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 Why did Ryan Day get so fired up in calling out Lou Holtz?

Multiple reasons. But honestly, if you look at it closely, the feisty Ohio State coach should be thanking Notre Dame’s 86-year-old legend/TV pundit.

First, Day got to talk about getting a big monkey off his back while firing back at Holtz, rather than the real issue. Yes, he is 49-6 in Columbus. But in Columbus, you are measured by championships. Big Ten championships—which means beating Michigan. And national championships—which means beating Southern fried juggernauts like Georgia, Alabama and Clemson.

And under Day, Ohio State has been stuck in a pattern of losing the championship measuring sticks.

This skin-of-the-teeth 17-14 win in South Bend—a September game against Notre Dame—doesn’t reverse the pattern completely. But it beats the devil out of the alternative. Now, the Buckeyes have some breathing room in their quest for the championships that Ryan, his players and Ohio State’s legion of fans crave.

Second, Holtz gave Day a rallying point, a face on the dartboard. When the old ND coach said Ohio State wasn’t tough enough, he wasn’t merely talking about what Day took issue with.

Being tough isn’t merely confined to literally smacking your opponent. It’s a big-picture thing, too. If you win, you’re tough. And deep down, Day must know he flinched at times in those big-game losses. As a man with the potential to be a great coach, he must have dissected those key losses and seen what he could have done differently to put his team over the top.

Oh, and by the way, Holtz was a young assistant for Woody Hayes on Ohio State’s 1968 national championship team. He knows something about Columbus and toughness.

I covered Holtz’ first five years under the Golden Dome. Saw him go from 5-6 in Year 1 to a national championship in Year 3. The man is a master motivator.

When Ryan Day has some distance, he will realize that.


Wow! What a terrific, angry day of college football. And amazingly, it came in September. So early. How amazingly caffeinated is November going to be?

The rants of Ryan Day stole the spotlight, but earlier on Angry Saturday, Oregon coach Dan Lanning did a nice job of firing up his Ducks by putting the face of Coach Prime on his team dartboard.

He did it before the game. At halftime. After the 42-6 rout. Turned all that attention for what Deion Sanders has done at Colorado into disrespect for Oregon. Which it absolutely wasn’t.

Honestly, I thought the Buffs would have no problem covering with the 21 points they were getting. That line, by the way, shoots holes in Lanning’s rant. Vegas bookmakers certainly believed in the Ducks.

The loss does nothing to diminish what Coach Prime and his sunglasses have accomplished. Taking a one-win team to a 3-0 start, garnering phenomenal TV ratings, putting a positive national spotlight on the gloomy Pac-12 Conference. . . if Colorado doesn’t win another game, Sanders has had a finger lickin’ good debut in Boulder.

And the Buffaloes will win more games.


This just in. In case you missed it, dead-in-the-water Northwestern rallied back from a 31-10 fourth-quarter deficit to beat Minnesota 37-34 in overtime.

Why was this game being played at night? Television. And maybe NU figured a night game might attract certain football watchers.


Some developing trends. . .

@ The Pac-12—soon to be the Pac-2—is the best conference in the nation. Oregon, USC, Washington, Utah, Washington State, Oregon State all are looking sharp.

I don't know how many of them are going to make the College Football Playoff. But they're going to have a terrific time deciding who remains in that hunt.

@ The ACC is awfully good, too. Florida State looks like a Final Four team. Duke, Miami, North Carolina and Louisville all look good. And Clemson, for all its troubles, is still no slouch.

@ How about a Final Four of Oregon, Ohio State, Florida State and Notre Dame? I'll be shocked if the SEC doesn't have a face in that crowd. But it could happen. The SEC West teams beat the hell out of each other, and the survivor beats debatable-schedule-strength Georgia.

I know. Not gonna happen. But fun to ponder.

@ If a better game to watch than Ohio State-Notre comes up, sign me up. Terrific football drama from start to finish.

And it was not an elimination game. Notre Dame has a worthy schedule this year. The next three weeks, the Irish travel to Duke (4-0) and Louisville (4-0), then face USC (4-0) in South Bend. And they have a trip to Clemson on Nov. 4.

@ Isn’t it refreshing to not have the SEC in the spotlight, for a change?

There will be plenty of time for that. Kudos to Nick Saban for dodging the Ole Miss bullet. As much as I like Saban—the best coach of this era, if not all-time—he doesn’t seem to have a world-beating roster this fall.

Others will rush to the judgment that he has lost it if the Tide doesn’t roll this season. You won’t hear it from me.

@ Still waiting for Georgia to play a meaningful opponent. . . Best hope: The World’s Largest Whatever They Call It Now That Outdoor Cocktail Party Doesn’t Cut It, against Florida on Oct. 28.

@ With LSU not looking like a world-beater, the SEC West seems up for grabs. If Brian Kelly bolted Notre Dame to enjoy upgraded recruiting and crawfish gumbo, he hasn’t escaped the pressure to win. After surviving Arkansas, the Bayou Tigers go to Ole Miss on Saturday. Are the Rebels finally ready to break through?

@ After Wisconsin slogged past Purdue 38-17 amid missed tackles and 11 penalties, I was wondering if they can take Luke Fickell to a division title in his first season.

But then Iowa got blanked 31-0 at Penn State and Minnesota muffed an easy one against reeling Northwestern. That’s the Badgers’ two chief rivals, if you’re keeping score at home.

The worst development, though, was the injury to Wisconsin running back Chez Mellusi, who is reportedly out for the season with a fractured fibula. Braelon Allen is still a load, but Mellusi gave the Badgers an excellent one-two punch.

That said, the Badgers have enough to close ranks and soldier on.

. . . as the West keeps sinking slowly in the Big Ten.