He Hasn't Changed A Bit.

SOUTH BEND - It looked as if Lou Holtz had never left. From standing still with his forearms crossed, to pacing the sidelines, to picking the grass, the honorary head coach of the Gold team at Notre Dame's spring game Saturday, brought back all the same mannerisms he had when he paced the Irish sideline back in the 1980s and 90s. The only difference was, he was on the visiting sideline.

Holtz guided his Gold team to a 10-6 victory over Ara Parseghian's Blue team, as the Irish capped off spring camp in front of a record crowd of 51,852 at Notre Dame Stadium. Holtz was treated by the players afterwards as if he just led them to a National Championship.

"I'll tell you one thing, you don't throw Gatorade on a guy at 70 years old in a spring game when it's not expected," said Holtz, who ranks second behind Knute Rockne among Notre Dame coaches with 100 wins. "I could have had a heart attack and sued Notre Dame for a lot of money."

The personable Holtz had the media laughing during the post-game press conference, and had his players laughing before, during and after the game.

"I just tried to get them to laugh, and tried to get them to have fun," Holtz said. "I think that's so important here at Notre Dame that you laugh and have fun because there's pressure on you in every area of your life, that's all.

"But I had fun. I don't know if they did, but I did."

Holtz was also coaching to win, and the fiery Lou also made an appearance, and in that instance, quarterback Evan Sharpley wasn't laughing.

With time running down at the end of the second quarter, Sharpley took a sack instead of throwing the football away, on the opposition's 15-yard line. Holtz called timeout and jumped around like he had bees in his pants before laying into Sharpley for a second. It was just like he was getting on Tony Rice or Kevin McDougal.

"Well, we just prayed on it a little bit," Holtz said. "It's just, you know, you don't win because you make the great play; you win because you eliminate the bad play.

"We had no more timeouts and you know, I'm always open on the sideline. We should have had a chance for a field goal but you learn from that. And football is a game of physical, but it's also a game of mental.

"You know, these are all hopefully a learning experience and hopefully they will all benefit from it. That's all learning. I just tried to make it a learning experience for them, that was all. My initial reaction was, then you calm down and say, well, I'm not going to help the situation."

Getting a chance to come back and participate in this year's Blue-Gold game gave Holtz and Parseghian a chance to remember what they loved about coaching, and coaching at Notre Dame. It was basically the same for both of them. The relationships they developed with their players, and both team's honorary captain was a guy they each coached. Holtz had Rice, and Ross Browner was with Parseghian.

"To me, it's just getting the relationship with the players," Holtz said. He led the Irish to the 1988 National Championship. "You really miss that as a coach. Tony Rice has been here, and like I said, I have 151 athletes, but watching Ara Parseghian with Ross Browner, I don't know how long Ross Browner, 30 years ago did he play for you? The relationship they had, you just can't make happen. There are people that live together for 35 years that don't have the relationship they have in four years. That's what it's about; how do you have that relationship? By dealing with young people and when you deal with young people, it keeps you young.

Parseghian really began to remember back when he led the Blue team out of the tunnel.

"Ross Browner was one of the best football players that I've ever had," said Parseghian, who guided the Irish to the 1973 National Title. "We had him at defensive end and he was devastating. Teams would stay away from running to that side. And his pass rush was really remarkable.

"And of course, he went into pro football and demonstrated the kind of player that he was. And he's got a terrific personality. He's an outstanding individual and just like Lou was saying, the interaction you have with your players, you're living together. I mean, you're seeing one another every day. You go to meals together, you have meetings together, you go to war together, during your time in the game, and so as a result, the relationships I had with my players are the things that I missed the most when I stepped aside. When you're on the practice field, and as Lou said, you kid with them and joke with them and get to know their personalities, and get to looking 200 yards away and you know exactly who the guy is walking across there just by his mannerisms and the way he walks and carries himself. So it really becomes a family.

"When I won the National Championship in 1973 in New Orleans against Alabama, I remember holding the trophy up and saying, This is for the Notre Dame family, because that's what it is and was and that's why it's been successful, the tradition of Notre Dame."


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