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Lou Holtz talks Notre Dame

Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz can still pack them in.

Holtz was the speaker at the Kendallville Chamber of Commerce annual banquet at the Kendallville Event Center on Thursday.

And thanks to his presence the banquet drew 477, just less than capacity, and about three times the normal crowd for the event, according to Kendallville Area Chamber of Commerce public relations coordinator Katee Schalau.

Before entertaining the crowd, Holtz met with the media and covered a wide range of topics.

Here are some of his thoughts about Notre Dame:

On ending up the coach at Notre Dame: "When I went into coaching, my goal was not to coach at Notre Dame. My goal was to coach against Notre Dame because they only hired alums. I wasn't smart enough to go to Notre Dame. They wouldn't let me in. Ironic, they thought I was smart enough to coach there. I guess you have to be smarter to be a student then you do to be a coach. Once they hired Ara Pareghian, then that was my goal to end up there. And it was better than I ever envisioned."

On the current state of Notre Dame football: "I think Brian Kelly will do a super job. I believe they will win a championship. It is strictly a question of when. Possibly it could be this year, the schedule is very conducive. It depends upon (Dayne) Crist, the quarterback."

"I think Notre Dame will be a vastly improved football team. Some people will say they've underachieved. I think with Brian Kelly, they will overachieve."

On why Notre Dame will win a title under Kelly: "I think if you look at the history of Notre Dame. When Notre Dame hires a successful college coach, who has been successful at another program over a period of time, not just one year, Notre Dame wins championships. Frank Leahy Ara Pareghian, Dan Devine – Lou Holtz (Holtz said his own name after a reporter prompted him to say it).

"When you hire a high school coach, and there are not two finer people in this world than Terry Brennan and Gerry Faust … they just didn't have the background experience. When you hire an assistant coach at Notre Dame, they are not necessarily going to be successful like Bob Davie and Charlie Weis, ect. …

"I think when you look at Brian Kelly's background it may be the third year he is going to win it. I don't know, I don't want to put pressure on him, but the guy is an organizer, he's fundamental, everything I hear up there about spring practice and playing for Notre Dame and holding everyone responsible.

Joking about why Notre Dame will not win a national title in 2011: "He has to play South Florida (on Sept. 3, 2011), and that is where my son (Skip) coaches.

"I don't think there is any doubt there are great days ahead for Notre Dame. When Notre Dame is on top, it's good for college football."

On how Notre Dame will be a different coaching experience for Kelly than the new coach's previous Division I stops at Central Michigan and Cincinnati: "The amount of attention, the media follows them. What I have found in sports, when you go to a school and you take it to the very top that's the story. That's what everybody wants to write about. What you find is once your on top, there is only one story are you beginning to fall back. And so being on top is no longer a story. It's about this guy didn't tie his shoes right and this guy did this and this guy had a beer, and it is just a constant exposure you have. At the same time, you have some difficulties within in the university where they make certain decisions that nobody on the outside understands.

"Yet, Notre Dame is a very special place. It isn't your team. You sort of take care of the team until the next guy comes along. It belongs to the university and the people. He will find out that it is just a very, very special place. And I'm sure he's found that.

"Ara Pareghian said to me when I went there that Notre Dame will be different than any place you have coached. He said if you are fortunate enough to win the championship the job would change again.

"Just being at Notre Dame, you walk out of your office, it's midnight, you're tired, it's snowing, you are worn out and it's June. It's just special."

The Journal Gazette's Assistant Sports Editor Tony Krausz covers The University of Notre Dame. Krausz, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a native of St. Louis, has been assistant sports editor since October 2005. Prior to joining the JG, he worked at two papers in Mississippi covering high school and college athletics.