Holtz Predicts Irish-Gators Title

Former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz predicted the Irish would be playing for the national championship against Florida on Saturday. (Photo - Icon SMI)

Former head coach Lou Holtz caused a little bit a stir in the blogosphere on Saturday when he predicted a Notre Dame-Florida national championship during an interview on ESPN.   Holtz’s prediction set off a firestorm of posts with clever titles using his “Dr. Lou” moniker.  In reality though, his reasoning isn’t completely ridiculous even if it might be unlikely.

On the surface it might sound crazy to predict that a team that has gone 10-15 the last two season will play for the national championship, but Holtz’s prediction was based mainly on two factors – Notre Dame returning talent and their schedule which has set up the Irish nicely in 2009.

Before we get too far into this, here is the video for those of you who may have missed it.

Now that we’ve all seen the video, let’s take a look at Lou’s argument.  He basis his prediction on Notre Dame playing for the title not on the fact that the Irish will be the 2nd best team in the country, but rather that they will be best team in the stadium each of the 12 weeks they play.  Considering Notre Dame will face just one team in the pre-season top 25 this year, that doesn’t seem completely unlikely.

If you look at the schedule, Notre Dame starts the season ranked higher than any opponent other than USC and as it stands now, would be favored in every game again other than USC.  Notre Dame has five of its first seven games at home with road trips to Michigan and Purdue –two teams the Irish beat handily a season ago.

On paper, Notre Dame should likely beat every team other than USC.  As we’ve learned all too well the past two seasons, however, the games aren’t played on paper.  In reality, Notre Dame would have to beat three teams that beat them a year ago and improve on their regular season win total by six games in order to finish the regular season undefeated with a chance to play in the title game.  That’s a mighty tall order especially considering one of those teams that beat Notre Dame last year, USC, did so to the tune of 38-3.

Holtz also mentions Notre Dame’s 10 returning starters on offense and 7 on defense (counting Harrison Smith, Kerry Neal, and Darrin Walls as returning starters) as well as the talent that is back on both sides of the ball.  This too makes sense Notre Dame will be returning arguably the most talented, experienced, and deep team since Holtz was the head coach.  At the same time, all of the returning starters are the same players that finished the 2008 season 7-6.

Even if Notre Dame did shock the world in 2009 and cruise through the regular season undefeated, they’d likely need a little help from other schools to make it into the title because of the previously mentioned light schedule.  Notre Dame is going to get hammered for the schedule all season long even though it’s not their fault that several respectable programs on this year’s schedule are likely headed for very down years.  That schedule is going to work against the Irish in the event that there would be three undefeated teams.

Also working against the Irish in this hypothetical debate are the current rankings.  Notre Dame sits at #23 in both polls.  Since the BCS was formed, only Ohio State (#11 in 2007), Virginia Tech (#13 in 1999), Oklahoma (#19 in 2000), Ohio State (#13 in 2002 and #11 in 2007), and LSU (#14 in 2003) have made it to the title game after starting the season outside the AP top 10 and none have made it all the way to the championship after starting the season outside the top 20.

Again, this is all also under the assumption that Notre Dame can improve its regular season win total by six – or in other words, double its regular season win total from 2008.  That’s another debate entirely though.

Still, as a Notre Dame fan, you have to love Lou’s optimism about the Irish in 2009.  Opposing fans won’t care for it too much, but that’s exactly why he is such a good analyst for ESPN.  He’ll have websites and blogs across the internet talking about this and watching ESPN for the next couple of days.

