Exclusive: Lou Holtz weighs in on Manti Te'o hoax

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 17, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: The world of college football is reeling after it was revealed that the heart-wrenching story about the popular Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's girlfriend dying of leukemia was nothing more than a hoax.

Now in a minute, I'll be joined exclusively by legendary Notre Dame Coach, our friend Lou Holtz. We'll also be checking in tonight with Eric Bolling, Kimberly Guilfoyle, David Limbaugh and Juan Williams will be here tonight. All of that, plus our examples of media bias.

But first, here is how this story unfolded. Yesterday, Deadspin.com broke the news that Manti's alleged girlfriend never even existed. Now this past season, college football fans rallied around the Fighting Irish football player after he claimed that his grandmother and his girlfriend died on the exact same day in September.

Now, listen to what Manti told ESPN about his fake girlfriend back in October. Watch this.


MANTI TE'O, NOTRE DAME LINEBACKER: I've seen the most beautiful girl I've ever met. Not the because of her physical beauty, but the beauty of her -- of her character and who she is. She is just that person that I turn to.

When you have somebody that you talk to every single day that you speak with on the phone because she is going through a lot of things and the only way that she can sleep if she knows I'm on the other side of the phone. And you can do that every single night, every single night for the past four months and all of a sudden it's silence. Dead silence really eats at you.


HANNITY: Now, Manti is defending himself saying that he was the one who was duped, and yesterday he released a statement that reads in part, quote, "This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman that I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone and I grew to care deeply about her. I realize that I was a victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and it is, painful and humiliating."

There are more questions here than answers when it comes to the story, but even Notre Dame is now standing by their star. Watch this.


JACK SWARBRICK, NOTRE DAME ATHLETIC DIRECTOR: Every single thing about this, until that day in the first week of December, was real to Manti. There was no, no suspicion that it wasn't, no belief that it might not be, and so, the pain was real, the grief was real, the affection was real. And that's the nature of this sad, cruel game.

There's a lot of tragedy here. There's a lot of sorrow here. But the thing I am most sad of, sad about is -- sorry. That the single most trusting human being I've ever met will never be able to trust in the same way again in his life. That's an incredible tragedy.


HANNITY: Now, joining me now for his very first interview, television interview since the shocking story broke is former Notre Dame Football coach, our good friend Lou Holtz is with us.

Coach, welcome back, sir, good to see you.

LOU HOLTZ, FORMER NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL COACH: Thank you. Good to be with you again, Sean.

HANNITY: All right. As you know, I'm a huge Notre Dame fan, amazing football year, I know you were excited, I was excited. I wanted them to win the championship game. Alabama is a tough team. Nick Saban is a tough coach. I see this story, I honestly don't know what to think. I want to get your thoughts on it.

HOLTZ: Well, first of all, I know Manti Te'o, he's a wonderful young man, a very kind caring individual. But when you look at the story, you say there's no way this could possibly happen. Don't tell me this could be true. For two and a half years, you have had a relationship with a person online, you never met them, never talked to them and yet, you devoted your life to them? You look and say, there's questions that only Manti can answer, he needs to have an interview and say, this is what happened, this is what I knew, when I knew it and how I knew it.

On the other hand, Sean, I have great faith and confidence in Notre Dame. Jack Swarbrick, the athletic director of Notre Dame is one of the most honest people you'll ever want to meet. I also know after being with at Notre Dame for 11 years, I know how they handle a crisis. They do not circle the wagons around an individual, I can assure you.

And when he said, we hired an outside investigating firm, and they came in and looked at it, and they said that absolutely Manti Te'o had nothing at all to do with it. That means that they probably checked his phone records, they checked everything that he talked about, and when Notre Dame and Jack Swarbrick gets on, he said, we believe him 100 percent after having an outside investigator, I say I've got to believe that until somebody else tells me different, but I think we need to hear from Manti.

HANNITY: All right. That's a great insight into Notre Dame, which is the college, you know, I know you love, I love Notre Dame. That's a great insight that nobody else has brought up before. So, I gave a lot of credibility because you know they don't circle the wagons. They did an investigation.



