TOKYO — When Notre Dame asks you to coach, you don't say no, so Lou Holtz will fly to Tokyo in July to coach the Fighting Irish legends team against Japan's national American football team.
The former Notre Dame coach was in Tokyo today to promote the Notre Dame Japan Bowl on July 25 at Tokyo Dome. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, a Notre Dame graduate, will also make the trip to Japan as a celebrity ambassador but won't suit up for his alma mater.
"The love that people have for Notre Dame can't be explained," Holtz said at a news conference. "Notre Dame asked me to coach and you don't say no. We asked Joe to come because we felt it was important for a guy like Joe to come over and represent Notre Dame."
Holtz said that over 100 former Notre Dame players volunteered to make the trip, so he and his coaching staff will hold tryouts to narrow the team down for the trip. The final roster will be announced in April.
Holtz listed several players who were sure to make the team, including quarterback Tony Rice, running back Travis Thomas and center Tim Ruddy.
Holtz has been in Japan four times in the past as a coach of the U.S. team in the Japan Bowl and said his players will be able to experience a new culture.
"We wanted the players to experience Japanese culture and we think it will be a great experience for them," Holtz said. "I coached here in four Japan Bowls and enjoyed every one of them."
Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown will be a member of the coaching staff. Brown joins fellow former Notre Dame players Chris Zorich and Reggie Brooks on the staff.
Holtz wasn't worried about his players overwhelming the Japanese team.
"The players are older and haven't played for a few years," Holtz said. "Football is a team game and it doesn't always go to the best athlete."
Holtz watched video of the Japanese team during his trip and said he was very impressed with the coaching of the players and the discipline.
Holtz, who had a 100-30-2 record in 11 seasons at Notre Dame, was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in May.