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Meat Market: Inside the Smash-Mouth World of College Football Recruiting Hardcover – September 18, 2007

3.8 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A jaw-dropping book. Bruce Feldman is the John Feinstein of his generation. He has gotten inside and gained access to this complex subject better than any sportswriter in memory. Meat Market is easily among the best sports books of the new millennium. Not only was it engaging, it was at times hilarious and frightening, seeing what really happens in the bowels of recruiting. This is must-reading for any college football fan. I don't know when I have enjoyed a book more or been unable to put one down. This book absolutely blew me away." --Paul Finebaum, Mobile Register columnist and talk show host -- Paul Finebaum

"Bruce Feldman has recorded the most detailed account of a recruiting season I've read. You are taken behind the curtain of a program hungry to reach the elite and provided a revealing, fascinating look at one of college football's unique characters, Coach ÔOÕ." --Chris Fowler, ESPN College GameDay host -- Chris Fowler

"Coach Orgeron transfers his ferocious competitive spirit into all phases of his coaching, particularly as a recruiter. He's relentless in his effort and comprehensive approach to the whole recruiting process." --Pete Carroll, head coach, USC -- Pete Carroll

"Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football yet is the most mysterious, misunderstood aspect of the sport. Feldman opens doors and opens eyes in a revealing look at how the machine that drives college football really works. Playing the big boys on the field is one thing. For those outside the "traditional power" fraternity, Meat Market shows that recruiting against them is even tougher . . . even for a Red Bull powered recruiting maniac like Ed Orgeron." --Rece Davis, ESPN College Football studio host -- Rece Davis

"Tremendous behind-the-scenes look at the highs and lows of recruiting with extremely accurate portrayal of the day-to-day operation. This book captures what goes into the evaluation, scouting, tape study and on and off campus recruitment of some of the best players in the country. An unprecedented chance to get the true skinny on how high school and juco athletes end up on a college campus." --Jim Donnan, ESPN college football analyst and former Georgia head coach -- Jim Donnan

"We all knew Bruce Feldman could write. We all knew him to be a meticulous researcher. What we did not know until now is that he has the guts of an S.E.C. middle linebacker. On his next trip to Oxford he may take an Ed Orgeron headbutt for this canny and thorough page turner. This is the best I have seen on the real story of bigtime college recruiting. I loved reading this book!" --Bill Curry, former coach at Alabama, Georgia Tech and Kentucky -- Bill Curry

"What serious football fan wouldn't love to be a fly on the wall in the recruiting war room of a major college program? Feldman got to do just that, delivering a fascinating first-hand account of all the dizzying phone calls, late-night film sessions, frantic road trips, and paranoid parents that went into the Ole Miss coaching staff's pursuit of a recruiting class." --Stewart Mandel, Sports Illustrated -- Stewart Mandel

About the Author

Bruce Feldman is the author of Cane Mutiny: How the Miami Hurricanes Overturned the Football Establishment, which was ranked No. 1 among sports titles in the fall of 2004. A senior writer at ESPN The Magazine since its launch in 1998, Feldman writes a popular college football blog for ESPN.com. His articles on college football have appeared in several editions of The Best American Sports Writing, and he has won first-place awards in contests sponsored by the Football Writers Association. Feldman lives in California but on any given autumn Saturday can be found at one of the top college football games in the country.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: ESPN; 1st edition (September 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933060395
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933060392
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #719,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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