Lou Holtz, who coached Notre Dame and won a national championship with the team in 1988, defended the school’s nickname after a survey found it to be one of the most offensive in college sports.
Notre Dame, nicknamed the Fighting Irish, was said to have one of the most offensive mascots in the U.S., according to a survey from the Quality Logo Products Blog. The leprechaun came in fourth place behind Hawaii’s Vili the Warrior, San Diego State’s Aztec Warrior and Florida State’s Osceola and Renegade.
Holtz appeared on "FOX & Friends" on Thursday and told co-host Steve Doocy there was no reason to change the name.
"The students at Notre Dame, when I coached there for 11 years, they’re proud to be a part of the Fighting Irish. The Irish have a great tradition, etc. But why does everybody have to say what you want to do? There’s a lot of things I don’t like that I tolerate. That’s part of life. That’s part of the United States. It’s part of the freedom of speech," he said.
"But people, they get offended and try to bully and try to shut ya up. But I think it’s time for the silent majority to stand up and say no more. This is what we believe and this is what is going to go on. This is our country and this is the way it was founded."
Holtz floated one theory about why Notre Dame is called the Fighting Irish in the first place. He said it was because of students standing up to the Ku Klux Klan.
"Notre Dame is standing up to the bullies. There are a lot of things in this world that I don’t like but this country gives you the right to say what you really feel. Let’s understand where the Fighting Irish name came from. It came from a newspaper article in the ‘20s. The Ku Klux Klan invaded South Bend. The students from Notre Dame, which at that time were all male, went down and confronted them and there was a melee that followed. The headline in the paper read ‘Fighting Irish’ and that’s where it really started," he said.
"People don’t like the flag. They don’t like the Pledge of Allegiance. Everything in this world they don’t like – the Redskins. Good Lord knows. Let’s have the ability to stand up. I used to think the First Amendment said I have the freedom of speech to say what I want and say what I feel. But let’s not be intimidated any longer. It’s time the silent majority stood up."
Notre Dame said it had no intention of changing their name despite the survey.
"It is worth noting ... that there is no comparison between Notre Dame’s nickname and mascot and the Indian and warrior names (and) mascots used by other institutions such as the NFL team formerly known as the Redskins," the school said in a statement to the Indy Star on Monday. "None of these institutions were founded or named by Native Americans who sought to highlight their heritage by using names and symbols associated with their people.
"Our symbols stand as celebratory representations of a genuine Irish heritage at Notre Dame, a heritage that we regard with respect, loyalty and affection."