Holtz said before the game that teams beat Ohio State because they’re more physical than the Buckeyes and that “Notre Dame will take that same approach.” Then the Buckeyes scored a go-ahead TD with a second left to win 17-14 in South Bend, and Day used his postgame interview on NBC to fire back at Holtz.
“I’d like to know where Lou Holtz is right now,” Day said after the game. “What he said about our team, I cannot believe. 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 love those kids, and we’ve got a tough team."
On Tuesday, Holtz appeared on Dan Dakich’s YouTube show and made sure to mention again how Ohio State has lost its past two games against Michigan.
“Well, that’s his choice, and I can understand why he did,” Holtz said of Day calling him out. “He doesn’t want to talk about Michigan and 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, he inherited an outstanding defensive coordinator from Oklahoma State … Ohio State’s a good football team, but I don’t think they’re a great football team, and he can go after me all he wants.”
(To be clear: Day did not “inherit” former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. Knowles was hired to be Ohio State’s defensive coordinator after Day’s third regular season.)
The former ESPN analyst also stood by his belief that Ohio State will not be a “great” team in 2023. The Buckeyes look set to be in a three-way battle for the Big Ten title with Michigan and Penn State. Ohio State plays Penn State on Oct. 21 before ending the season against Michigan.
“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, and I hope he goes on and has a wonderful year,” Holtz said. “I don’t think they’ll be a great football team. I really don’t. I felt Notre Dame won the football game.”
Ohio State’s winning touchdown was scored as Notre Dame had just 10 players lined up in the defensive formation for the final two plays of the game. Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman said after the game that he didn’t want to risk a penalty by rushing an 11th player onto the field and have the ball potentially moved closer to the goal line for the Buckeyes.
Holtz said he called Freeman on Monday and apologized for being “unfair” in saying what he said to fire up Day and the Buckeyes while also noting that he would've used comments like his for motivation.
“I called coach Freeman [Monday] and apologized,” Holtz said. “Because I put him in a bad position maybe. I don’t feel bad about saying it because I believed it. And Notre Dame was the better football team. Three times Ohio State had fourth-and-1, ran the ball, couldn’t make it. Other than the one long run, they averaged less than 2 yards a carry. But if I was coaching, I would have said it, and I would have went to our team and said, 'I think you’re better, I think you’re more physical, I think you’re more talented. Coach [unintelligible] doesn’t believe so. Go prove him wrong, and prove me right.' But when I say something and yet I can’t control the outcome of the game, that’s unfair to coach Freeman.”