The ex-coach and ESPN college football analyst met with Republican officials in Central Florida last week to discuss a possible run for Congress, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Holtz would potentially challenge freshman Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.) in 2010.
The Sentinel said that Holtz also met with National Republican Congressional Committee chair Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) last week.
ESPN spokesman Mike Humes quickly shot down rumors of a Holtz campaign. He said that Holtz “told us [today] that he is committed to ESPN.”
Holtz would join a crowded GOP primary if he ran, but some Republicans think a celebrity would be able to effectively fundraise and bring attention and name recognition to the campaign.
“You put him in the ring and it’s all but over,” John Dowless, an Orlando-based Republican consultant told the Sentinel. “He’s on TV, he’s likable, the name ID is huge and people respect him enormously.”
Holtz won a national championship with Notre Dame in 1988 and briefly coached the New York Jets, albeit unsuccessfully.
The coach also is a consistent GOP contributor, giving campaign contributions to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). But Holtz also gave money to Hillary Clinton during her presidential campaign.
A Holtz campaign would not come without controversy. At age 72, some think it is unwise for him to launch a political career. Others will point to remarks Holtz made comparing Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez to Hitler because both were “great” leaders.