SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The only way Lou Holtz knows how to coach is all out.
That's why he couldn't speak much louder than a whisper Saturday evening after coaching a group of former Notre Dame players for three days as they practiced for an exhibition game in Japan. It's also a big reason why he was among 21 people enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Holtz took over six struggling programs and turned them into bowl teams within two years. He led the Fighting Irish to their last national championship in 1988. Holtz said the key is to have a plan, to hold people accountable and to believe it can be done.
"You have to get people to make good decisions. Wherever you are in life, good or bad, it's because of the choices you make. Choose to succeed rather than fail. Choose to work hard rather than to loaf your way through it. We had a plan, a vision and we wouldn't compromise our core values," he said.
Among the others honored Saturday were former UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman, former Oklahoma State tailback Thurman Thomas, former Army quarterback Arnold Tucker and John Cooper, who coached at Ohio State, Arizona State and Tulsa.
Cooper recalled the long journey of his career, saying when he was a young assistant he would go to coaching conventions hoping to catch a glimpse of Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler and Bear Bryant. He said it was an unbelievable feeling to be joining them.
"It's a humbling experience to be in that group," he said.
Thomas, who still holds the Oklahoma State records for career rushing with 4,595 yards and went to four straight Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills, joked his biggest accomplishment might have been keeping Barry Sanders on the bench for two years.
"I practiced real hard and kept giving my coach a lot of money," he said.
Former Syracuse quarterback Don McPherson, the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1987, said being enshrined was a surreal experience.
"Because I don't see myself in the same class as some of the guys that are in the Hall of Fame, like this guy right here," McPherson said as former Arizona State offensive guard Randall McDaniel walked past. "It's fun just to be associated with these guys. I'm just a fan of college football. So for me, it's just fun to be around."
The festivities began Saturday with a parade and a pep rally, where those being honored were given their Hall of Fame blazers. The biggest applause was for Holtz. Shouts of "Looouuu" rang out when he was introduced and again when he was given his jacket.
Former LSU tailback Billy Cannon was enshrined into the hall 26 years after he was first elected. He was selected for the Hall of Fame in 1983, but that honor 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 2½ years.
Cannon, who won the Heisman in 1959 and played on the national championship team in 1958, said he holds no grudges about being the only person to ever have his selection rescinded.
"I thank the people who voted for me initially, and I really thank the people who voted for me the second time," said Cannon, who is now the dental director at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.
"To be in this hall and to be associated with the great players who have played this game in the past and to be associated with the great players who will play this game in the future, it's just an unbelievable thrill," he said.
Cannon didn't have the longest wait to get in, though. That honor went to former Army quarterback Arnold Tucker, who went undefeated at Army, going 27-0-1 from 1944-46 playing with Heisman Trophy winners Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, known as Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside.
"It came as quite a surprise, and it certainly was unanticipated," Tucker said. "I'm a big fan of Troy Aikman and Billy Cannon. I'm a fan of them and their play. So it's a real distinct honor to be associated with them."
College Hall of Fame inductees
Troy Aikman, UCLA QB
Roger Brown, Md.-Eastern Shore DB
Billy Cannon, LSU TB
Fred Dean, Louisiana Tech DT
Jim Dombrowski, Virginia OL
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern LB
Wilber Marshall, Florida LB
Ruben Mayes, Washington State RB
Randall McDaniel, Arizona State OG
Don McPherson, Syracuse QB
Sam Mills, Montclair State LB
Jay Novacek, Wyoming TE
Dave Parks, Texas Tech WR
Ron Simmons, Florida State DT
Rod Smith, Missouri Southern State WR
Thurman Thomas, Oklahoma State RB
Arnold Tucker, Army QB
Volney Ashford, coach
John Cooper, coach
Jim Donnan, coach
Lou Holtz, coach
Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.