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Book Unbeatable: Notre Dame's 1988 Championship and the Last Great College Football Season


Unbeatable: Notre Dame's 1988 Championship and the Last Great College Football Season

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Unbeatable: Notre Dame's 1988 Championship and the Last Great College Football Season.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Jerry Barca(Author)

    Book details

Perhaps the best undefeated team in the history of college football―the dramatic true story of the 1988 Notre Dame Fighting Irish and their incredible unbeaten season

Unbeatable is the first book to tell the complete story of the incredible 1988 season that brought the fledgling Fighting Irish back to the top of college sports in what many consider to be the greatest unbeaten season of college football ever played. With a completely unlikely but forever memorable cast of characters―including the slight, lisping coach Lou Holtz; the star quarterback, Tony Rice; five foot nothing Asian kicker, Reggie Ho; NFL-bound Ricky Watters; and a crazed and ferocious defensive line, among others―Notre Dame whipped millions of fans into a frenzy. This roller coaster season of football includes the infamous Catholics vs. Convicts game (Notre Dame vs. Jimmy Johnson's #1 ranked Miami Hurricanes). The two teams were undefeated when they met at Notre Dame Stadium, with the Irish winning in the final seconds by a final score of 31-30.

With original reporting and interviews with everyone from the players to the coaches, detailed research, and access to the Notre Dame archives, Jerry Barca tells a gripping story of an unbelievable season and the players who would become legends. More than a Notre Dame book, Unbeatable is a compelling narrative of one of the most incredible sports stories of the last century―the unlikely tale of an underdog team coming together and making history.

Barca begins his vibrant look into Notre Dame's 1988 season with Lou Holtz, who took over after the Fighting Irish after suffering four inglorious years under Gerry Faust. Everyone was hungering for a return to glory, including Holtz, a winner who preached repetition and toughness: I'm here to win football games for the University of Notre Dame, Holtz told his players at one point. Not some of our games and not most of our games; I'm here to win all of our games. In season three, everything came together—a process that veteran sports journalist Barca (a 1999 Notre Dame graduate) covers with gusto. In talking to the key figures of that championship team—including Holtz, defensive coordinator Barry Alvarez, and many players—Barca reveals the players' emotional mind-set and the lure of Notre Dame (the latter sometimes gets lost in the football program's powerhouse trappings). In short, Barca celebrates the fun of college, while stripping Notre Dame football of its rah-rah mysticism. 16-page color photograph insert. Agent: Scott Gould, RLR Literary. (Aug.) The Notre Dame football program has an unparalleled history, except lately. But the school’s gridiron success in 2012 resuscitated Fighting Irish Nation. Given the renewed national interest, what better time to relive the exploits of the last Notre Dame team to win a national title, the 1988 Irish under Lou Holtz? Journalist Barca conducted dozens of first-person interviews with players, coaches, and administrators involved with the 1988 season, including 11 with star quarterback Tony Rice. Naturally, there are profiles of key players and coaches, and miniportraits of lesser characters in the drama. The game accounts are dramatic and detailed, and delivered with a sense of urgency. College sports, though, are dominated by the coaches, and the 1988 Irish were no exception. Holtz had taken over a program in disarray in 1986. By the time he resigned in 1996, he had the 1988 championship, as well as narrow misses in ’89 and ’93. He was a motivator and disciplinarian, but in person he was slight and spoke with a slight lisp—the antithesis of the blustery egomaniacs who rule college football. The resurgent interest in Notre Dame football should spur demand. --Wes Lukowsky

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Book details

  • PDF | 320 pages
  • Jerry Barca(Author)
  • St. Martin's Press (August 13, 2013)
  • English
  • 8
  • Sports & Outdoors

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Review Text

  • By Nashville Skyline on August 15, 2013

    Jerry Barca has crafted a timeless sports novel. Jerry is a regular on the Ron and Fez radio program (their producer purchased an a/c on amazon). He's an alumni of Notre Dame and his passion for the football team is unmatched. While reading this novel you feel like you are at the South Bend campus back in '88. The whole season is well documented, from the Catholics vs. Convicts game all the way to the championship. Jerry conducted interviews with all the major players and coaches and they provide terrific insight into their mindsets of that season. His personal feelings about Fez and Paul-O aside, Jerry's a terrific author and this is a highly enjoyable book. He should definitely be banking it up after this one, as he is on point. If you're a fan of football then you need to give this a read.