HOLTZ: Well, I just, you know, when Notre Dame is on top, there's always going to be a controversy, there's going to be all kinds of things. When I was with Notre Dame after we won the National Championship, they came out with the book "Under the Tarnished Dome." I will tell you, Notre Dame said, we will investigate, we'll let it go where it is. They didn't rally the wagons around me. The Athletic Director Dick Rosenthal, one of my best friends, they asked him, and they said, well, what about Lou Holtz? He says if this is true, I'll miss him. I mean, that's their attitude.

And so, I know that Notre Dame is not going to whitewash anything. You're talking about Father Jekkie (ph), you talked about the authors, you look at that board of trustees talking about who is who in America. They would not tolerate for anything.

And let's remember this, also, Sean, Notre Dame did not need to get involved in it. They could have just said, well, it's not our case, go talk to Manti. No, they brought in investigator, looked at it and came to this conclusion and until somebody proves me differently after having been at Notre Dame, loving that school as much as I do, and three of my children graduating from, I have to say I'm going to believe him, support him until somebody proves different and I don't think that will happen.

HANNITY: Obviously, he's a great ball player.

HOLTZ: Oh, yes.

HANNITY: Is there any part of this story on the surface that's questionable to you? For example, he played the day the funeral of this girlfriend supposedly took place, he had two interceptions, they beat Michigan and he said all she ever wanted was white roses, but there was no funeral. Where did he send them? You know, how do you have a girlfriend for that long a period of time and apparently he said he had met her at a game and Stanford and, do you see holes in this story that concern you?

HOLTZ: I don't know if you're listening when I first came on.

HANNITY: I heard you.


I can't believe -- the investigation.

HOLTZ: There's no answer. I mean, there's so many things that just don't hold true. Now, let's understand this, Manti Te'o is a great football player, he didn't need the inspiration. I do think the fact that it probably helped him in the Heisman to finish runner up for a linebacker, but I don't believe that he had anything he was going to benefit from this. For whatever reason, I don't know.

Manti Te'o is the only one that can answer these questions. What I know, when did I know it, how did I know it? That's all we want to know. But until then, I'm going to go along with the University of Notre Dame because I know the people there have great integrity. I know what the university stands for and I know what their history and tradition --

HANNITY: I'm going to go with you.

HOLTZ: -- about finding the truth and backing the truth.

HANNITY: All right, as somebody who loves Notre Dame, by the way, it was hard being in the house with an Alabama grad on championship night because I'm pulling for Notre Dame, she's pulling for the tide and it was a little difficult. It didn't come out the way I wanted, coach.

But let me ask you this. And I think this is very, very important. What do you make of this -- you comment about society all the time. I mean, we've got baseball players can't get into the Hall of Fame anymore because they used performance enhancing drugs. We've got the Lance Armstrong, quote, "confession, non-confession." People now -- remember, the Chicago Black Sox, say it ain't so. Is this a reflection of society that maybe people aren't as honest as they used to be when we look up to a lot of these athletes?

HOLTZ: I think absolutely because when you are dishonest, there isn't a lot of ramifications from it. My wife and I are opposite as night and day, she says opposites attract and attack, we watch different TV stations. I came down the other night, she was watching "Happy Days," I guess it was. I said, what are you doing? She said, how great it was when we were young and people dealt with other people and now our grandchildren and everybody else deals with computers and Internet and all of these other things.

I think you go back to what happened in society. If we will just follow three simple rules, do the right thing, do the best you can, show people you care. There used to be a great deal of emphasis put on being honest, doing the right thing. And pressure came not from your family, but everybody else, that was just the way our country lived.

They talk about gun laws, I tell you what, just double the punishment for anybody uses a crime with a gun. You rob with a knife, you get five years, rob with a gun, you get 10 years. Let's go back to common sense, let's do the right thing and let's put pressure on people that don't do the right thing and stop making excuses for everybody else. You can mark me down as undecided.

HANNITY: All right. I'm with you. Coach, I appreciate you being with us. The same thing in politics, I did not have sex with that woman. Politicians lie. And we have the dirtiest campaign in history, coach.

All right. Good to see you. Coach Lou Holtz.

HOLTZ: Pleasure to be with you.

HANNITY: Notre Dame is coming back next year to win the championship game. My prediction. Good to see you.

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