Friday, February 18, 2005

the Holtz Room revisted | by Jay

One of Charlie's frequent mantras thus far has been "No Excuses": no excuses about academics, no excuses about a tough schedule, no excuses about South Bend. No excuses, period.

You'd think this kind of uncompromising talk would be de rigueur for an Irish coach, right? But Charlie's attitude stands in stark contrast to that of some of the more recent denizens of the head coaching office. In our Friday mailbag we have a story from reader Ned about one of the all-time great bellyachers...that's right, your favorite and mine, Bullet Bob. Enjoy.

In the last year of the Holtz era, a group of us decided to dedicate our dorm room, 326 Keenan, to the memory and legacy of Lou, the last great Irish coach. Four of us chartered it, but "The Holtz Room" had many associates, and was a place where the guys lived and breathed ND football. We covered the walls with Holtz memorabilia and turned it into a shrine to Lou, and it became sort of a mecca for all things Irish.

Lou himself even visited The Holtz Room on his first trip back to Notre Dame after being fi-- leaving, and he loved it, staying and talking with us for a good forty-five minutes before heading out for a roast of Father Ted.

The Holtz Room had many traditions, but the most important by far was the Rockne Toast. On Fridays before football games, the residents of the Holtz Room and others that wanted to tag along would journey out to Rock's grave to ask him to look over the team tomorrow. We would go around and say something about ND and down a ceremonial shot of whiskey, always leaving one behind on the grave.

Anyway, when Bob Davie officially became the coach, we thought we'd ask him to get involved in the tradition, and we invited him to come along. With the stipulation that we leave out the whiskey, he agreed, and the date was set for March 31st, the anniversay of the day that Rock's plane went down.

We met Bob at the JACC and talked with him for a while in his private office (there was some Texas A&M stuff in the office, which wasn’t thrilling to see). Davie was very nice and had a hat and ball for each of us that he signed. We then headed off to Rock’s grave.

At the cemetery, we started going around, and everyone said something about Rock and what he did at ND. Finally, it was Bob's turn. He thought for a moment, and said:

“Rock, why did you have to set the bar so high?”

A little stunned, we all just kind of looked at each other, trying to conceal our disbelief.

Bob said a few more words, and then we said goodbye and parted ways, and walked back to campus. Years later, I donated the Davie-signed hat for a charity auction. I can't believe they got 75 bucks for it.

-- Ned