Hall of Fame football coach Lou Holtz lamented on Tuesday the impending cancellation of the college football season due to the coronavirus pandemic, telling Fox News that the U.S. needs to “move on” from the crisis while comparing unpaid athletes to Allied soldiers who accepted “risks” and “casualties” by storming the beaches of Normandy during World War II.
Amid reports that the Big Ten conference has postponed its college football season until at least next spring, Holtz immediately criticized the conference’s college presidents for voting to nix the fall season.
“Well, it wasn’t really a difficult decision for them—two of the presidents happen to be MDs and MDs are not great leaders, they only look at it from one side,” the former Notre Dame coach told Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer. “Players want to play, coaches want to play, athletic directors want to play—they need the money. However, the presidents have no responsibility. They have no other concern.”
Holtz went on to grouse that university presidents are showing a “lack of leadership,” prompting Hemmer to confirm that the longtime coach was advocating for the season to proceed this fall amid a pandemic that has killed more than 164,000 Americans.
“I think they should play,” Holtz responded. “But you ought to say to the player, if you have an asthma problem, if you’re diabetic or something, and you have a legitimate reason you don’t want to play, absolutely, don’t play.”
Complaining that he’s been “going crazy” due to coronavirus restrictions over the past few months, Holtz then exclaimed it was “time to move on with our life” before invoking the pivotal and bloody D-Day invasion of Europe.
“When they stormed Normandy, they knew there were going to be casualties—they knew there were going to be risks,” Holtz bellowed.
He would go on to downplay the impact of the virus, saying only a small percentage of patients go to the emergency room for COVID-19 before claiming that college football players face very little risk from the disease.
“I don’t know of a college player that has tested positive for COVID-19 who has gone to the hospital,” he declared, adding: “I’m not minimizing it, but sometimes we’ve got to move on in this country.”
While there have yet to be any deaths or long-term hospitalizations among players, roughly 800 of them have tested positive for the virus and many of them have reported being severely sick. Arizona receiver Jaden Mitchell, for instance, said the disease “is no joke” after his weeks-long fight with the virus caused him to lose 14 pounds.
Paraphrasing President Donald Trump’s infamous call for an expedited reopening, Holtz, a passionate Trump supporter, concluded by saying the “cure is far worse than the illness.”
Holtz and other coaches haven’t been alone in demanding college football to play as scheduled this fall. The president has repeatedly weighed in this week on the topic, claiming that it would be a “tragic mistake” to cancel the season while also saying that “you can’t have empty seats” if games are played.