Review: Heart Stoppers and Hail Marys - The Great College Football Finishes (Since 1970)


Author Ted Mandel puts a book together that is perfect for people like me. I'll be blunt. I literally suffer from somewhat of a depression when it's not football season.

'Heart Stoppers and Hail Marys - The Greatest College Football Finishes (Since 1970)' contains 116 of the greatest finishes of Division I-III college football games. The book begins appropriately with a foreword by Doug Flutie talking about the "The Pass" - the 1983 bomb over Miami with three seconds left that won him the Heisman Trophy and one of the biggest finishes in college football history.

Each 'Heart Stopper' story is laid out in simple fashion:

  • The Background - what was happening to the teams, players, or coaches at the time the game was played.
  • The Play - the play that brought about the big finish.
  • The Aftermath - what happened after the game, what were the rewards, and the consequences.

The book can be read a story at a time. You can leave it laying around and come back to it at any point, to any story, which makes it a great bathroom book.

If the stories ain't enough, you get a two-CD set that contains the audio calls of each finish. Some are simple, maybe 40 seconds of action but some are downright inspirational. My favorite is the call from the 1979 Indiana-Michigan game by Bob Ufer in which the announcer has screamed beyond his voice - "I have broadcast 347 games and I've never had one like this!"

Amongst the famous endings:

  • Flutie to Phalen bomb over Miami in 1983 that won Doug Flutie the Heisman trophy
  • Colorado over Michigan with the bomb by Kordell Stewart that broke Michigan's heart in a game they had won
  • Nebraska over Missouri with 'The Kick' in 1997 to preserve Nebraska's run to an eventual national title
  • Texas over USC in the 2006 Rose Bowl
  • 'The Play' - Cal over Stanford and John Elway in 1982 - if you've never heard the "'The Band is Out on the Field' radio call, here it is

Some are not so famous but are brilliant just the same.

In a word - inspirational. The college off-season is a long time away from something I love dearly. You can attend Dale Carnegie courses, read your Bible, taunt your neighbor, or whatever gets you going, but I could not help but be moved when listening to the book's CD's and hearing the excitement in the announcers' voices and the crowd. I'd go so far to say that the book, along with the CD, used sparingly can chase your off-season blues away. If you're looking for a birthday present for your college football fan, or just want something around to read during the off-season, this one is a great choice.

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