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Bowls, Polls, and Tattered Souls: Tackling the Chaos and Controversy that Reign Over College Football Hardcover – August 1, 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Review

"In a book dripping with sarcasm, Stewart Mandel plays tour guide on an interesting ride through the college football nuthouse."
—Bruce Feldman, author of Meat Market and senior writer for ESPN the Magazine

"Stewart Mandel writes about college football's major controversies with a wit and depth of knowledge that will impress even the most obsessed fans. And because he's both fair and objective, there is something in this book to infuriate nearly everyone."
—Warren St. John, author of the bestselling Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania

From the Inside Flap

"Why is college football the lone remaining sport on the planet without a playoff? And while we're at it, why the need for thirty-two bowl games? Why does the Big Ten have eleven teams? Why is it that a team like undefeated Boise State does not even get the chance to play for the national championship? And, oh yeah—tell me again why we don't have a playoff?"

Whether it's from his seat in the press box at games every Saturday or his seat at his computer reading the thousands of messages on his college football blog and sent to his "College Football Mailbag" each week, Sport Illustrated columnist Stewart Mandel has a unique perspective on college football. He votes in the AP poll. He's a member of the Heisman electorate. He knows how the ballots are cast and how the game is played—on and off the field.

In Bowls, Polls, and Tattered Souls, Mandel gives you in-depth insight into issues that frustrate and perplex even the most passionate fans. He examines the conspiracy theories behind everything from who gets the Heisman to major schools setting up their archrivals for NCAA investigation. He explores the influence of television and the "ESPN Factor" on the college football landscape. He recounts how fickle the college coaching world can be, with fans posting "For Sale" signs in a coach's yard after an embarrassing loss or posting rants on message boards. He addresses recent scandals at schools like Alabama, Colorado, and Ohio State. He probes common violations, from players having phony jobs or getting academic favors to players facing criminal charges or major recruiting abuses with big money involved. He examines the role and powers (or lack of them) of the NCAA. And he tackles the top issue in the game today: the BCS, exploring its evolution and whether there should be a playoff instead.

No matter what team you root for, Bowls, Polls, and Tattered Souls provides you with a virtual insider's playbook on the game today—an insightful, entertaining, and essential read.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (August 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470049170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470049174
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,563,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Julie Neal VINE VOICE on August 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thanks to my profession, I know about Mickey Mouse. But I never knew about all the Mickey Mouse shenanigans in college football until I read this book. For example, the author writes about how, in the 1960s, the Notre Dame publicity director changed the pronunciation of quarterback Joe Theismann's last name so that it rhymed with "Heisman" -- even though the family had always pronounced it "thees-man."

But there's much, much more. Mandel uses his behind-the-scenes access and years of experience to shed light on some of the most controversial, confusing and downright Goofy topics in the sport. Specifically:

* The Bowl Championship Series, and how it works -- or doesn't!
* The often arbitrary and unfair way voters rank teams in the polls
* How the Heisman Trophy winner is picked, and when the system first jumped the shark
* How FireRonZook.com changed how coaches are fired
* Why Notre Dame occupies its holier-than-thou spot above all other teams
* The influence of the Internet on college recruiting
* Why the Big Ten has 11 teams
* The plethora of post-season bowl games, and their weird and wacky names
* The unpredictability of the NFL draft
* Why one school's tawdry scandals catch the NCAA's notice, while others gets off scott free

I devoured every page. As a Florida State fan, my soul has been tattered many times in the past few years, but it wasn't that long ago that the bowls and polls just loved us (just ask Notre Dame). To sum up. I think any college football fan will love this book. Mandel's affection for the game is obvious, and his stories are consistently enlightening, entertaining and funny.
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Format: Hardcover
I thought I knew most of the politics, etc involved in bowls, polls, BCS, etc just by reading Stewart's column (among others)...but the book offers clear & detailed explanations on all subject matter covered, and made me realize I knew very little about college football's inner-workings & politics....geez, hard to believe there were so few bowl games just 11
yrs ago. Love the chapter on ND & how they became so popular - with the explanation stemming from their exploits 80+ years ago.
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Format: Hardcover
"(NFL) scouts are to football what the third base coach is to baseball - an excuse for a whole bunch of old-timers to stay a part of the fraternity and collect a paycheck to boot." - Stewart Mandel

There are two U.S. sport seasons: Football and No Football. As far as I'm concerned, it's even a finer point than that: College Football and No College Football. BOWLS, POLLS & TATTERED SOULS tells me more than I thought I wanted to know about the collegiate game. But, now that I've read this book by "Sports Illustrated" writer Stewart Mandel, I'm so very glad that I did. It's a completely absorbing volume that I devoured over two days. I wish it was longer.

Mandel examines ten of college pigskin's greatest ongoing controversies, one per chapter:

1. The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) - how we got to this impasse, who supports it and doesn't, and why it's not likely to change dramatically anytime soon.

2. The team ranking system - its evolution, politics, and how it's affected by the BCS.

3. The Heisman Trophy - its history, and why it's become a media exposure contest not necessarily based on playing ability.

4. The hiring and firing of coaches, particularly the latter - the growth of their salaries and the precariousness of their tenures (or "What have you done lately?").

5. Notre Dame - what makes this independent university so damn special that it has BCS equality with the Pac-10, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, ACC and Big East?

6. The recruiting of top high school players - the stand-alone spectacle it's become, and the impact of the Web.

7. The formation of, and school re-alignments with, conferences - it's all about money, particularly TV revenue $. (Say it ain't so, Joe!)

8.
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Format: Hardcover
In a profession that seems defined by 'shock-jocks', hype and opinions that pass as facts, Stewart has a made a name for himself by consistently providing well written analysis and perspective to college football fans through his weekly 'Mailbag' at si.com.

In Bowls/Polls, he takes on some of the more controversial and universal issues affecting the game. These are the issues that are discussed each and every week during the season but that lie beneath the surface of the game as it's played on the field. Stewart brings these issues to light - and few look better for his effort - in a way that is entertaining, educational and that, somehow, managed to enhance my appreciation and enjoyment of the game.

It's not your typical college football book - when was the last time you saw the word 'lavaliering' in print (as someone who worked full-time to get through school, it was a first for me and I still don't know how to pronounce it) - and that's why I recommend the book. It's a good read, on a great topic from an unusual perspective by a knowledgeable and writer.
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Format: Hardcover
Is there anything in sports that's more of a splendid mess than college football?

Let's count the ways. The participants in the national championship game are partially chosen by a computer, and those two teams are the only ones in the so-called "playoff." Meanwhile, practically anyone else who has a .500 record or better gets to play in a bowl game as well.

Then there's the Heisman Trophy, arguably the most prestigious individual award in American sports, which is determined by voters who haven't even seen some of the top contenders.

And we've gone from virtually no games being on television to every game being on television, at all hours of the day and all days of the week.

That doesn't include fans and alumni who spend most of their waking hours trying to get a coach fired, other fans who would be rich if they studied stock market trends like they study recruiting information, and programs that do everything possible to get an edge before the games even begin. Oh, and television networks are throwing millions at the colleges for rights, but the schools' athletic departments still lose millions each year.

Sounds like the start of a book. Stewart Mandel is the author of that book. It's called "Bowls, Polls & Tattered Souls," and it's a smart if slightly dry look at the favorite sport of millions of Americans.

Mandel, who writes for Sports Illustrated, makes a great point about college football right off the bat: No one is in charge. The NCAA has a role, of course, but the individual universities and their conferences have much of the power in the game. That's led to the lack of a true national champion, games in which officiating crews are negotiated beforehand, and Notre Dame having its own television network.
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