Monday, August 31, 2009

Book Review: Resurrection by Jim Dent

Inept coaching. An administration deemphasizing football. Highly-touted recruits who didn't produce on the field. The team's best talent rotting on the bench. Dwindling fan support.

What has been true of the past decade of Irish football was true in the 1950s and early 60s, as Notre Dame followed Frank Leahy's tenure with a series of underqualified coaches and dismal records.

That is, until 1964, when the administration broke its tradition of hiring alumni of Irish descent and signed an Armenian Presbyterian to be there new head coach. If he could succeed and run a clean program at Northwestern, there's no reason why Ara Parseghian couldn't do it at Notre Dame.

Resurrection: The Miracle Season That Saved Notre Dame follows Parseghian and some of that rotting talent as they put together one of the most memorable years in Notre Dame's long history. Resurrection follows the miracle theme by highlighting, among others, Tony Carey, All-American Nick Rassas, NFL legend Jack Snow, and Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte, all of whom rarely saw the field before Parseghian took over. Jim Dent, author of The Junction Boys, does a fantastic job of intertwining the players' and coaches' stories with the events of the day, like the mourning of JFK and the advent of the British Invasion.

If you're a fan of the Era of Ara like we are, there's no reason not to love this book (especially thanks to a cameo appearance by Coach Yonto that's sure to elicit a smile from those who knew him). In building a chronological library of Notre Dame football history, Resurrection picks up where Shake Down the Thunder and Leahy's Lads left off.

Resurrection is due out September 1 from St. Martin's Press and Thomas Dunne Books. Thanks to both for the advance copy.