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One Night, Two Teams: Alabama vs. USC and the Game That Changed a Nation Hardcover – August 20, 2007
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On September 12, 1970, the University of Southern California's integrated football team traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, and defeated the University of Alabama's all-white team, 4221. Travers, a USC grad, portrays the game and USC's victory as a tipping point in the integration of college football and the South, a triumph for the forces of equality. Garden-variety fans, however, may chalk the win up to USC's outstanding black running backs, Sam "Bam" Cunningham and Clarence Davis, or to the fact that the 1970 squad was one of Alabama's weakest teams in the Paul "Bear" Bryant era. Still, his larger view of the game hits home in most respects, and he provides a compelling accountdrawing from dozens of interviews with participants, coaches, and othersof a clash between two schools with decidedly different approaches to the composition of their football rosters. Soon after the 1970 season, Travers notes, Bryant began effectively recruiting black players, and Alabama was once again a football power. All in all, an intriguing premise and a well-told story. Lukowsky, Wes
…a compelling account…and a well-told story. (Wes Lukowsky Booklist, September 1, 2007)
Steve Travers is a Renaissance man.
Steve Travers is a great writer, an educated athlete who knows how to get inside the player's heads, and when that happens, greatness occurs. He's gonna be a superstar. (Dave Burgin San Francisco Examiner)
Top customer reviews
I'm very much a Trojan enthusiast & I tend to check out most things Trojan. That said, I wish I had avoided this train wreck on Twitter & I'll stand by that claim here. The author is constantly promoting his religious & political agenda throughout the book & I found myself getting frustrated as I tried to avoid these sections & remain focused on the USC portion of the text. You know, the reason I originally bought the book. I found myself constantly running into these sections & eventually stopped reading the book altogether. I got 86% of the way through this book & quit because I couldn't take it anymore. I flat gave up.
There are far better sources for the history surrounding this game & much of the author's narrative focuses on quotes that may or may not have even been said. In other words, when the author wasn't promoting a political or religious agenda, he was writing about conjecture. Save yourself the headache & pick up another book or just turn to the Internet.
One plus I will give this book is the fact that it does include many cool stories about Coach McKay. That would be the only thing that kept me from quitting at 20%.
I read a Kindle Copy.
The USC stuff was great – since I was witness to the 70’s teams it was great fun going down the anecdotal memory lane with many “I didn’t know that” or “so that’s what happened” moments. I got the sense, however, that it was all an all too enthusiastic and positive a representation of Troy, Anthony Davis and Tody Smith comments notwithstanding. John McKay was a saint in this book (Saints aren’t perfect). I had a friend who told me as Pre Med and on Scholarship under McKay he was told by Goux “I don’t care if you become Albert Schweitzer, you better be at practice”. At least Marv knew who Schweitzer was…
The book was a difficult read when references to Philosophy, ancient Greek and Roman history, in long digressions, were used to make a point. These seemed extraneous to the topic at hand.
The book was helpful for me as it reinforced the notion that although the Civil Rights Act became law in ’64 the enforcement was weak and uneven. Using College Football as one example was a good starting point.
I thought interspersing the body of the book with Interviews was an interesting approach but it resulted in a great deal of redundancy, often with identical phrases being repeated as the end of the book approached. This caused me to lose interest three quarters of the way through. Those interviews could have been edited, with salient points brought into a main theme using those personalities, as I’ve seen David Halberstam of Michael Lewis do. It is also a good deal more difficult if you do it their way.
Did The Bear say it or not? By the end of he book, I didn’t care, which may have been the goal. Did this game move the Alabama team forward in a pragmatic or altruistic manner? Travers moves the narrative back and forth and it results in the predictable “both”.
The Orange Countification chapter gives a good deal of well known history but the author overuses the term (his exclusively, from what I read).
Some have complained about the overt religiosity that begins the book and is sprinkled throughout. I didn’t find that as offensive as some. Travers does point out that many of the athletes found this a stabilizing force for the Team. If that’s what they told him then it’s relevant and should be stated so.
Finally, there were times in the book where there were gross and obvious factual errors that took away from any full appreciation of the whole product. Rafer Johnson was from KingsBERG not KingSTON California. No, George Jackson did NOT shoot Judge Haley, his brother did.
I vacillate between two and three stars because of the USC stuff but it was too long and meandering with at least two gross factual errors.
could meet the authors own political views.
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When the author sticks to the game, and the people involved with it, it's worth reading.Read more