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ESPN College Football Encyclopedia: The Complete History of the Game Hardcover – Unabridged, September 1, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael MacCambridge is the author of The Franchise: A History of Sports Illustrated and America’s Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation, and the editor of the bestselling ESPN SportsCentury. He lives with his wife and children in St. Louis, Missouri.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1632 pages
  • Publisher: ESPN (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401337031
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401337032
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 8.6 x 2.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #409,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael MacCambridge has written about movies, music and popular culture, but he is best known as one of the nation's foremost authorities on pro and college football.

His 2004 book 'America's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured A Nation' was published by Random House, and named by The Washington Post as one of the most distinguished works of non-fiction in 2004. The book also won the Nelson Ross Award given by the Professional Football Researchers Association, for outstanding achievement in pro football research and history. The paperback version was published by Anchor Vintage in 2005.

In 2012, he wrote 'Lamar Hunt: A Life in Sports,' the official biography of the American sportsman inducted in the pro football, international tennis and national soccer halls of fame.

His first book was 'The Franchise: A History of Sports Illustrated Magazine,' which was named as a New York Times Noteworthy Book, and described by the Boston Globe as "one of the great sports-book reads of all time." In 1999, he was the editor and a contributing writer for the New York Times bestseller 'ESPN SportsCentury,' a retrospective of sports in the 20th Century that included original essays by David Halberstam, Joyce Carol Oates, Roy Blount, Jr., Gerald Early, and others.

In 2005, MacCambridge edited the critically-acclaimed 'ESPN College Football Encyclopedia,' hailed by Sports Illustrated as "the Bible" of the sport.

In 2009, MacCambridge co-authored 'More Than A Game: The Glorious Present and Uncertain Future of the NFL,' with Brian Billick, the Super Bowl-winning former head coach of the Baltimore Raves. Also in 2009, MacCambridge was one of the contributing essayists to 'A New Literary History of America,' by Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors.

MacCambridge's freelance work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, GQ, and many other publications. From 1988-95, he was a columnist and critic at the Austin American-Statesman, writing about movies, music and popular culture. He earned a Master's degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1986. A year earlier, he received his B.A. from Creighton University in Omaha.

Since 1997, he has been an adjunct professor at Washington University in St. Louis, and performed a wide range of public speaking and editorial consulting work. The father of two children, Miles and Ella, he lives in St. Louis.

Customer Reviews

It's a great achievement written by college football fans for college football fans.
Leigh Fitzpatrick
It covers All-time scores, Heisman voting, program profiles, best players and coaches dating back to 1869 in some cases.
Dr. Joseph S. Maresca
The essays are interesting, and the brief summary information on each of the schools is very good.
Michael J. Glenn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Edward W. Trieste on October 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
At last, a well-organized comprehensive reference for college football history!

The heart of the book is the chapters for the 119 I-A programs and the annual reviews of every season.

Each school gets 3-6 pages of text, citing their best player, coach, and team, their biggest upset and heartbreak, their fight song, and more. Annual leaders, All-Americans, national titles, and game scores are included. The Ivies, Grambling and 18 other historically black schools are also covered, though less thoroughly.

The annual reviews include standings, bowls, All-Americans, the top 10 Heisman Trophy candidates, statistical leaders, and weekly polls.

Another section includes box scores of every certified bowl ever played, with pre- and post-game ranks of the teams and MVPs. There are also essays on the state of the game, coaches, recruiting, integration, college football at the movies, the polls, computer rankings, the eternal playoff debate, and more.

At 1630 (!) pages, this is probably the most complete reference on college football history ever published.

There is clearly room for improvement:

* Amazingly, there is no list of national champions anywhere in the book! This is particularly confusing for the pre-poll years. Navy's chapter claims a share of the 1926 title. Who did they share it with? I had to check elsewhere: Alabama and Stanford. Stanford's chapter, but not Alabama's, claims this title.

But even in the poll years, things are sometimes unclear. Notre Dame's chapter claims 21 titles (11 outright, 10 split), but lists only 8: those won in the two major polls. Stanford's chapter says 1926 was its only title, but then claims 1940.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Glenn on September 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is the best college information resource I have seen. It has always been difficult to find an ACCURATE source of college football scores; this comes closer to that goal than many others' previous attempts. The year by year poll information is particularly helpful. The essays are interesting, and the brief summary information on each of the schools is very good.

But I have found too many nitpicky errors to be entirely satisfied. One problem is the lack of "key" information, which makes deciphering a lot of information difficult. What does "RB" mean in the final polls? I THINK it refers to the R Billingsley poll, but the book is silent. I know some of the key information on Southern California's list of games is wrong--USC never played in Pendleton or Albany, Oregon, and the Key fails to explain that the neutral site reference to "FIE" means Fiesta Park in Los Angeles. And lots of neutral sites are not listed at all.

I have not "audited" the book to see if all the scores are accurate, but the amount of errors here and there causes concern. But, this is a must book for the serious college football researcher, with enough "prose" info to be of interest to the casual fan.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Craig VINE VOICE on September 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I'd really echo what the first reviewer wrote, that this is a valuable book hurt by some poor editing. And since this publication is meant to be a complete and authoritative source for college football, those mistakes detract from its overall value.

The capsule looks at each program are great. Not only can you look back at scores and performance from past years, but the leaders for each team are a useful resource. It's fun to look at certain schools, to see how their fortunes have risen and fallen over long periods of time. The historical polls are also enjoyable to look at, for much the same reason, seeing which teams have stuck around near the top for long periods of time, while others come and go.

The essays are also interesting, although I would have liked a few more of them. I don't think they need to give a comprehensive history of the college game (those already exist), but examining certain trends or particular eras/teams would have been a nice addition.

This book really does fill a niche for the sports fan, and even with some errors this book is well worth the price. However, I think that any great reference work should be completely authoritative, and that's where this one falls short. A great book, but one whose next edition should really be a 5-star effort.
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49 of 57 people found the following review helpful By R. L. Beegle on September 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I originally posted this review in 2005, and since then have added 2 additional paragraphs. I left what I had originally written unchanged as to paint a clear picture of my feelings towards this book and how they have changed.

This book has everything anyone could ever want about college football. For most schools, every score to every game they ever played in are listed, and the capsules (which run 2 1/2 to 4 pages) are excellent.

However this book is not without its problems, which become more numerous the more I read. First of all the conference standings section seems incomplete to me. After 1952 there are no standings for the Southern Conference which at that time was at least as powerful a conference as the Ivy league, who's standings are included. There are also no standings at all listed for the Missouri Valley conference, a conference that included Louisville, Cincinnati and Tulsa among other Division 1-A participants. There is also no explanation as to why some schools (such as Middle Tennessee State or UConn) only have their Division 1-A scores represented, while other schools who spent a significant ammount of time as a Division 1-AA (such as Marshall) have all of their scores, including the lower division games, included.

There also seems to be a lack of effort put into editing this book. One example is for Notre Dame's 1997 scores, it lists the Independence Bowl as a game at Hawaii. Another example is the 1954 conference standings, Virginia is listed as a member of the ACC and as an indpendent, with two different records.

The sheer amount of material makes this book worthwhile, but given these mistakes that I have noticed in four days of owning this book it is hard to value this wealth of information very highly.
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