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On Rocky Top: A Front-Row Seat to the End of an Era Hardcover – August 18, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; First Edition edition (August 18, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061719269
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061719264
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,089,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Clay Travis’s On Rocky Top is the best book on college football I’ve read in a generation. A truly masterful look at the passion, intensity and--quite often--insanity of America’s unofficial national pastime. If you love college football, you’ll love this book.” (Jeff Pearlman, New York Times bestselling author of Boys Will Be Boys and The Bad Guys Won!)

“On Rocky Top combines the fan’s passion of Fever Pitch with the inside access of A Season on the Brink. The result is a compelling portrait of one of the SEC’s premier football programs—and one of college football’s most beloved coaches. A must-read for every sports fan.” (Warren St. John, nationally bestselling author of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer and Refugees United)

From the Back Cover

There is no college football team more zealous and competitive than the University of Tennessee Volunteers

When Clay Travis, acclaimed author of Dixieland Delight, decided to spend the 2008 season up close and personal with UT football, he—and every other college football aficionado—thought he was in for a rollicking ride with one of the leading contenders for the national title. After all, when the Vols kicked off the season on September 1, the defending SEC East champions were ranked 18th in the country. As head coach Phillip Fulmer prepared for the game, he reflected upon a coaching career that included an astounding 147 victories, two SEC championships, and a national title. With 34 years at UT under his belt as both a player and coach, the Tennessee native had just signed a contract extension that projected to keep him at the university long enough to become the winningest coach in program history.

But when the Volunteers lost their season opener and the losses continued to mount, it became clear that 2008 was going to be a season on the brink for UT football. By December, the team had suffered its second-worst season ever, and Fulmer, the most beloved and recognized man in Tennessee, had been fired.

Based on exclusive interviews with Fulmer, UT athletic director Mike Hamilton, university boosters, team personnel, players and their families, and fans, On Rocky Top recounts in vivid detail how a season of promise tragically ended an era of college football. Enlivening the narrative is a diverse cast of supporting characters, including 65-year-old "Good Time" Charlie Harris, who has driven the UT big rig for almost 10 years; star running back Arian Foster, a fifth-year senior striving to become the all-time leading rusher in Volunteer history; and multimillionaire booster John "Thunder" Thornton, who defended Fulmer till the end.

A lifelong Volunteer fan whose grandfather played for the team during the 1930s, Travis reports from the locker room to the sideline, and has created a fascinating and loving chronicle of an impassioned state, a celebrated football culture, a beloved coach, and the sensational collapse of a once-mighty juggernaut.


More About the Author

Clay Travis is a writer for FanHouse.com. He's previously written the ClayNation column for CBSSports.com and been an associate editor at the sports blog Deadspin.com. A graduate of George Washington and Vanderbilt Law School, he lives in Nashville with his wife and son. He believes his beard makes all women weak in the knees.

Customer Reviews

Bought this as a gift for my husband -- he LOVED it!!
Amazon Customer
Yet, despite such access, Mr. Travis was able to maintain an objective view of the events as they unfolded.
J. Norris
If you're an SEC football fan or a college football fan, this is essential reading.
Michael Hickerson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael Hickerson VINE VOICE on September 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The 2008 football campaign is one that most University of Tennessee fans are eager to put behind them and forget about. It started off with great promise, only to see it all coming crashing down in a manner of weeks, leading to a free fall that saw the Vols drop from defending SEC East champs to the termination of long-time coach Phillip Fulmer.

When writer Clay Thomas agreed to write a book chronicling the season of the 2008 UT Volunteers football season, he had visions of a trip to Atlanta for the SEC title game and possibly the chance to celebrate the 10th anniversay for the 1998 national title by competiting for another one. Instead, what he got was the story of a season in turmoil and a program at a crossroads. And all of that is chronicled in his new book, "On Rocky Top: A Front-Row Seat to the End of an Era."

Thomas' chronicle of the 2008 season from a fan turned journalist perspective is a fascinating one. It may be hard for a lot of UT fans (myself included) to relive the horror that was last year. Thomas has some fascinating insights in the book, including one that stated he felt more comfortable in the stands, pulling for the team than he did on the sidelines watching as things unfolded. He also examines some of the aspects of the passionate fans--both himself and others--wondering if they know how the players view the games they play each Saturday and the impact what they say and how they act have on the players. Thomas talks to Arian Foster and his family at several points in the unfolding narrative, looking at how Foster entered the season with the chance to become the leading rusher in UT history and ended the season as a goat of sorts and possibly having his chances for an NFL career go up in flames.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Chris Shaw on August 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
... And I'm not a Tennessee fan. Clay's stories are a lifelong fan's dream come true, during a season that represents a fan's worst nightmare. Definitely recommend.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Landreth on August 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Clay does a wonderful job of capturing a lot of the behind the scenes action that every fan wishes they were in on..
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Douglas C. Childers on August 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Authored by an admitted, obsessed Tennessee Volunteer football fan, "On Rocky Top" offers readers a behind-the-scenes look at the 2008 UT football season. While the first half of the book flew by as I appreciated Travis' accounts of each game while he detailed the impending firestorm encircling head coach Phillip Fulmer with each loss; the last half of the book was too introspective.

We get it, you are obsessed with football and you live and die with your team. We also understand that you have matured since "Dixieland Delight" was published now that you have a son. Please stop hitting us over the head with it. Too many of the same stories and themes popped up throughout the book. For example, Travis points out at least twice that his grandfather told him to never cry over a football game after UT loss to Alabama in 1992. Furthermore, the theme of fans taking it more serious than the players was touched on so many times that by the end of the book, it felt like pure filler.

That being said, this book is a must read for any college football fan, especially if their allegiance is a team within the Southeastern Conference. Travis does point out how the SEC has grown from a regional attraction into a national phenomenon and how this has changed the SEC. His portrayal of Fulmer as on old relic from a time when SEC schools were coached by former players of the school and not the likes of "mercenaries" such as Nick Saban and Urban Meyer effectively drives this point home. The reader is able to witness the evolution of the SEC and the "win now" attitude of the fan base and administration through the dismissal of Fulmer towards the end of the season. When Travis touched on these points, the book was great.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gustav A. Blomquist on August 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
On Rocky Top is an all access look at University of Tennessee football that takes you behind the scenes and makes you feel like a part of the team. Clay writes about everything we've always wanted to know and everything we've always wondered. If you're curious about what it is really like in the locker room, what Coach Fulmer thought about last year, or what the players are really like, you should definitely pick up a copy. I can't imagine any football fan not loving his account of the inner workings of SEC football.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alan S. Bean on August 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Clay Travis perfectly captures the pageantry, loyalty, and oftentimes the downright obsession that is college football in the South. Mr. Travis chronicles the odyssey of the team he has worshipped since childhood through one of the most trying years in its storied football tradition, yet does so with an entertaining mix of humor and self-deprecating insights. The book is an absolute must for fans that long to be injected into their favorite team's locker room, famous pregame tradition, and even the equipment truck depended upon for road games.

"On Rocky Top" provides much more than that riveting first person perspective on the inner-workings of a big-time college football program, however. The book is a statement on the transition of college football from sport to big business, and it forces the reader to re-examine very personal relationships with the teams they live and die with each fall. I highly recommend this book.
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