From Publishers Weekly
In college football's short season, a single game can make or break a team's fortunes. As the weeks rush by and put increasing pressure on the schools, fans and coaches tend to forget the contests are played by young men barely out of their teens. Curtis (The Men of March), who has done reporting for Fox Sports Net, takes advantage of amazing access to evenhandedly analyze the intense burdens on nine of the sport's biggest teams to maintain their positions. He examines the different routes taken toward the same goal by the various personnel involved in the process. Coaches, for example, don't just design plays; they dissect game films, deal with media and chat up recruits. Curtis tracks several perennial powerhouses, like Colorado State and Florida State, over the course of the 2003 season and also discusses Boston College, to illustrate a team out of the running. The mind-boggling formulas that go into computing the rankings often seem to defy logic and can lead readers to much head-scratching. Curtis looks past the numbers and focuses on the people who make up the game, from players and coaches to alumni and fans. Photos.
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Curtis, author of Men of March (2003), about college basketball coaches, now turns to football. During the 2003 season, he spent a week each at observing nine college football programs. He watched films with coaches, interviewed players, worked the locker rooms, and attended practices. Curtis' dominant theme is that the modern coach functions like the CEO of a corporation. The coach's work is public view, and if the stock doesn't pay dividends in the form of wins and bowl games, he is accountable. Sometimes the week Curtis spent at a school was the prelude to triumphs; other times, not. His stay at Wisconsin with coach Barry Alvarez culminates in a stunning upset of then top-ranked Ohio State, but his trip to Colorado State ends with the loss of a close game to archrival Colorado. Curtis doesn't offer much criticism--if anything, he comes to identify too closely with his subjects--but he does provide an appreciation for the preparation and emotional investment at the foundation of every college football game. Legions of fans will savor every word. Wes Lukowsky
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