Cordelli says Hogs vs. Ir­ish spe­cial

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - THE SECOND PAGE - NATE ALLEN

FAYETTEVILLE — Other than Lou Holtz, no­body brings in­sight like Pete Cordelli into this first-time Arkansas vs. Notre Dame foot­ball home-and-home se­ries.

It re­cently was an­nounced that in 2020 the Notre Dame Fight­ing Ir­ish will host the Ra­zor­backs in their first foot­ball meet­ing in South Bend, Ind.

Notre Dame in 2025 com­pletes the home-and-home at the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayetteville’s Reynolds Ra­zor­back Sta­dium.

Holtz coached the Ra­zor­backs from 1977-1983 and coached the Fight­ing Ir­ish from 1986-1996. He also served as a net­work TV col­lege foot­ball an­a­lyst.

Cordelli had two Arkansas years, 1977 and 1978, as a grad­u­ate as­sis­tant and re­turned full time as re­ceivers coach in 1983. He as­sisted Holtz from 1986-1990 at Notre Dame be­fore land­ing the head coach­ing gig at Kent State.

Now re­tired, Cordelli has ex­ten­sive me­dia ex­pe­ri­ence as a sports talk ra­dio host in Mem­phis. He didn’t shy away from the fact the seat is siz­zling un­der Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly com­ing off a 4-8 sea­son, and he knows some Arkansas na­tives are rest­less af­ter Coach Bret Bielema’s 7- 6 Ra­zor­backs closed 2016 by blow­ing 24-7 and 24-0 half­time leads.

“Who are go­ing to be the coaches in 2020 and who are go­ing to be the ADs?” Cordelli asked rhetor­i­cally, not­ing foot­ball coach­ing heat can torch ath­letic di­rec­tors, too.

Cordelli said he be­lieves both “can turn it around, and I hope both coaches do turn it around.”

If one doesn’t, Cordelli says Louisiana Tech Coach Skip Holtz, the son of Lou Holtz, would be a good can­di­date for ei­ther pro­gram.

“Skip is do­ing a great job at Louisiana Tech,” Cordelli said. “And he grew up go­ing to Fayetteville High School. And at Notre Dame, Skip played there and coached there. So he’s got a con­nec­tion to both schools that’s pretty strong.”

Cordelli said the tra­di­tions of Notre Dame and Arkansas make it a huge game.

“The Arkansas fans, man, they are some of the best fans in the coun­try,” Cordelli said. “And the Notre Dame fans are also some of the best. So I like the matchup be­cause of the his­tory of both pro­grams.” Notre Dame’s his­tory as the na­tion’s most chron­i­cled col­lege foot­ball team since Knute Rockne coached the Fight­ing Ir­ish from 1918-1930 speaks for it­self.

But Cordelli said never dis­count what re­tired Arkansas ath­letic di­rec­tor and coach Frank Broyles built at Arkansas with its fer­vent fan base.

Even with sacri­fi­cial lamb New Mex­ico State as the op­po­nent, Cordelli — who had played for Holtz at North Carolina State — said he still gets goose­bumps re­call­ing the War Memo­rial Sta­dium crowd when Holtz’s 1977 Ra­zor­backs de­buted in Lit­tle Rock.

“When they brought the hog around on the trailer and went around the sta­dium, I had never heard how loud they were,” Cordelli said. “It was like, man, this is col­lege foot­ball.”

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