South Bend Stories: The Holtz SI cover that wasn't
When I visited the elder Holtz in his home in Orlando two weeks ago, he has an amazing collection of photos, autographs and honors he's received in his Hall of Fame career -- pictures with five presidents and two popes! He pointed out one item he counts among his most prized possessions -- a Sports Illustrated with him on the cover in 1986, his first year at Notre Dame -- and initially, it didn't seem that impressive, since I'd seen Holtz on the cover of SI before.
There's a good story behind it -- SI had done a story on Holtz and the big challenge of winning at Notre Dame, and he'd found out over one weekend that he'd be on the cover, with the headline "Can Lou Do It?" Unfortunately for Holtz, later that weekend, Jack Nicklaus shot a 30 on the back nine Sunday at age 46 to win his sixth Masters championship, and Holtz was bumped off the cover. Turns out, the folks at SI were nice enough to send Holtz a copy of the issue with him on the cover -- he believes it's the only one in existence. Here's the story that ran inside that issue.
So my question was this: If the SI cover doesn't make it out to mailboxes across the country, can you still be jinxed? Holtz opened that first season 1-4, but then again, he won a national title two years later, so that was the answer to the cover's question.