Was this ragtag band of precocious intellectuals the worst, or the most courageous, team in college football? From 1892 until the 1930s the legendary Monsters of the Midway dominated college football. However, in 1939 the University of Chicago dropped out of the Big Ten and killed its varsity football program.
But now, it's 1969 and football is back. The resurrection of Chicago football hasn't brought the Monsters back to life. The team plays more like the lab mice of the Midway. The new Maroons are called, "the worst team in college ball," by People Magazine.
But this under-sized and outnumbered team is also compared to the Trojan hero Hector courageously facing Achilles. They lose game after game. Yet, guys whose IQ is greater than their weight refuse to give up their mission to win one for their old coach, Wally Hass. Wally's goal is to win one more game before he retires which would make his 100th victory as a coach.
Sex, drugs, rock 'n roll, the Draft Lottery, the Anti-War Movement, and student rebellion on college campuses in the late 60s - the University of Chicago is swimming against the cultural tide by resurrecting its football program. Jack Blair is a small town Hoosier kid who just wanted to go to the best college in the Midwest. In Chicago Jack encounters characters as disparate as Muhammad Ali, Milton Friedman, and George Halas.
Jack joins the team for resume-building. His goal is to win the Rhodes scholarship and maybe a football game. Along with his teammates he is swept into the tumult of the late 1960s. He falls in love with a radical feminist who demonstrates against the return of football to Chicago. He rooms with a secular Jewish kid taking ballet whose father has begun manufacturing something called a computer chip.
Jack's teammates reflect the wackiness of the times. There is the 135 pound nose guard and the 295 pound Sumerian scholar. On the team bus the Maroons blast The Mothers of Invention on an 8-track, smoke pot, and worry about a friend's suicide attempt.
An assistant coach rides Jack for not fully committing to the team. His favorite professor chides him to concentrate on his studies. Jack comes of age in a bewildering cultural milieu of frats, jocks, hippies, and Marxist radicals. But his greatest challenge is whether he can learn to love and make an authentic commitment.
The book is inspired by the author's experience of playing on the resurrected University of Chicago Maroons a/k/a the Monsters of the Midway. Jeff Rasley is also the author of six other books: Bringing Progress to Paradise; Light in the Mountains; False Prophet, a Legal Thriller; Islands in my Dreams; India - Nepal Himalayas in the Moment; and Pilgrimage: Sturgis to Wounded Knee and Back Home Again, a Memoir.
©2012 Jeff Rasley (P)2013 Jeff Rasley
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