Holtz returns to Notre Dame amidst ribbing

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — For an intense guy with a quick temper, Lou Holtz took the ribbing pretty well.
The former Notre Dame coach smiled and laughed as a long line of friends, assistants and former players poked fun at him for nearly three hours Tuesday night in a benefit roast. It was his first appearance at Notre Dame since the season — Holtz’s 11th and his last — ended.
Nothing was sacred. Not his clothes, his hair, his lisp, his intensity nor his golf swing. Not even his record.
Holtz took the same treatment when he left the Gophers football program to take the Notre Dame job in 1985. He left Minnesota with an 11-12 record over two years of work.
Four of Holtz’s former players — Tony Rice, Jerome Bettis, Jim Flanigan and Derrick Mayes — were there, and Chris Zorich sent a videotaped message. While Flanigan, a defensive tackle on the 1993 team who now plays for the Chicago Bears, said he’d been waiting a long time for this opportunity.
Mayes, a receiver who now plays for the Green Bay Packers, confessed to all the pranks he played on Holtz, as well as some he didn’t.
“Coach, do you remember that golf cart you had? The time it had a big Mercedes emblem on the front? That was me,” he said. “Do you remember the time you couldn’t find the keys? You couldn’t drive off after practice and you had to walk back?
“That was Tony,” he said, pointing to Rice.
No matter how sincere their message, few of the speakers could resist a jab at Holtz, who will be an analyst for CBS Sports next fall. Even President Clinton, who sent a videotaped greeting, poked fun at Holtz’s less-than-imposing stature.
The two have known each other since Holtz’s days at Arkansas, and Clinton said Holtz is welcome at the White House any time he gets the urge to play a little football.
“I miss talking to you,” Clinton said. “Besides, I’d enjoy the weight and size advantage.”