Story entered Saturday, 08/04/2001  


Thrillers still live on in book by Mandell

By Joe Doyle of the South Bend Tribune

"Heart Stoppers and Hail Marys."

That's the title of Ted Mandell's book. It is not about medicine or about religion. It's all about college football, a passion of the Notre Dame associate professional specialist long before his days as a member of the university band in the mid-1980s..

Most fans know the "Hail Mary" nickname that has been applied to any last minute pass that is flung toward the end zone, hoping for a completion, a tipped ball or maybe even a defensive foul to extend the game.

Hail Mary, it is in the case of Doug Flutie's greatest moment in football for Boston College against Miami in 1984. Or as in Kordell Stewart of Colorado, who completed an amazing 73-yard heave that was tipped and then caught in the end zone by teammate Michael Westbrook to defeat Michigan, 27-26, in Ann Arbor in 1994.

In an amazingly detailed compilation, Mandell has recapped the moments in 100 college games (1970-1999) that qualify as heart stoppers. And on an accompanying CD, the big moments of 64 of those games are replayed in the radio or television audio voices of game announcers.

You might think that Domer Mandell might have selected only the highly-publicized Division I college games. Not so. His detailed research includes such teams as Thomas More vs. Defiance; Principia vs. Illinois College, Lycoming vs. Susquehanna, and, of course, eight Notre Dame games in those 30 years.

Mandell starts off with a lone game from the 1960s, a game that was not even won, but a 29-all tie between Yale and Harvard in the 1968 Ivy League finale. Mandell labels if the "founding father of all great finishes." Harvard scored two touchdowns and two 2-point conversions in the last 42 seconds to achieve the tie.

There are games from the Big Ten. Michigan is involved in five games and the other conference teams are all depicted at least once. The Pac-10, the Big 8 (or 12), the Southeastern, Southwest and almost every area of the country is represented. Heart Stoppers have no boundaries.

What is most amazing is that Mandell could amass such an inventory in what must have been a great research project. And he credits most of his helpers in an extensive acknowledgment section at the start of the book

The book's foreword is by that renowned Hail Mary person, Flutie, who labels his 65-yard (officially 48) tipped pass to roommate Gerard Phelan "the signature play of my career."

The pass and Flutie's 34-of-46 completions for 472 yards helped him to the Heisman trophy and a 10-2 record for B.C. and No. 5 in the nation.

Mandell says, "I have received a bit of flack because there are eight Notre Dame games on the list and only five from Michigan. But you have to admit I was pretty careful. Four of the Irish games were victories (Houston in 1979, Michigan in 1980, Miami in 1988 and Penn State in 1992). And there are four losses (Purdue in 1981, Colorado in 1991, Tennessee in 1991 and Boston College in 1993)."

One of Mandell's favorites on the CD is Michigan's last-second -21 victory over Indiana in 1979. Tony Roberts and the Westwood crew (including Tom Pagna) are featured in the CD audio.

Mandell's publisher is Diamond Communications of South Bend. He has scheduled an autograph session for next Saturday during induction weekend at the College Football Hall of Fame. And he is promising a $10 price cut (off the $49.95 list) for that signing. He also will autograph at the Notre Dame bookstore on home football weekends.

College fans surely will like Mandell's compilation.

[Heart Stoppers and Hail Marys: 100 of the Greatest College Football Finishes (1970-1999)]