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on November 26, 2008
I have always been intrigued by Mississippi football and the whole Rebel mystique. That might sound strange coming from a Midwest kid, but growing up watching Archie Manning was special indeed. However, much like those Mississippi teams from the 70's this book didn't win the big one.

Meat Market caught my eye while browsing for a weekend read and though it was interesting, truth be told it wasn't all that earth shattering.The story line had a great deal of potential and you couldn't ask for a more colorful character than Coach O. Yet despite these seemingly great beginnings the book fell short in so many areas. Perhaps my disappointment was the author never quite developed a relationship between the characters and me, the reader. I wanted to like them and I wanted then to succeed but in the end It really did not matter one way or the other. Like many of the other reviewers I question how some people can call Meat Market a classic.

I was also somewhat surprised that Feldman omitted or barely scratched the surface on a topic like racism. Here was a wonderful opportunity to explain and educate his audience on the University Gray and people like Chuckie Mullins. So in my humble opinion he missed out.

On the plus side, and yes there are positives, the book was informative about the life and times of college recruiting. Feldman was successful in pointing out the mindset of high school superstars and the games people play to secure their services. A coach or recruiter of any type can find value in the material presented and the casual fan can get a glimpse of the inside of a "War Room".
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on December 28, 2007
I question whether any of the other reviewers have actually read this book. It is as though Feldman took his notes from trailing Orgeron and his staff and had them transcribed into book form them without adding any real insight or conclusions.

I went to school at Ole Miss and am a fan of Ole Miss football, as well as SEC football in general. While this book enumerates the minutiae of Ole Miss recruiting in excruciating detail (wanna know how many Red Bulls Coach Orgeron drinks per day?), it offers no real insight into SEC recruiting, or college football on a larger scale. In one funny anecdote that does stand out, University of Florida Coach Urban Meyer tells a top QB recruit that Tim Tebow (this year's Heisman Trophy winner) is coming to Florida to "be a linebacker", but that is one of the few memorable passages.

The sad truth is, this book appears to be nothing more than a shameless attempt to ride the coattails of Michael Lewis excellent book, "The Blind Side." Lewis followed the progress of left tackle Michael Oher from inner-city Memphis to his eventual enrollment at Ole Miss, offering illuminating and hysterical profiles of Orgeron, Nick Saban, Philip Fullmer, and others in the process. I learned far more from "The Blind Side" than "Meat Market", and if you are looking to learn about recruiting in college football, it would be a better place to start.
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on February 23, 2008
The events in the book chronicle the 2007 University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) recruiting season and focus on head coach Ed Orgeron. It sounds great in theory - to be a fly on the wall at a college football program. And after reading Michael Lewis's fascinating The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game about Ole Miss recruit Michael Oher, "Meat Market" sounded like a perfect behind-the-scenes companion guide. But unfortunately, there's not much variation or substance to this book.

There's certainly no shortage of unrecognizable recruit names and their esoteric statistics. And this feels more like padding than real content.

Further, nearly every single recruit in the book is portrayed the exact same way - their behavior is erratic and immature. The most highly touted recruit in the 2007 class - Joe McKnight - seems on the verge of signing with Ole Miss. But, he disappears the night before signing day... and commits to USC. And another running back, after initially committing to Ole Miss, turns around and signs with rival Mississippi, saying it was because they gave him the number 2 for his jersey. What's also redundant is the sheer number of players that have academic and behavior problems.

If there's a positive to "Meat Market," it's how the football coaching profession is totally un-glamorized. I now appreciate just how hard these guys work - how much research goes into recruiting and how hard you have to pursue a recruit. Ole Miss never does anything shady, but you get the feeling that lots of underhanded tactics come into play when you're in this profession. And you know it's a thankless job, because Orgeron was actually fired in the season that takes place after the events of this book.

Overall, "Meat Market" is decent, but I preferred "The Blind Side."
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on August 22, 2011
A must read for any football recruiting junkie. This book goes behind the scenes into college coaches War Rooms. Recruiting is the life blood of any successful program, and this book shows what it takes to be competitive on the recruiting trail in the hardest conference in the land, the SEC.
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on December 4, 2007
Ironically, I picked up this book from the library the day Ole Miss announced that Ogeron had been fired. So, you can ignore the part of the book where he talks about 2007 being the year they would get a bowl bid.
In fact, Coach O's brilliance instead of getting Ole Miss a bowl bid got them 0-8 in SEC conference play, but I digress.

Since the author had unlimited access to the recruiting process, the book is nothing if not interesting and revealing about the real world of college football recruiting, and I think it will be a good read for a college football fan ( though probably not an Ole Miss fan since it is a reminder of their dismal situation caused by Ogeron ). The downside of the book for me was the constant repeating of the same story, ie the lenghts they were going to to recruit some player. The book could have used a lot more substance.
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on June 11, 2009
As a casual sports fan I thought this book would provide some insight into the world of big time college football recruiting. Instead I was subject to page after page of mind numbing details about watching game film, making phone calls and moving players names around a board. This book could have lost 90% of the 320 pages and still have been too long.
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on July 9, 2015
I thought it a good idea to combine two of my biggest hobbies, college football and reading. The results, were disappointing. First off, this isn't a review of Ed Orgeron the coach or recruiter, just this book about those things. Author, Bruce Feldman, who've I've read articles from in the past, pens the "inside" look at recruiting in the SEC. Sadly, its inside only one program and the "inside looks" aren't much more than what can be gleaned from a recruiting website. There were a few "heard it here first" anecdotes but overall it was lacking any kind of newness. It was also terribly repetitive. There were a lot of individuals in the book but Feldman spent a ton of time reintroducing them that it became tedious to read. Also, it might have been better served to go more in-depth with the focus on Orgeron's tenure as opposed to one based solely on recruiting given than the lack of true insight. Overall, the book was boring and didn't feel like anything more an elongated magazine article.
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on December 30, 2007
A friend from high school recommended this book even though I am an Alabama fan, and I really got into it. It really opened my eyes to how the recruiting process works. The access that Feldman provides is incredible--one can hear about how the coaches bicker and lobby for their own recruits and you hear about what turns them off and turns them on. The book shows you what a bizarre process this all can be.

Through it all, you have an amazing central figure in the book in Orgeron, truly a flawed character battling alcoholism and also clearly dealing with rage issues. He comes across as both a tireless worker who is a lot smarter than people give him credit for, but he also comes across as a guy you wouldn't want to work for. The other thing that really draws you into this book is when you meet some of these recruits and you find out how heart-breaking their personal stories are. It's amazing to hear about all of the tragedy that they've had to overcome.
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on January 31, 2011
This book takes you into the heart of SEC Recruiting. It was a good read if you want to see and know how big time football programs recruit athletes. It was great to see how Orgeron tried to create his type of program from day-one on the job. If you are looking for the dirt on SEC recruiting, including oversigning, this book touches the surface on it, but never really goes into depth on any items that may be seen as infractions with the NCAA. The information on recruiting services (including online services) was a good part of the book. Overall, decent read if you like college football or are interested in recruiting just a little bit more.
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on January 7, 2008
Excellent book on the behind the scenes story of a football recruiting season at Ole Miss, from the school's perspective. The book was well-written and really kept my interest.

This book would not have been possible without the unprecedented access coach O and the school administration granted to the author. (i doubt a higher profile program would have granted this access)

Highly recommended.
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