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Main | Book Review #2 Title: Curse of the Twisted Rose »
Wednesday
Dec042013

Book Review #1 Title: The System: The Glory and The Scandal of Big Time College Football

 

Opening comment by the webmaster. As you will see, I didn't write this review. Greg Smith is a friend that I worked with several years ago. We both left the company we were working for and went our separate ways. I'd always hoped to work with him again - never thought it would be this way. Hopefully this won't be his only review.

Author: Jeff Benedict, Armen Keteyian

Publisher: Doubleday

Copyright 2013

Cover art:

ISBN 978-0385536615

Email:

Synopsis:

College football has evolved in recent years into a massive sports franchise that rivals the National Football League for revenue.  The fan bases of big name schools flock to stadiums that hold 100,000 or more spectators and the programs generate millions for the schools.  Competition for the best athletes is fierce and often has drastic consequences.  The authors of this book spent two years behind the scenes with access to some of the biggest names and programs in all college sports.  The revelations from behind the scenes in the schools, programs, families and the media are very illustrative.  Whether a casual fan of college football or a die hard, this book hold your interest.

General Reaction and Comments:

The authors used their behind the scenes access to full advantage.  They capture not only the essence but also the grandeur and glory of the big games and the scandals that lead programs astray.  There is not a lot to surprise a true follower of college sports, most people are at least vaguely aware of the sort of drug and sex scandals that plague college sports.  However, there are also true stories of the trials and tribulations of families, individuals and examples of true personal growth to shed some light on the other aspects of the sport.  The discussions and descriptions from behind the set of ESPN Gameday were also very informative and help give a new perspective to the pageantry of Saturdays in the fall. 

What I liked?

I love the details and the behind the scenes look at major programs.  The authors conducted over 500 interviews and unbelieveable access to some of the biggest names in the sport.  This book lends an interesting perspective to the trials of the Athletic Director and Boards of Regents as they struggle through the tough decisions on how to respond to allegations and lawsuits.  This book has all the details, and the authors make the reader feel like they are participating in the interview or sitting in the office with the decision makers throughout the story.

What I didn't like …

There was nothing I did not like, but I would ove even more.  This book focuses on the recent history, basically from 2010 to 2013.  College sports has transformed over the last 20 years, and especially so since the advent of the BCS and of 24-hour sports programming like ESPN that enable everyone to become a weekend expert on the game.  There is a lot more money, interest and devotion to the game now than ever and this drives billions of dolars into college sports.  I would love to have had an exploration of the evolution from around 1979 or 1980 to now.

Surprises:

There were few real surprises for the most part.  However, the real surprises come from the behind the scenes revelations within each major program analyzed.  I was also surprised by the effort some coaches put into the development of character and moral fiber over field skills, which seems rare these days.

Quotable Quotes:

“Loss builds focus” – Nick Saban

Reader Recommendations:

If you are a casual fan of college football, this book will hold your interest and possibly even make you a die-hard fan.  If you are already a dyed in the wool, rabid fan of college football, this book is a must read.

Remember – you got it straight from The Horse’s Mouth.

About the Reviewer:

Greg Smith is a friend of the propriertor and a die-hard fan of Alabama Football.  He is a Senior Project Manager at a major airline based in Seattle, but prefers small shop coffee over the big green mermaid. 

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