it is competing for the national championship every year: "It is back. I promise you right now. Brian Kelly has much of his football team coming back. I'll guarantee you, now that they're in the championship game, Notre Dame people expect that each and every year."

For more coverage of Notre Dame football, go to www.NDinsider.com.

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