UNBEATABLE by Jerry  Barca


Notre Dame's 1988 Championship and the Last Great College Football Season
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The inside account of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s 1988 championship team, which would “give birth to legends [and] restore the school’s stature in the game.”

Freelance journalist (and Notre Dame graduate) Barca tells the story of one of the best undefeated teams in the history of college football. Led by 5-foot-8-inch taskmaster coach Lou Holtz (“Have you challenged yourself today?...Are you the person you want to be?”), who demanded discipline, intensive workouts and teamwork—he had the names removed from the backs of the players’ jerseys to downplay individuals—the team restored the glory days of Notre Dame football in the tradition of Knute Rockne, the Four Horsemen and others who garnered multiple national championships in the preceding decades. Holtz so captivated quarterback Rice’s grandmother during a recruiting visit to her apartment in a public housing project that she later remarked, “You’re going to follow that little man.” He “taught us how to win football games,” said one player, who felt renewed confidence under the coach. Drawing on interviews and research, the author serviceably captures the unusual drive and holistic approach of Holtz; the intense recruitment of players; and the on-the-field performances of such players as star quarterback Tony Rice, running back Ricky Watters, and “Three Amigos” linebackers Wes Pritchett, Michael Stonebreaker and Frank Stams. He recounts several well-remembered games, notably the landmark 31-30 upset of top-ranked rival Miami, ending their 36-game winning streak. Barca attributes the team’s successes to Holtz, who preached his faith in the university’s spirit, and to the outstanding play of the quarterback and defensive line.

A mostly pedestrian sports book that will appeal to Notre Dame’s legions of fans.

Pub Date: Aug. 13th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-250-02483-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2013


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