Join us on Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET as we relive the 1996 game between Rutgers and Notre Dame. Head over to the Fighting Irish Youtube channel to watch the game, chat with fans, answer trivia and participate in fan polls. You can also comment on Twitter by using the hashtag #NDWatchParty.
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. – All week long, he wouldn’t give in, he wouldn’t flinch.
Lou Holtz would not let his emotions rule his body.
That all changed when Holtz issued his final official words at his final home game as Notre Dame coach.
“I can walk out of this university and know I didn’t embarrass it,” he said. “I tried to live by values that Notre Dame espouses. I can leave here and look up at the lady on the Dome and go down to the grotto, I can look up to God and say: `I think I left it clean.’ ”
With his voice wavering and his eyes tearing, Holtz repeated: “I think I left it clean.”
He not only left it clean, he left it a winner as well. A big winner.
In his final game at Notre Dame Stadium, Holtz’s players rewarded him with a thunderous 62-0 bludgeoning of Rutgers that improved their record to 8-2.
Only Southern California stands in the way of the 10th-ranked Irish going to the Fiesta Bowl to win one last game for Holtz.
But nothing stands in the way of defensive coordinator Bob Davie taking over after that. Davie has earned the approval of Rev. Edward Malloy, Notre Dame’s president, and he will be introduced as the school’s next football coach at 11 a.m. Sunday.
At the end of Saturday’s game, Holtz hopped on a podium to offer the fans a few words. He stood in front of the student section and said: “If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t need a faculty.”
Then Holtz said: “You’ll find a better stadium next year, a better playing surface. You can probably find a better social life.”
“You’ll find better coaches . . . ”
They screamed: “NO!”
After watching Saturday’s performance, you could understand their sentiments.
The Irish scored their most points in a game since 1977. They outgained Rutgers 648-43. Yes, 648-43.
They limited Scarlet Knights quarterbacks to three completions. They sacked those same poor souls nine times.
“It couldn’t have been any better,” said tight end Pete Chryplewicz.
And there were two notable personal achievements: Tailback Autry Denson pushed his season rushing total past 1,000 yards and quarterback Ron Powlus threw four touchdown passes to break by one Rick Mirer’s school record of 41. But the day belonged to Holtz.
“Today I went out there with one thought–gratitude,” Holtz said. “For the people at Notre Dame and everyone who’s played a role in my life. Just gratitude and thankfulness. I harbor no ill feelings. I will miss Notre Dame, but I don’t think Notre Dame will miss Lou Holtz.”
His players don’t feel that way. Many cried when he spoke to the students. And later they awarded him a game ball for his 100th career victory at Notre Dame.
Said tailback Robert Farmer: “Thank God that I had a chance to be part of a legend and play for Coach Holtz.”
Holtz said that before he leaves Notre Dame, he will walk out of the tunnel one final time, alone with his thoughts.
“I think I’d have difficulty coaching at another college,” Holtz said. “My heart’s here and will always be here.”
Going into the final home game of the 1996 season, Lou Holtz had already announced his retirement as head coach at Notre Dame. While the Irish rolled Rutgers 62-0, it was an emotional day in Notre Dame Stadium. Relive the pregame, highlights and Coach Holtz final speech to the Notre Dame student body.