In 1983 Lou Holtz was fired from Arkansas for going 6-5 and possibly because he taped two political commercials from his Arkansas office. (By the way, which current head coach in college football would produce the funniest political ad? Mike Leach? Charlie Weis? I digress.)
Taking a step back, Holtz accepted the head coaching position at Minnesota, following the ‘Smokey' Joe Salem era [/cue old timey footage of bomb being dropped from fighter plane then exploding upon impact]. When Holtz accepted the job with Minnesota he had a "Notre Dame clause" written into his contract, which essentially said that he could leave Minnesota if the Notre Dame coaching job became available.
Holtz lead the Gophers to the Independence Bowl in just his second season at the helm, but he didn't coach the Gophers in that game because he exercised his "Notre Dame clause," accepting the Irish head coaching position at the end of the 1985 season.
What a jackass.
That is exactly how every Minnesota Golden Gopher Football fan worth their salt, and who has any connection to the Gophers in the mid-80's, feels about Lou Holtz.
Is this a rational reaction? Of course not, but we all have our crosses to bear, don't we?
Sometime in the late 80's, when I was 10 or 12 years old, I recall that my uncle, who introduced me to Gopher Football (I still haven't forgiven him), had a button that he would sometimes wear. This button said...
"I cheer for Minnesota... and whoever's playing Notre Dame."
And that phrase, because of Lou Holtz, is how every Gopher Football fan who has any connection to the Gophers of the mid-80's, still feels about Notre Dame to this very day and will until their dying day.
In fact, I'll let you in on a little secret. If you meet someone who tries to tell you that they are a fan of both the Gophers and the Irish... they are lying to you. I don't know their reasons, and I don't know why they think they can get away with it, but these people are out there, and they are NOT to be trusted.
Is this a rational reaction? Of course not, but this is what we live with every day.
The "Notre Dame clause" epitomizes to perfection the levels to which people who love Notre Dame football, love Notre Dame football. They see it as the holy f'ing pinnacle of football perfection. They see it as a higher calling. They see it as some kind of birth rite. They see it as... oh, just ask one of them how they see it and I'm sure they'll give you a better, more literary, explanation than I can with their fancy, expensive Notre Dame education. And if they can't come up with a better way to ‘splain it, they'll probably then give you a reason why they weren't able to, but why they will very soon be able to give you the perfect explanation.
Under Holtz they should have felt like they were the pinnacle of college football. But after 1996 it kind of all fell apart, didn't it. (Oh who am I kidding? They'll never admit it.)
But sweet Touchdown Jesus has there ever been a fan base in the history of fan bases who holds themselves, their team and their past in higher regard while continually making excuses about why they aren't yet back to national domination?
And THAT, Golden Domers (and Great Oden's Raven do I HATE that nickname) is why everybody who isn't you, loves to see you fail. Yes, a competitive Notre Dame program is good for college football. Yes, Notre Dame gets more than its fair share of top level recruits despite recent lack of success (especially if those recruits are from Catholic high schools in the Midwest... another irritation for another time.)Yes, we're envious of your money and your tradition and your travelling fan base.
But we don't like you. We like to see you fail. We like cheering for our own teams and whoever is playing against Notre Dame. If the Gophers win and Notre Dame loses it's pretty much a perfect Saturday for me.
Is all of this a rational reaction? Hell no, it's not rational. But screw it, I don't need to impress you people.