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FOOTBALL: Quinn, Samardzija named co-MVPs at banquet

Heather VanHoegarden | Monday, December 5, 2005

Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija were named co-MVPs at Friday night’s football banquet, which was highlighted by former Irish coach Lou Holtz as the guest speaker.

Holtz spoke in front of a sellout crowd of 1,900 after last year’s banquet was held privately, as it came on the heels of the firing of Tyrone Willingham. Holtz said Friday before the banquet that it was good to be back at the place where he coached from 1986-96.

“It’s just special every time you come back [to Notre Dame],” Holtz said. “You just get upbeat and uplifted.”

Quinn and Samardzija have shattered Notre Dame records this year, Quinn setting records for touchdown passes and passing yardage – both single-season and career – and Samardzija for touchdown receptions and single-season receiving yardage.

Senior offensive guard Dan Stevenson won the Guardian of the Year Award as the top offensive lineman, while junior defensive end Victor Abiamiri won the lineman of the year.

Three seniors and one junior won the Nick Pietrosante Award as individuals who best exemplified the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and pride shown by the late Notre Dame fullback. Linebacker Corey Mays, wide receiver Maurice Stovall, tight end Anthony Fasano and safety Tom Zbikowski shared the award.

Meanwhile, co-captain Brandon Hoyte won the Knute Rockne Student-Athlete award, as he boasts a 3.14 grade point average as a double major in psychology and management.

Finally, defensive tackle Trevor Laws and offensive guard Dan Santucci won the Westwood One/State Farm Student-Athlete of the Year award.

Before the banquet, Holtz talked about a number of different things, from comparing his Irish teams to today’s team to his relationship with Mark May of ESPN.

On the Guglielmino Athletics Facility:

“It’s really fantastic. Notre Dame’s changed an awful lot. You have tremendous facilities. You pay coaches now. But the one thing that you didn’t do – Notre Dame has not changed its values, its purpose and its mission. All the things you’re talking about, facilities and stuff, that doesn’t do anything but enhance Notre Dame. It’s not like you want to build a great football program at the expense of certain things. Notre Dame will always be the same, regardless.”

On whether any of his teams compare to the current Irish team:

“It doesn’t remind me of mine. Number one, I wouldn’t throw the ball.”

On Charlie Weis as a leader:

“There isn’t any doubt he’s in charge. People can name you the head football coach. What they can’t do is name you the leader. Titles come from above, leaders are determined by the people below. The person that they’re going to choose as a leader is someone who has a vision and a plan. From talking to Charlie, he has a vision and a plan.”

On sparring with Mark May about Notre Dame on the air:

“Mark May is one of the more astute, hardest working, intelligent people that expresses himself exceptionally well. He’s a true professional. Why he doesn’t like Notre Dame, he would have to answer, but boy he sure made me look good. I said to him on the air one time you’re gonna lose your job as an analyst if you keep thinking like this.”