Irish's Holtz fears Ismail is set to rocket into NFL

January 03, 1991|By Jack Saylor | Jack Saylor,Knight-Ridder

MIAMI -- Lou Holtz said yesterday he wants to return as Notre Dame coach, but he is concerned that Raghib Ismail might not be back with him.

Ismail, a junior All-America flanker, said he will consider turning pro.

"There are pros and cons about turning pro, and now that the season is over I have to think about it," Ismail said after Tuesday night's 10-9 Orange Bowl loss to Colorado.

The New England Patriots, who hold the NFL's No. 1 pick, have said they would draft Ismail if he's available. Ismail has the option of skipping the April draft and entering a supplemental draft in the summer.

"I don't believe Rocket wants to leave," Holtz said. "But the NFL's possible wage scale [for rookies] scares all underclassmen. I'm convinced in my heart he wants to come back, but it's not what Rocket wants to do, it's what he can afford to do."

Holtz appeared somber at a news conference yesterday morning, saying he planned to face an NCAA committee hearing on charges of illegalities during his two-year tenure at Minnesota.

"But I hope to be back at Notre Dame -- if they want me," Holtz said. He made no mention of rumors linking his name with NFL coaching openings at Minnesota and Tampa Bay.

Holtz questioned a clipping call that cost Ismail a 91-yard punt return for an apparent touchdown in the final minute Tuesday night. Greg Davis was called for clipping Tim James.

"The first time I played it back, it didn't look like one of those obvious clips you sometimes see," Holtz said. "When I played it back two more times, you can see Greg's head was in front of the guy, but his shoulders were behind. Maybe technically it was a clip.

"But I thought the criterion was if your head was in front of the guy you're blocking, it's not a clip."

Colorado coach Bill McCartney disagreed.

"I saw the film clip of the punt return, and there's no question it was a clip," McCartney said. "Tim James had a legitimate chance to make a play on the Rocket. If he hadn't gotten him to the ground, he certainly would have slowed him up some. So I thought it was a good call."

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