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Return to Glory: Inside Tyrone Willingham’s Amazing First Season at Notre Dame Paperback – September 30, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (September 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578067081
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578067084
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,935,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a plodding portrayal that is reverent to a fault, Grant, a writer for ESPN, chronicles the challenges and triumphs of Tyrone Willingham's first year at the helm of the nation's most storied college football team: the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Grant highlights the significance and pressure on Willingham as the school's first black coach in any sport, and he does provide the requisite behind-the-scenes glimpses of the program that are sure to pique the interest of any Irish fan. Indeed, one of the most engrossing incidents features Willingham derisively breaking down tape of his former team, Stanford, and clearly laying the blame at the feet of its new coach. But the writing itself is formulaic and dull. Aside from painful extended metaphors like describing Willingham and the team as a jazz combo, Grant occasionally strays from his otherwise distant, professional tone with awkward dips into slang that he seems to think sports talk demands. He refers to Touchdown Jesus, a mosaic on the university library, as having a "certain bling-bling"; he describes an opposing receiver as getting "truly Heisman on their asses"; and at one point he bizarrely refers to Willingham as "the most popular Negro in America." In addition, Grant is so adoring of Willingham that the coach hardly comes across as human. Grant played football for him at Stanford, and a first-person player's perspective would have been revealing. The book has enough details and anecdotes to keep a rabid Notre Dame fan turning pages, but it will hardly be of interest to a wider audience or leave much of a mark in the realm of sports literature.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The football team at Notre Dame, once among the best in the country, has had a rough couple of decades. After slipping lower and lower in the standings, the team was badly in need of a boost. Enter Tyrone Willingham, the school's first black football coach. Against heavy odds and the preconceptions of a lot of people, Willingham led the team to 10 victories in 2002 and an appearance in a major bowl game. If the Fighting Irish haven't quite been restored to their Rockne-era glory, they have certainly made remarkable strides in just one season. Written by a sportswriter and former footballer who played under Willingham in the late 1980s, this account follows the Irish through the 2002 season. The game-by-game reports are standard sports fare, but the portrait of Willingham is more memorable. Grant captures the excitement of college football through the lens of a man whose love of the game, whose sheer exuberance in the face of often-daunting odds, brought an entire team, if not an entire school, back to life. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Tour Pro on September 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
Alan Grant went to Stanford?

You'd think that a Stanford grad would be a little bit more literate than, "he got his drink on".

All through the book, I'm thinking, "Is Grant related to Willingham?"

If you really want to read the book, go to your library. If you actually buy it, you will feel like you've been on a date with a prostitute. Used and abused.

There's a reason that this book is rated below 2 millionth on Amazon! In fact, I think they only have a million books listed, this happens to be twice worst thann the best.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Couldn't put the book down. Can't wait for the book on year 2 "Return to Mediocrity".
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Kcussbuc on November 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The book, written by a Willingham disciple who I believe played for the coach at Stanford, characterizes Tyrone Willingham as a man who overcomes obstacles after meeting them head on. While the coach does have a great history behind him, it is just that. Mike Ditka once said that the past is for cowards and losers. He is right.

The man portrayed in this book is not the man in charge in South Bend in 2004. The true story to be told is one of a man who is in way over his head. Mr. Grant's portrayal of the coach forgets to include the coach's desire to foster the "cult of Willingham" which places devotion to the coach well over and above winning. He also forgets to mention the coach's stubborn arrogance, his unwillingness to fire those around him who fail to live up to expectations (aka Buzz Preston, Kent Baer and Bill Diedrick), his disdain for Notre Dame's pressure and his misunderstanding of the meaning of the word "excellence".

This supposed "no-nonsense" coach seems to believe that six wins is discernable progress after a five win season. What happened to this Return to Glory? It is more like "Welcome to Mediocrity".

Full of hyperbole and an undying devotion to his former coach, Mr. Grant chronicles Lionel Tyrone's first season with the Irish. He demonstrates that Tyrone Willingham may have had what it takes to bring a two bit program like Stanford to near-acceptability in a weak Pac-10, but the man is just not up to running a big-time program at an elite football school (if Notre Dame is still that after his tenure). He also accurately portrays how the coach and his staff plodded through an eight game winning streak with smoke, mirrors and dumb luck.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Baum on September 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
It's not only evident in this book, but in his follow-up articles on ESPN's website.

This author is a shame to his alma mater and to mankind.

As far as the book goes, it's rediculously a waste of time.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Freelancer on November 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is pure fiction by a former player of Tyrone Willingham's at Stanford. Grant falls way short in is half hearted attempt to understand anything about a winning football tradtion at a school that identifies its very existence around football. He is a hater and now is spewing lies about how Notre Dame is irrelvant on ESPN.com because his book is no longer selling. More like his book is irrelvant. This man has no integrity as a journalist.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The author does a good job of capturing the energy and excitement of the resurgence (real or imagined) of Notre Dame football under Ty Willingham. The author gives us a glimpse of the mysterious coach and leads us to believe that Notre Dame is back, which should make Notre Dame nation excited and optimistic about the future. On the negative side, the author plays the race issue way too much. Yes, it is historically significant that Notre Dame hired a black football coach, but the author needlessly hammers this point home at every opportunity. Indeed, the author seems more concerned with Willingham's skin color than Willingham does himself. Most Notre Dame fans don't care if the coach is black, white or purple, so long as he wins. Also, the author lapses too often into "street talk" or what he refers to as "black colloquialisms." He even refers to Touchdown Jesus as "blinging." Ironically, the use of such language actually promotes the very stereotypes the author apparently abhors. In all, a pleasurable read if you're a Notre Dame fan.
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