Lou Holtz, one of the past decade's most prominent college football voices, is leaving ESPN. SI's media reporter/critic Richard Deitsch reported the move yesterday evening.
The decision, according to sources, was closer to a mutual agreement between the parties than Holtz getting forced out. The 78-year-old said last May that he would retire from broadcasting after the 2014 season though at the time the network said Holtz had not informed them of such thinking.
I was not aware of Holtz's retirement prediction from last year, though as ESPN itself noted in a comment for that report, Holtz had made similar proclamations before.
Holtz did a lot of different things for ESPN over the years since he retired from coaching South Carolina following the 2004 season. He's most notable for doing studio work with Rece Davis and Mark May throughout Saturdays from between-game analysis to capping things off with College Football Final. It was mostly on the latter show that ESPN developed an obviously forced "rivalry" between him and May. Its obnoxious and transparently fake nature was a sore spot with many viewers, myself included, and I'm glad to see it gone.
With Rece Davis moving up to College Game Day and Holtz retiring, ESPN has an opportunity to completely redo its second-tier coverage on Saturdays. Perhaps it will use its deep bench of former coaches and players to offer real insight. There is no reason why the rest of the network's coverage can't be as good as GameDay is and has been.
I'll miss seeing Holtz on the TV, even if the routine with May was years past its expiration date. He often brought a sense of levity that all too often is lost, since nearly everyone who talks about football on TV—from the talking heads employed by the networks to the players and coaches—does so as though it's a gravely serious topic. It's a game that's supposed to be fun, and aside from the obnoxious First Take-style bit he did with May, he typically conveyed that.