Cornelius “Corny” Southall was a star football player in Rush-Henrietta where he earned several athletic accolades, including USA Today High School All-American. He went on to the University of Notre Dame on an athletics scholarship. While at Notre Dame Cornelius earned a starting role at free safety for the 1988 NCAA Football National Champions. After graduating from college with a degree in Business Management, Cornelius joined the United States Secret Service and enjoyed a 27-year career on Presidential Protection Division detail for several sitting and past presidents, that included Richard Nixon to Donald Trump. He’s now a proud homemaker to his wife of 22 years and their three children. Below is a wonderful story that speaks to special bond Coach Holtz has with his plays post playing days at Notre Dame.
One workday at the White House found Southall standing in front of the Oval Office with President Clinton in the room behind him.
Says Southall, “The door was closed and Clinton’s main staff person runs out of the secretaryʼs office, and I hear him say, ‘I believe heʼs late. Holtz is never late.’
“At that point I’m thinking, ‘There is no way theyʼre talking about Coach Lou Holtz.’ Iʼm standing there waiting, and the aide runs back in, and heʼs running because theyʼre waiting for this individual to show up and now theyʼre behind schedule.
“As he is running out of the office again, I stopped him and said, ‘I know youʼre waiting for someone and I heard Holtz.’ He turns to me and says, ‘Yeah, Lou Holtz from Notre Dame is supposed to meet with President Clinton and heʼs late.’ Coach Holtz is NEVER late!
“I’m standing outside the office of Betty Currie, the secretary for President Clinton. All of a sudden I hear that familiar voice. Iʼm standing at the door and I donʼt say a word.
“Coach Holtz comes around the corner and he just stops and looks at me and he yells, ‘Corny Southall, oh, my goodness.’
“He runs over, I go to shake his hand and he gives me a big bear hug. And Iʼm just trying to maintain my composure.
“All this is going on outside the Oval Office, and President Clinton comes out and says, ‘What the heck is going on out here? Whatʼs all the commotion?’
“Iʼm standing there and Iʼm worried about getting in trouble from work, and Coach Holtz says, ‘Do you know who this is? Do you know who this is?’
“And President Clinton is looking at me like, ‘No, I donʼt know who he is. Heʼs one of my agents, one of my Secret Service guys.
“So Coach Holtz says, ‘This is Corny Southall, one of my players who won a national title. Great young man. Great family. How are your parents?’
“Coach Holtz starts talking to me and not really saying anything to the president.