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  1. Here is a scenario which may bring a few smiles to some.
    The Date: November 21. Four teams are undefeated:
    Florida, OHio State , Texas and the Irish.
    Florida has a quest for 2nd straight title.
    Gaotrs win that day 41-14 ( same score by which they beat Buckeyes in 2006 title game)
    Bucks and the burnt Orange are already talking about
    rematch from last year’s last second dramatic Longhorn Victory which the Buckeyes are still whining about.
    Buckeyes lose in Ann Arbor that November day 42-39 *( Same score which sent them to 2006 title game against Flordia. Buckes were # 1 that day Michigan was # 2 that day. Bucks whined after the win for fear of rematch with Michigan.)
    Texas loses that day 27-24 with last second field goal ( same way which Irish won over Longhorns in the 90’s!)
    Irish beat Navy after struggling in the first half and come out with over 40 points !
    Result-Florida wins out in Struggle over Florida State and SEC title game
    ND punishes the left coast of Stanford and Buckeyes cry and whine again
    while they are left out of the BCS title game.
    Irish take on Florida in Title game —
    and SHOCK the nation by WINNING!
    Mark the day ladies and gentlemen–November 21~~!!!!
    Coming soon to a season near you!

  2. Hope you all like this scenario:
    Florida, Ohio State, Texas and Irish are ranked 1-4 and all undefeated.
    Florida has hopes of back to back titles. Bucks and Longhorns already talking about rematch from last years close game -but to be played in
    BCS title game. Irish considered outsiders by press near the schools ranked 1, 2 and 3.
    On Nov. 21, Florida wins 41-14 ( same socre which they pounded OSU for 06 title game)
    OSU loses to Michigan in Ann Arbor 42-39 ( identical score which Bucks beat Michigan sending them to 2006 title game)
    Texas loses a close one again ( 27-24 last second field goal -same situation and score which Irish won over Burnt Orange in the 90’s)
    Notre Dame pounds Navy and Stanford by stellar margins and Gators and Irish meet in the big one!
    Coming soon to a season near you!!!!

  3. I like this scenario ( LOL)
    Nov. 21: Florida, Ohio State, Texas and Notre Dame all undefeated.
    Longhorns, Buckeyes alraday talking about rematch only to be played in this years BCS title game.
    Longhorns lose by last second field goal 27-24 ( same way and score Irish did against the burnt orange in the 90’s)
    Buckeyes lose to Michigan in Ann Arbor 42-39 ( poetic justice for Michigan this is the same score which bucks beat UM to get to 06 title game)
    Florida wins on same day 41-14 ( same score which saw Gators pound OSU in 06 title game) and ND wins out over Navy and Stanford by stellar margins.
    Lou Rocks! This could happen to a season near you.
    Go Irish!

  4. would love to see this scenario:
    ND unbeaten as they play Navy
    Florida, Ohio State, Texas all undefeated going into the same day
    Irish are “outsiders” as Florida is obviously the #1 team.
    Texas and Buckeyes looking for a rematch of last year’s thriller to be played in the TITLE GAME.
    ND –no chance ( that’s what they are thinking)
    So–OSU loses to Michigan 42-39 Same score which Bucks won in a classic and sent them to the tile game to Florida( Game is in Ann Arbor)
    Florida wins same day 41-14 ( same score which they beat OSU by in 2006)
    The Irony continues –( Texas loses by a field goal as time expires 27-24)
    Same score by which ND beat them there in the 90’s!
    ND wins out and Florida wins out and Buckeyes are left out! LOL
    I have too much time on my hands but love the possibilites! Go Gators, Go Irish, Go anybody who plays OHio State or Miami, florida!
    Lou rocks!

  5. Hopefully the Irish coaches and players realize it’s not worth talking to the press about anything. Until one of the sports cartels, Fox or ESPN own the Irish, they will continue to dis them. Unfortunately, too many sports shows pander to the punks and drop outs in sports fandom that are turning this country into a second rate nation. Better wise up, sports hoodies or you’ll be serving the Chinese from your 3rd world ghettos. ND fans aspire to the best values in America. GO IRISH!!!

  6. Good article Frank. If the team does do what Lou predicts, he should be a Congressman. I am already getting excited about this. Should we start planning the championship party?

  7. Lou makes a great point, except for one thing, BCS points. I’m an Irish fan, but realistic. There’s almost no way unless most of ND’s opponents surprise everyone, that ND will have the BCS points to get to the title game. And what’s more important, that shouldn’t be the focus or considered. This team needs to set the goal of bringing respectability back to the program. That only happens with a 10 win season ( minimum ), AND a BCS bowl win. Those goals set, they need to stay focused on what it takes to get there. Any distractions and they are toast. Gotta prove you belong boys. Let’s see some over achieving. ND has always been about over achieving. Let’s hope the University still has that edge.