  • By Matthew Robinson on July 23, 2016

    I've read three books on Notre Dame's 1988 National Championship season. And I have to say that this one was by far the best of those three books.Author Jerry Barca really did his homework and really delved into what it took to make Notre Dame capture the national title in 1988. Reading this book, you can feel Irish fans' pain for not having a national title to brag about for 28 long, long years.One of the best stories in this book was about Tony Rice and his ups and downs with his scholastic and athletic pursuits. It was a trip to read through this book and see him go through some of the stuff he went through and then capture a national title ring in the January 1989 Fiesta Bowl.There was a story in this book on Rice where a kid saw the quarterback at a sporting event. This kid's STUPID and IGNORANT dad told the kid not to talk to Rice because he was a Prop 48 student (the 20th century term for college football players who were not academically eligible to play football in their freshman year).When I read that part, it gave me further notice on how ignorant and how fake a lot of football fans are. They treat you like you like you're a God when you're winning games and scoring touchdowns. But let you lose games and/or be academically ineligible and you'll see the REAL side of football fans.Barca is a heck of a writer and he proves that in this book. I'm not a Notre Dame football fan, but if anyone calls themselves a true Notre Dame football fan, then you need to purchase this book and read it in a quiet area of your home by yourself.

  • By jbaugh on September 14, 2017

    Very well written. A quick read --- gives details I've not seen before. Go Irish!

  • By Joseph McGarry on April 23, 2014

    I lived this book. I was a 3rd year law student in the fall of 1988. I'm what's called a Double Domer. I got my undergraduate degree in 1986. I was there throught the Gerry Faust years, which weren't all that great. Then Lou Holtz came in, and turned everything around. That's what this book documents. I was familiar with the story, but it was nice to hear the retelling. The book describes the down years, and then the comeback. I always wonder, if overtime had been around in 1988, would Miami have just tried for the extra point and taken their chances in overtime? Who knows? And yes, I was there for the Miami game when Pat Terrell batted down the 2 point try at the end of the Miami game, which helped propel Notre Dame to the national championship in 1988. This book goes through all the games, and describes some of them in detail, including Michigan, Miami, and USC. Sadly, this was Notre Dame's last national championship. We came close in 2012, but we can be back soon. Great book for any Irish fan, as well as anyone who wants to know about the last great college football season. Go Irish!

  • By Bookreporter on September 24, 2013

    It is difficult to separate Notre Dame football from the religious foundations of the university. Appropriately, the up-and-down sagas of the Fighting Irish are often measured by the word resurrection. Notre Dame has been the subject of several football resurrections during the course of its fabled college football history. They were a powerhouse through the Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy eras but fell on hard times in the 1950s. In 1964, they turned to Ara Parseghian, who returned them to their glory days on the gridiron. That story was chronicled by Jim Dent in RESURRECTION and reviewed on the pages of in 2011.In 1980, Notre Dame hired Gerry Faust, the successful coach of Moeller High School in Cincinnati, to lead their football fortunes. He led them to disaster. Faust was a devout Catholic and a coach with high ethics but was not up to coaching at the college level. During his tenure at Notre Dame, he won 30 games and lost 26, not nearly enough to meet the demands of the true alumni as well as the "subway" supporters. When his team was humiliated by Miami of Florida in a 58-7 drubbing, it was time for him to go.The second resurrection of Notre Dame football was placed in the hands of Lou Holtz, then the coach at Minnesota. UNBEATABLE by Jerry Barca is the story of Notre Dame's return to football glory and their national championship team of 1988. As the Irish celebrate the 25th anniversary of the last undefeated national championship team at Notre Dame, Barca looks at the 1988 season through the eyes of the players and coaches who led the Irish to a Fiesta Bowl victory over West Virginia in a battle between undefeated teams. There was no BCS National Championship game on January 2, 1989, when Notre Dame defeated the Mountaineers 34-21. Polls crowned the winner. It would be Notre Dame's 11th national championship, and although they played Alabama for the championship this past season, they were trounced convincingly 42-14.Barca does a workman-like job of telling the story of this magical season. Along the way, he acknowledges that Notre Dame, a school with high academic standards, was required to relax those lofty requirements to enroll some players who might otherwise have been denied admission. Tony Rice, who quarterbacked the team, enrolled at Notre Dame under the provisions of NCAA Proposition 48. Rice came to Notre Dame with less than the minimum acceptable grades to be eligible to play as a freshman. But by his sophomore year, his grades allowed him to play and he quarterbacked the Irish for part of the 1987 season. Rice was a talented option quarterback who, while not an accomplished passer, had the ability to make the big plays. As the 1988 season concluded, he led the Irish to wins over Miami of Florida, Penn State and USC. Those victories vaulted Notre Dame to a number one national ranking and the Fiesta Bowl game.Lou Holtz was the man who molded Notre Dame into a championship team. Many of his players were holdovers from the Faust regime, but Holtz was a dynamic recruiter and players such as Rice, Ricky Watters and Rocket Ismail brought talent and speed to the football program. Barca covers each game of the season with entertaining asides on the players, coaches and history that is Notre Dame football.Whether you are a Notre Dame lover or hater, if you love college football, this is a book for you. As the Irish return to national prominence on the football field, sports fans will enjoy the story of their second resurrection during their undefeated season.Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman

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