Story entered Wednesday, 08/29/2001  


Heart Stoppers, Hail Marys: It's Gooooooood!

By Brett McMurphy of the Tampa Tribune

If college football is the greatest sport - and it is - then ``Heart Stoppers and Hail Marys'' is one of the greatest books on the subject.

Written by Notre Dame professor Ted Mandell, ``Heart Stoppers and Hail Marys'' chronicles 100 of college football's greatest finishes between 1970-99. The 336 pages provide unforgettable anecdotes, quotes and insights into each game.

Among the famous finishes: Harvard and Yale's 29-29 tie, Notre Dame's 1979 Cotton Bowl win vs. Houston, Cal's 1982 ``The band is on the field!'' win vs. Stanford and Boston College's 1984 Hail Flutie to beat Miami.

Several games with state ties are included: Florida-Georgia 1980 (``Run Lindsay Run!''); the 1984 Orange Bowl (Miami's 31-30 upset of No. 1 Nebraska for its first national title); Florida-Kentucky 1993 (``Doering's got a touchdown! Doering's got a touchdown!'') and Virginia's upset of Florida State in 1995.

In all, 113 teams and 25 Hail Marys are featured from the obscure (six Division III contests) to the obvious.

Notre Dame tops the list with eight games, followed by five games each featuring Florida, Miami, Alabama, Auburn, Michigan and Ohio State.

FSU only has two games among the 100 - mercifully because Mandell didn't include games decided by missed field goals.

As entertaining as the book is, the audio CD, with the actual radio broadcasts of 64 games, is even better.

Each broadcaster has his unique flair. Kansas State's Mitch Holthus: ``What it is? What it is? It's a big, big, big, big, big, big touchdown!''

Then there's the unidentified woman in the South Carolina radio booth celebrating the Gamecocks' 1993 victory vs. Georgia like Meg Ryan in ``When Harry Met Sally.'' ``Yes! Yes! Yes! YES! YES! YES!''

However, the unquestioned best of the bunch is the impassioned call by Michigan's Bob Ufer following Anthony Carter's 45-yard TD pass from Johnny Wangler to beat Indiana on the final play in 1979.

``Johnny Wangler to Anthony Carter. Oh my God! CARTER SCORES! I've never seen anything like this ... Oh my goodness gracious sakes! You're listening to it and I hope you can hear me because I've never been so happy in all my 59 cotton-picking years. ``I've broadcast 347 ballgames. I've never had one like this. ... Carter went streaking down there like a penguin with a hot herring in his cummerbund, only he didn't have the herring until he took the post pattern, went in and caught it at the 15. ``He caught the ball, dove in the end zone. Michigan wins 27-21! They aren't even going to try the extra point. Who cares? Who gives a damn? I've never been so happy in all my cotton-picking days!''

And just like all the exuberant screams calling those last- second winning field goals, ``Heart Stoppers and Hail Marys'' can be summed up in two words: It's Gooooooood!

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