NEW YORK (AP) -Lou Holtz's first big break in his Hall of Fame career came when he got dumped by his girlfriend.
With no good reason to stay in Ohio, he left a job coaching high school football and became a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa in 1960.
In the end, the scrappy, little coach with the lisp got the gig and the girl. Beth soon had a change of heart and she and Holtz have been married for 47 years.
``Had it not been for my wife, I'd still been in high school,'' Holtz said Thursday after a news conference to announce that he was one of 15 newly elected College Football Hall of Famers.
Joining the 71-year-old Holtz, who won 249 games with six schools and a national title at Notre Dame in 1988, at a news conference in Manhattan were former Northwestern linebacker and current Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald and former Syracuse quarterback Don McPherson.
The other 11 players chosen by the National Football Foundation's selection committee were: UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman; LSU tailback Billy Cannon; Virginia offensive tackle Jim Dombrowski; Florida linebacker Wilber Marshall; Washington State running back Ruben Mayes; Arizona State guard Randall McDaniel; Wyoming tight end Jay Novacek; Texas Tech split end Dave Parks; Florida State nose guard Ron Simmons; Oklahoma State running back Thurman Thomas; and Army quarterback Arnold Tucker.
John Cooper, who went 192-84-6 with Tulsa, Arizona State and Ohio State, was the other coach elected.
The class will be inducted at the NFF banquet in New York in December and enshrined in the summer of 2009 at the Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind.
Mary in 1969. He also had successful stints at North Carolina State, Arkansas, Minnesota and South Carolina, leading all of them to bowl games. But his greatest achievements came at Notre Dame, where he won 100 games and the storied program's last national championship.
``When I first heard I was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, I just went 'Wow! Wow!' I'm going to join all the great coaches in there,'' Holtz said before reeling off some historic names. ``You start thinking about the great ones from Notre Dame, Parseghian, etc. And Broyles and Royal and Bear Bryant and Woody Hayes. You start thinking, 'How'd this happen?'''
For Cannon, who led LSU to a national title in 1958 and won the Heisman Trophy in '59, this was the second time he's been elected to the Hall of Fame.
In the early 1980s, he was voted in, but the invitation was rescinded after he was arrested on federal counterfeiting charges. Cannon pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison in 1983. He served 2 1/2 years.
Cannon's first reaction when told he was elected to the Hall?
``Again,'' he said with a laugh.
``I have no problem with it,'' Cannon told The Associated Press by phone from the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, where he's worked as a dentist for 13 years. ``I was tickled and happy.''
Cannon is responsible for one of the most famous plays in Southeastern Conference history. His 89-yard punt return for a touchdown on Halloween night 1959 helped the Tigers beat rival Mississippi 7-3.
Aikman started his college career at Oklahoma, then transferred to UCLA. After two stellar seasons (1987-88) with the Bruins, he was drafted first overall by the Dallas Cowboys. He inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
``College football has meant so much to the sporting history of our country, and it means a lot to me personally,'' Aikman said in a statement. ``The opportunity to share this recognition with my former Cowboys teammate Jay Novacek will make this experience all the more rewarding.''
Fitzgerald was a two-time winner of the Bednarik Award as the national defensive player of the year and the leader of Northwestern's surprising '95 team, which earned the school its first Rose Bowl appearance in 47 years.
``This will be the highest honor I can ever have awarded to me,'' Fitzgerald said at the news conference.
McPherson was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1987 to Notre Dame receiver Tim Brown.
``The game of football has given me more than I have given it,'' McPherson said.

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