  8. There is only one flaw to this plan of notre dame being undefeated and returing to the title game over a one loss sec team….the coaches poll is a component of the bsc poll and all the southern coaches(and most other coaches around the naiton) hate notre dame and wouldnt vote them number two….i love notre dame but i just see a lot of haters keeping them down and out of the title game

  9. I think Lou does this crap intentionally to get under the skin of Mark May…which makes Lou a saint in my book (he already was though! haha)

    1. Mark May is out for Mark May. Intelligent, but never a real team player. What a waste. He’ll look back on his careers without the real satisfaction of achievement. Who did he play for other than himself?

      1. Mark May has had immense talent. But when your attitude is about you and not the team, you are playing for yourself. Michigan has shown me that for the last 30 years. I’ve never seen that team upset a higher regarded opponent. They just do what they’re supposed to do, nothing more. “I did my job, what else was I supposed to do?” Mark May lost at Oneonta in hoops when it mattered and his arrogant attitude makes him a loser today.

  10. If, the Irish were to pull this off with an undefeated season while other teams suffered a defeat, I think they still carry enough respect to get in although there are quite a number of ND haters out there I have loved died and watched this team since 1968 my daughter and everyone in my family are die hard Irish fans, I still tear up when they run out of that tunnel and onto the field, and when they score a touch down. I love sports in general pro football, basketball and all the rest But let me tell you NOTRE DAME there is nothing like it in sports. I am expected to like Purdue because we live close to west lafayette. But there is no way!!!

  11. i agree with nd12 just the fact alone that ND brings the fans which translates to dollars the BCS’ main objective is to maximize profit with that said ND will always get the nod over a 1 loss sec team or who ever if they are undefeated jus because of that reason…O and another thing y is there so much flack bout a schedule that was generated for the most part the year before? preseason polls usually go by the previous yr and thats not agood gauge on how a team will fare case in point 08 alabama is a perfect example they werent on no 1’s radar coming into the season and they jus missed the national championship on a loss in the SEC championship.

  12. I’ll settle for 12-0 or 11-1 and let voters do their thing. Having the Irish back in the National Championship hunt is exactly what we want. A BCS win would be nice too!

    1. Winning takes care of everything. Well, unless you’re Utah. I’d take my chances with ND if we went undefeated and managed a win over USC. I’m not getting my hopes up.

  13. I hope Lou is right but I still don’t think an undefeated Irish team gets in ahead of an one-loss SEC team or Big 12 team if there are two undefeated teams and an one loss team left at the end of the season.

    1. I have two reasons that I think your theory might be wrong.

      1. If an undefeated ND does get shut out of the BCS title game in favor of a one-loss team and that one-loss team beats the other undefeated team, and ND wins their BCS game with style, then you would see a split national championship because I think the AP gives it to an 13-0 ND team over the one-loss team.

      2. ND brings more fans and money and it would be a nightmare for BCS to keep an undefeated ND out the BCS title game.

    2. ND is already getting drilled over a weak schedule. They need Michigan to have a decent year. MSU needs to surprise everyone and be in the top 20. Pitt also needs to be up there. USC would also need to come in to South Bend undefeated. ND would need to beat them soundly. Remember ND beat Florida St. in 1993, only to see the Criminoles take a tainted title. The dirty teams always get the edge because no one likes the good guy. Reminds us to be better people. Both ESPN and FOX pander to deadbeat dads or hoodies. ND’s going to have to overcome a lot this time.

  14. i personally love this! i love how it has ticked off the haters so much, just reading the espn comments makes me smile to see the haters up in arms. either Lou is a genius and he will be right or he just jinxed for the upcoming season!

    1. This reminds me back when Rocket was on gameday, and they asked him what his prediction was for the Florida/Tenn game. Rocket predicted a Notre Dame win.

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