The System: The Glory And Scandal Of Big Time College Football Book Review

  [caption id="attachment_9009" align="alignright" width="259"]the system - college football - review - book The System covers college football from rape to boosters and everything in between,[/caption] The System came to my knowledge while reading the MMQB on Sports Illustrated by Peter King.  From the moment I read the brief description I knew this book was going to be purchased and that I would gobble it up in days not months like some books.  I could not have been more correct about my assumption.  At one point I tweeted that I could not stop reading the book and would not have if driving and working didn't get in the way.  I could be found eating my dinner with one hand and flipping the pages on the Kindle app on my iPhone with the other.  This book was that good. What makes The System so good?  It boils down to one simple thing.  This is not a sugar coat and apologize for the sport of college football.  There are plenty of people who will question why college sports, in particular football, get so much attention and have budgets that are skewed and this book answers those questions.  College football helps drive revenue that funds all sorts of different departments and teams at institutions of higher education.  In America we are consumed with all things football and it is not just professional football, and in Texas it doesn't even end at the college level but goes as far back as middle school.  It seems out of control but in the grand scheme of things football unites a community even more than people think. Under these assumptions I dove into the book and was not disappointed.  The book, written by Armen Keteyian and Jeff Benedict, takes you from the process of Mike Leach getting fired at Texas Tech to his hiring at Washington State University.  It cover the process of The Process, better known as the way the University of Alabama and Nick Saban run their football program. When the authors delve into the dollars of college footballs the numbers are astronomical and seem as if they should be discussing the lottery winnings as opposed to the cost of updating a stadium.  For example, the cost of refurbishing the stadium in Pullman, WA (you read that right Pullman, WA) was $65 Million (you read that right too.)  Why?  In order to lure top high school prospects and field a competitive team in the Pac-12 the AD made a decision that updated facilities along with a top notch coach (Mike Leach) would bring in the top recruits. Now, the book is not all unicorns and rainbows about college football.  The authors approach the topic of off the field incidents like professionals and do not sweep it under the rug.  There are chapters devoted to football players at BYU and rape.  How the story evolves and how it is told is gripping.  How the coach and the faculty at BYU deal with these issues and how that leads to the hiring of Bronco Mendenhall as their head coach.  There are pages dedicated to Nick Saban dealing with athletes who are found to have been participating in criminal acts. One might believe that the coaches, ADs and other faculty members turn a blind eye to this type of thing and while that may be true, at the institutions covered by these authors that is certainly not the case. Ever hear of Ezekiel (not the bread) Ansah?  Neither did I before the NFL Draft of 2013.  During that draft we heard little bits and pieces of his life but the books tells how he went from Ghana to being drafted by the Detroit Lions.  His story is not a straight line and has plenty of turns in it, one of which is he did not become a full-time college football player at BYU until his final year.  He also happened to room with a linebacker by the name of Kyle Van Noy who went from a kid that broke a promise to the head coach to making the decision to stay at BYU despite the fact that he could have left and made millions of dollars by being drafted early. If you are a fan of college football or even just a person interested in reading real stories about how decisions are made that go beyond sports then The System is a book for you to purchase.  There may be surprises in this book as you read it but it does more than shock you.  The book opens up your eyes to the BUSINESS that is college football and it certainly goes past the tailgating and Bowl Championship Series (although those negotiations between the BCS and ESPN are covered in this book too.)
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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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