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

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9781250024831: Unbeatable: Notre Dame's 1988 Championship and the Last Great College Football Season
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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.

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About the Author:

JERRY BARCA graduated from Notre Dame in 1999. While on campus he worked in the athletic department. He's currently a journalist whose writing has appeared on SI.com and in the Star-Ledger, Asbury Park Press, Home News Tribune, Syracuse Post-Standard, Herald News, the Courier-Post, and numerous Notre Dame game programs. He can be heard talking sports on Sirius/XM's Ron and Fez Show. He lives in New Jersey.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

CHAPTER 1
Unflinching

 
There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every affair under the heavens …
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.
—Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8
Shrieks and frenzied screams ricocheted off the locker room walls in a cacophony of rage and excitement. Tears rolled down some of the young men’s faces, an uncontrolled emotional response after launching into battle.
The days of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish playing the role of the nice weakling had ended.
Leaving the field after pregame warm-ups, the Miami Hurricanes chose to go through a line of Notre Dame players, rather than go around them. Miami met an unflinching Irish squad.
The Hurricanes, the No. 1 team in the country and the best program of the era, had been the chief tormentor of the Irish in recent years. In the schools’ previous two meetings Miami humbled Notre Dame by a total score of 82–7. Flashy on-field celebrations deepened the embarrassment doled out by the ’Canes.
Now Miami had traveled to Notre Dame Stadium, and the showy, bullying antics would not be tolerated. When the ’Canes breached the Notre Dame warm-up line, a fight exploded on the ground separating the end zone and the stadium’s lone tunnel.
“It was a melee. It wasn’t like guys fighting in a bar where they want someone to break it up. We did not care if someone broke it up. We wanted to take them there,” Notre Dame starting strong safety George Streeter said years later. “Quite frankly, for me, I wasn’t paying attention to the score. I wanted to win the fight.”
Stadium security and law enforcement officers stepped in to end it.
Both teams withdrew to their locker rooms.
Fifth-year senior Wes Pritchett, the middle linebacker who called the plays in the Irish defensive huddle, threw his helmet across the room.
Spit flew from Frank Stams’s mouth as the outside linebacker pumped up the defense that had gathered around him.
Blood rushed to the hands of quarterback Tony Rice, who had just been throwing punches in the clash.
Joe Moore, Notre Dame’s grizzled offensive line coach, who had graduated summa cum laude from football’s old school, cracked a green slate chalkboard with a kick.
“The whole thing put me in a fighting mood,” said Andy Heck, a quiet team captain and the starting offensive tackle.
The room grew quiet when head coach Lou Holtz addressed the team. The words that came out of his mouth were unexpected, a character departure, and they recharged the enraged atmosphere that had been subdued by his presence.
The skirmish with Miami made the statement that Notre Dame would no longer be pushed around. At the time, the Fighting Irish had not even reached the midpoint of the season.
By the end of the 1988 campaign, this Notre Dame squad would leave a path of battered All-American quarterbacks in its wake, give birth to legends, restore the school’s stature in the game, win a national title, and accomplish something no other team in the history of college football has done.


 
Copyright © 2013 by Jerry Barca

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