AN EXPLOSIVE AND REVELATORY PORTRAIT REPORTED FROM DEEP BEHIND THE SCENES OF BIG-TIME NCAA COLLEGE FOOTBALL: THE PASSION, THE THRILLING ACTION—AND THE SHOCKING REALITIES THAT LIE BENEATH THIS COLOSSAL, MULTIBILLION-DOLLAR BUSINESS
College football has never been more popular - or more chaotic. Millions fill 100,000-seat stadiums every Saturday; tens of millions more watch on television every weekend. The 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama had a viewership of 26.4 million people, second only to the Super Bowl. Billions of dollars from television deals now flow into the game; the average budget for a top-ten team is $80 million; top coaches make more than $3 million a year; the highest paid, more than $5 million.
But behind this glittering success are darker truths: “athlete-students” working essentially full-time jobs with no share in the oceans of money; players who often don’t graduate and end their careers with broken bodies; “janitors” who clean up player misconduct; football “hostesses” willing to do whatever it takes to land a top recruit; seven-figure black box recruiting slush funds. And this: Despite the millions of dollars pouring into the game, 90 percent of major athletic departments still lose money. Yet schools remain caught up in an ever-escalating “arms race” - at the expense of academic scholarships, facilities and faculty.
Celebrated investigative journalists Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian were granted unprecedented access during the 2012 season to programs at the highest levels across the country at a time of convulsive change in college football. Through dogged reporting, they explored every nook and cranny of this high-powered machine, and reveal how it operates from the inside out. The result: the system through the eyes of athletic directors and coaches, high-flying boosters and high-profile TV stars, five-star recruits and tireless NCAA investigators and the kids on whom the whole vast enterprise depends.
Both a celebration of the power and pageantry of NCAA football and a groundbreaking, thought-provoking critique of its excesses, The System is the definitive book on the college game.
©2013 Jeff Benedict, Armen Keteyian (P)2013 Random House
I'm not completely done with the book, but since it has no reviews and I'm 75% through it in only 2 days and with each chapter standing on it's own, I think I can give a fair review. This book is great, For college football fans, all the characters, programs and games will be familiar, but the insight and the step by step, blow by blow behind the scenes reporting will have you engrossed. Each chapter stands on its own and generally follows a character giving you their perspective as it relates to college football. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on Mike Leach. The narration is overall solid, its doesn't add or take away. Each chapter is about 30-45 minutes.
IT Manager and life long learner
An eye opening look at the spectacle that is college football from insiders with front row seats. The utter greed of coaching staffs and supporters willing to game the system through money and sex as much as possible to gain an unfair advantage show a flawed system. The book has some stories of hope though with coaching staffs dedicated to bucking the trend and dedicated to striving for a higher purpose. Certainly will never watch the gams again with the same perspective after this page turned for sure.
Reader, Writer, Musicmkr, Dad
If you have any interest in college football, you should read "The System," a spectacular and sobering look at College Football, as a Sport and a Huge Multi-Billion$ Business, that:
Explores each of more than a dozen hot and/or intriguing topics in college football;
By way of an illustrative story to humanize it, much like the Michael Lewis method;
Written by respected and gritty reporters who were granted a year of behind-scenes access and ability to interview coaches, ADs, athletes, academic administration, boosters, students, prosecutors, NCAA; and, who
Crafted an astounding collage of The System to give the reader both good and bad, so you can form your own opinions, conclusions and, if nothing else, see the sport in a different light.
I highly recommend it.
I never attended a power football school. I am not a great college football fan. Still I enjoyed this book. If you want to know of the problems facing all big time programs this is the book. If you want to know about the role of money and recruiting abuses this is your book. If you want facts demonstrating the hubris and complicity of the NCAA is the sport than this is your book. You can see the role of money in the sport that leads to both good and bad outcomes. Football success not only pays for other sports but it leads to increased alumni donations and greater student enrollments. But the NCAA is also about its money. It's about March Madness and selling game rights. As much as it is claimed the NCAA is run by its member colleges it's all about its money. You want examples? Read the book. Want to know the secret of a successful college football program? The coach. The coach then recruits players. To recruit players you need to invest in facilities. To make money you have to invest money but only about 20% of Division I schools are in the black.
Want to see scandals enumerated? They go through the usual recruiting violations, sex and academic scandals. How to avoid these scandals is also delineated. But it also shows how football is also the way out of the cycle of failure for many students. Even as urban recruits have gang associations and youth criminal records that they then bring with them as recruits to college campuses that adds the risk of crime and scandal to these programs there are many for whom academic scholarships are the way out of the cycle of poverty. College athletics are big business and Division I college football is huge business. This book dissects this business and does so without being boring, or peachy,
I will admit that the book was both interesting and at times educational, even for someone who considers himself fairly well versed in both the sport and the culture/business surrounding it. That being said, the book meanders quite a bit and seems to be missing a basic thesis or purpose. It's neither an expose nor a simple journalistic piece and as a result, it's not clear what the author's goal with the work as a whole is. A better recommendation may be The Atlantic's "The Shame of College Sports" by Taylor Branch.
Yes, i would listen to The System again. It was very interesting and I might pick up more the second time.
the stories about some of the well-known coaches.
Yes. It was very spell binding most of the time. I couldn't wait for the next chapter.
Anyone interested in college football or college sports is going to like this book.
Would definitely refer this book to any parent or young male athlete going through the recruitment process for college. I myself was recruited and landed a scholarship with a division 1 school so I know firsthand now what I wish this book would have warned me about had it been out before I went on into the experience. Please parents and kids read.
The details of each investigation and the inside info that was presented.
Vibrant very fitting for this book. Did a great job.
Mostly I was shocked how much info they knew and contacts they had there was info reported that only people doing some heavy investigation would find. You can tell a lot of work was put into this book. I recommend it to all parents and students aspiring to be collegiate athletes!
If you are a college football fan, you will like this book. A little heavy on some stats, but I like that type of information. Easy informative listen. I wanted more.
Some behind the scenes information on recuiting.
Easy to listen to.
Did you know?
Just my .02."
As a huge college football fan (Roll Tide!), I enjoyed the book as a whole, but it just wasn't quite what I needed it to be.
By that, I mean that at times it was boring, to the point I forwarded it a few minutes to get on to something interesting. A LOT of time is spent on one coach in particular, and it's my opinion that there are plenty of other programs and stories out there to be told without focusing so much on one area.
Overall, there is a lot of good information here. The authors are very careful to cite their sources at the end of the book, so I fully believe the book's authenticity.
Somebody's Getting Paid!
Recruitment of Kyle Van Noy and the "walk-on" Ziggy Ansah.
There seems to be a lot of connections to BYU and more than its share of the chapters. It actually seems to paint them as the only team out there with a honest program. Some of the information about College Coaches doesn't surprise me, but the amounts of money they are talking about for football vs the rest of the University is unbelievable. Its no wonder the students want to get paid!
I really liked the way each chapter looks at a different aspect of the system. It was very well written and included lots of great behind the scenes stories about Kevin Leach situation at Texas Tech and Saban's decision to coach at Alabama.
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