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 teach history at a community college and thus enjoy historical non-fiction. I also enjoy a good mystery novel from time to time.
The authors went out of their way to put together a true look at college football; from tutors working with athletes, janitors, athletic directors, coaches, boosters, and the players themselves. I've been a lifelong football fan and so I am familiar with some of the scandals that are mentioned but they fill in the gaps left in the media coverage. The narrator does a wonderful job and the book never feels tedious. I find myself sometimes staying in my car longer so that I can finish a chapter before I go inside work or home. Not many audio books can get me to do that.
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'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.
I really enjoyed the book and all the different angles discussed. I now look at college football differently because of it. If you want to keep an idyllic view of college football, steer clear.
My brother in law was the sports information director for the University of Utah for 30 years.
I found this book to go along with many of the things he would say about the football team and coaches he has known. This is a great read and not all of it is negative towards collage football. I felt Jeff was very even handed with the collage teams.
If you enjoy collage sports this book is for you.
A little hard to follow sometimes because he jumps around between stories. All very interesting stories and full of details. However the time shown for the length of the read is very misleading. half of the chapters are explaining where they got their facts from and not actual story plot.
I am a life long learner who likes to think differently.
It is in the top 10%.
Mike Leach is a great character and they do a good job tying him in throughout.
yes, but impossible bc of 17 hours of content.
Absolutely, excellent journalism. Well cited. Both interesting and objective.
Think NY Times journalism with a Malcolm Gladwell tone. You can't often find books having to do with football that are not focused on inspiring or condemning. It has a fair and in depth look for something I knew little about.
I thought everything with Mike Leech as very solid.
Yes, it provides an intimate look at many sides of college football. It hits on the highlights and lowlights, while striving to explain college football as objectively as possible.
His voice is strong and he brings a sort of energy to a high-energy and high-emotion topic.
no...it's too long.
I thought this book was going to delve into and highlight more scandal than anything, but that was not the case. It did discuss scandals, and went in depth, but that was not the overall focus of the book. This book wants the reader to understand the big picture of what goes into college football, and acknowledges that scandals of all sort (recruiting, sexual, criminal, coaching abuses, boosters, ect...) are a part of that. It does not try and fix this or offer ways of avoiding these issues, but rather accepts it as the dirty underbelly of a business that creates a silly amount of money. The authors also highlight the positives stories with regard to players coming from nowhere and discusses how many coaches are looking out for the best interests of the players in many occasions (although not all). The book is presented in such a fashion as to keep the reader (listener) interested.
I'm a Field Service Engineer that travels a lot.
The saddest part of the book was how the actions of some players affected other college students. Innocent or not, many of the girls in this story walk away with a lifetime of negative consequences.
Interesting, exciting, inspirational and somewhat depressing in places. Everything was well explained and the author and narrator really sell the excitement and appeal of college athletics. I enjoyed it a lot.
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