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Perfect Rivals: Notre Dame, Miami, and the…

Perfect Rivals: Notre Dame, Miami, and the Battle for the Soul of College…

by Jeff Carroll

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I have read quite a few Notre Dame books over the years, but this one REALLY got my blood boiling. I was never old enough to experience the great rivalry with "The U" during the 80s, but my father would always tell me great things about it (with a heavy bias towards Notre Dame of course).

I was shocked to learn many things about both squads during this nasty rivalry. Carroll does an excellent job of explaining the historical pasts of both institutions' football programs that help lay the groundwork for the tremendous clashes that helped changed the face of college football. My intense hatred for the Hurricanes was fueled by my father's when I was growing up, but after reading this book, I have to admit that it has been tempered. I have a respect for Miami now because of the intense hatred they faced during their rise for simply being who they were. Miami revolutionized college football in the 80s, and they should be forever thanked and praised for that.

On the other side, I learned that Notre Dame isn't the saintly program that my father always cracked it up to be as well. I already knew that Notre Dame wasn't perfect, but some of the stuff they did during the late 80s and into the 90s is suspect at best. However, Notre Dame also revolutionized college football during the same time by signing en exclusive contract with NBC. They have always been innovators in a business savvy way, and this is no different. Any other program would have done the same thing if they had the foresight and means necessary.

Overall, this is a VERY interesting book that explores one of the most heated and intense rivalries of all-time. Although it was brief, the Notre Dame-Miami rivalry helped bring college football into the forefront in terms of ratings and passion for sports. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in sports, and my last parting shot is: GO IRISH! ( )
  rsplenda477 | Mar 18, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345517105, Hardcover)

College football is a sport of rivalries—and no two teams were ever more perfectly matched than the Miami Hurricanes and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In Perfect Rivals, award-winning sportswriter Jeff Carroll takes us inside the locker rooms and onto the gridiron, as two storied programs with very different cultures battle for national supremacy, school pride, and the soul of the game itself.

Beginning with the Hurricanes’ nationally televised 58–7 pasting of the Irish at the Orange Bowl in November 1985, the two teams faced each other five times over a six-year span. The last three of those games had national championship implications, as a resurgent Notre Dame sought to reclaim its historic preeminence against a faster, mouthier, more talented Miami squad notorious for trash-talking opponents, stalking out of pregame buffets, and wearing military fatigues on the team plane. The games were marked by heartbreaking finishes, disputed plays, and nasty onfield brawls. Adding fuel to the fire was a controversial slogan created by a Notre Dame student and picked up by the press—“Catholics vs. Convicts”—which served to heighten the cultural (and, some would say, racial) tension between the opposing schools.

Carroll’s fast-paced, up-close-and-personal narrative centers on a handful of colorful characters on both sides of the rivalry: the coaches, from dapper Jimmy Johnson to punctilious Lou Holtz, and the players, including Miami’s Steve Walsh, a quiet Midwesterner and one-time Holtz recruit who defied the freewheeling Miami stereotype, and devout Baptist Tony Rice, only the second black quarterback in Notre Dame history, who defined the rivalry and decided the contests.

Filled with you-are-there depictions of game action and insights drawn from Carroll’s unfettered access to many of the major figures involved, Perfect Rivals is a vivid re-creation of one of the most entertaining eras in the history of college football.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:35 -0400)

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