SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Ryan Day couldn’t —and wouldn’t — hold back regarding all the narratives he and his team heard in the days leading up to Ohio State’s 17-14 win over Notre Dame on Saturday.
Before he could even reach the postgame press conference, Day was pointed in his remarks with an on-field reporter about what his team had just displayed with the entire country’s eyes watching despite what was, allegedly, a soft program.
Day’s comments were aimed directly at former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz, who, on Friday, alluded to a lack of toughness being the reason for Ohio State’s shortcomings in big matchups since Day took over in 2019. Holtz suggested Ohio State’s lack of physicality would again be its downfall on Saturday, and Day wasn’t about to take those comments lying down as his team celebrated on the Notre Dame Stadium turf.
“I’d like to know where Lou Holtz is right now,” Day said to NBC’s on-field reporter immediately following the game. “What he said about our team, I cannot believe. This is a tough team right here. We’re proud to be from Ohio. It’s always been Ohio against the world, and it’ll continue to be Ohio against the world. But I tell you what, I love those kids, and we’ve got a tough team.”
He added, “A lot of people question these kids and say a lot of things about them. And I love them. When someone attacks your family, to come in and win like this, it’s special. It’s a great win for our program and a great win for Ohio State.”
Day was just getting started as he arrived in the postgame press conference room and, at every turn, continued to take Holtz and every other naysayer to task.
“It was brewing for a couple of days,” he said of his outpouring of emotion. “A lot of people took a lot of shots at this team over the last 48 hours, and it really hit home for me. The way that our team played —not only did we physically get after (Notre Dame) last year, we did it again at the end of the game (tonight). I think it says a lot about this team.
“I’m really upset and disrespected by what Lou Holtz said publicly about our team and Ohio State and Buckeye nation. We’re not going to stand for that because that’s not even close to true. We had one bad half a couple of years ago in Ann Arbor … But every game we play in, we’re physical. We are. I don’t know where that narrative comes from, but it ends tonight. This team right here showed toughness and grit, they didn’t give up, and they found a way to get that last yard.”
Day continued to blast Holtz for his remarks, noting how quickly Ohio State’s physically dominant performance over Notre Dame just last season seemed to have been easily forgotten.
“I hope everyone in Buckeye nation enjoys that win because to come in here and win like that after the way we did last year —we physically got after them last year. We did,” Day said. “Put the film on. A lot of people make a lot of comments and don’t watch film. Put the film on and watch what goes on.
“For us to hang in there —the momentum was going with Notre Dame at one point — and then our guys stuck their foot in the ground. J.T. (Tuimoloau) makes a big-time play, and the guts of our team to go and win that game on the road, you’re going to tell me this team isn’t physical and tough? You’re wrong.”
Had there not been a bus to catch to the airport, Day seemed perfectly content to continue picking apart all the potshots from people like Holtz deep into Sunday morning. Instead, he may have best described his indignation with what he wasn’t willing to say.
“I don’t know where he gets off saying those types of things. I don’t,” Day said. “I have some other things I’d like to say, too, but I’m not going to say them because I’m more respectful than he is.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.