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Troy Aikman, Lou Holtz in the Hall of Fame

They're among 21 people honored in South Bend, Ind.

July 19, 2009|Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, IND. — The only way Lou Holtz knows how to coach is all out.

That's why he couldn't speak much louder than a whisper Saturday evening after coaching a group of former Notre Dame players for three days as they practiced for an exhibition game in Japan. It's also a big reason why he was among 21 people enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Among the others honored Saturday were former UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman, former Oklahoma State tailback Thurman Thomas, former Army quarterback Arnold Tucker and John Cooper, who coached at Ohio State, Arizona State and Tulsa.

Holtz took over six struggling programs and turned them into bowl teams within two years. He led the Fighting Irish to their last national championship in 1988. Holtz said the key is to have a plan, to hold people accountable and to believe it can be done.

"You have to get people to make good decisions. Wherever you are in life, good or bad, it's because of the choices you make. Choose to succeed rather than fail. Choose to work hard rather than to loaf your way through it. We had a plan, a vision and we wouldn't compromise our core values," he said.

Cooper recalled the long journey of his career, saying when he was a young assistant he would go to coaching conventions hoping to catch a glimpse of Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler and Bear Bryant. He said it was an unbelievable feeling to be joining them.

"It's a humbling experience to be in that group," he said.

Thomas, who still holds the Oklahoma State records for career rushing with 4,595 yards and went to four straight Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills, joked his biggest accomplishment might have been keeping Barry Sanders on the bench for two years.

Former Syracuse quarterback Don McPherson, the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1987, said being enshrined was a surreal experience.

"It's fun just to be associated with these guys," McPherson said. "I'm just a fan of college football. So for me, it's just fun to be around."

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