Notre Dame football: Holtz Era players giving back

ERIC HANSEN
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND

Lou Holtz never did get to cross paths with ND head football coach Brian Kelly Friday when the two were in the same city for a roughly 24-hour window.

“I know what it’s like on a Friday before the game,” the former Irish coaching icon said Friday night during part of a whirwind five days that started Wednesday in Fargo, N.D., and will end Monday night somewhere in Arkansas.

“Brian’s doing a great job,” Holtz continued. “He doesn’t need any guidance from me. He doesn’t need me to take up his time.”

Holtz was wrong about one thing on Friday. He was certain the Irish would be able to run the ball when they wanted to and needed to Saturday against Michigan State in what he expected to be an ND victory.

The 22nd-ranked Irish did prevail, 17-13, against a Spartan team that was just on the outside of the AP Top 25, but the Irish won in spite of being outrushed and outgained.

Holtz did visit with most of the school’s other head coaches and staffs for about 90 minutes on Friday afternoon, including Irish women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw. But his main reason for being in South Bend during his map zig-zagging was to be a presence at the Lou’s Lads get-together Friday night.

The Holtz Era players are starting to flex their community service muscles and gain a presence with their various missions. They unveiled a new partnership Friday night with Bread & Life, an organization which puts on a food drive in the springtime each year,

“The board of Lou’s Lads has exceeded my expectations,” Holtz said. “I wonder how I ever lost a game with this kind of effort. It’s great to get a chance to see them give back.”

Some of the board members, including former running back Randy Kinder, want to take Holtz to Haiti with them when they make a return trip to the impoverished island nation.

“Absolutely, I’ll go,” Holtz said. “I went to Afghanistan in June (to visit American troops). Why wouldn’t I go to Haiti?

“I was over in the Afghanistan/Pakistan mountains on the border. I had to wear a 35-pound Flak jacket and a five-pound helmet. The second day I said, I’d rather take my chances than wear this.’

“But I never worried about my safety until I landed in Chicago.”

Squibs

*Scouts from six NFL teams were credentialed for Saturday’s game: Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers.

*Former Irish assistant coach and Northwestern head coach Francis Peay died Saturday in St. Louis. He was 69.

*The ND 1973 national champions were honored just before kickoff Saturday.

*Including Saturday, the Irish have held MSU without a touchdown in the first quarter for six straight meetings.

*Freshman Will Fuller's first career catch for Notre Dame went for 37 yards, the longest play by either team in the game.

*Kelly evened his lifetime record against Big Ten teams at 9-9.

*Irish senior receiver TJ Jones finally made his first start of the season on Saturday.

*Notre Dame is 23-3 over its past 26 regular-season games.

Notre Dame cornerback KeiVarae Russell (6) tackles Michigan State wide receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr. (3) during an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, at Notre Dame. SBT Photo/JAMES BROSHER