Novak: Notre Dame book ‘Always Fighting Irish’ tops Xmas list

Published 2:50 pm Thursday, November 29, 2012

By SCOTT NOVAK, Leader Publications Sports Editor

The holiday season is upon us and there is always that one person who is tough to buy for.

If that person happens to be a Notre Dame fan, or perhaps, a fan of college football in general, then “Always Fighting Irish” could be the answer to your problem.

Written by John Heisler and Tim Prister with a forward by former Irish player Reggie Brooks, who is an assistant coach at Niles High School, “Always Fighting Irish” hits the mark. After all, Heisler and Prister have lived Notre Dame football for a majority of their lives.

Heisler is in his 35th year with Notre Dame athletics. He spent 16 years as the school’s sports information director before being named senior associate athletics director for media and broadcast relations in 2004.

Prister is a 1982 graduate of Notre Dame and was editor of the Blue & Gold Illustrated for 20 years before becoming senior editor of, his current position. Between them, they have seen hundreds of Notre Dame football games and are true “Irish insiders.”

Among the things you will find in “Always Fighting Irish” as listed on the book’s back cover are:
• 25 unforgettable Notre Dame football traditions
• The most memorable games in Fighting Irish history
• Notre Dame football’s all-time 125 most important people
• ND’s top rivals: from Army to USC
• Championship – and near-championship – seasons
• Every bowl game, from the Rose to the Sun

Two of my favorite sections among those are the most memorable games in Fighting Irish history and Notre Dame football’s all-time 125 most important people.

I have spent more than 20 years covering the Fighting Irish on and off. Throughout those years, I have witnessed many of the games that are talked about and seen many of those players perform on the field.

While the first of two chapters on Notre Dame games is a little before my time, there are some that have become legendary in Irish lore, including the 1966 10-10 tie with Michigan State, which is one of the longer stories in the two-chapter section of the book.

It was interesting reading the comments from some of the players who took part in the contest. What was even more interesting is how they spoke of the contest with such reverence.

I was more familiar with games in the second chapter, including all of the Michigan contests and games such as the 1979 contest against South Carolina, an 18-17 win over the Irish; the first night game at Notre Dame Stadium in 1982 when the Fighting Irish edged the Wolverines 23-17; the 1988 game against Miami and,  perhaps the one that most sticks out in my mind, the 1993 battle between No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 1 Florida State.

The house was not only packed, but people were paying ridiculous prices for tickets outside the stadium just for a chance to see the game. Besides remembering what a great game it was, I recall being moved out of the press box and into the stands due to the number of media members who wanted to attend the game. It was a madhouse.

The bottom line is that it’s the perfect gift for the Notre Dame or college football fan on your Christmas list. And with a list price of just $18.95 from Triumph Books, it’s also a steal.