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Publisher's Summary

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Gripping Inside Look at an Industry to Itself

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Lee
  • Texas
  • 09-17-14

Excellent!

What did you like best about this story?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great Insight!!

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Roo
  • Whitestone, NY United States
  • 04-14-17

The whole story

An even account of the glory: what makes FBS CFB great and compelling....and the scandal that makes it and the book juicy. You should love college ball to enjoy this book.

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Interested on college athletics

Great resource with real stories of college athletics for anyone interested in this field. Worth the read.

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mike c

great insight into college football. highly recommend for any football fan or person intrigued by collegiate sports.

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lots of stories about football

while this book has a lot of good stories about football, it doesn't seem to have a cohesive thesis. It's mostly a book of lots of strung together stories that let you draw your own conclusions about guilt and innocence. If you like football it's a fun read, but if you're looking for more of a analysis or expose this is not it.

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some programs disturbing, others commendable

What made the experience of listening to The System the most enjoyable?

I was impressed with the level of research done to back up the conclusions drawn and found some programs such as BYU and their support structures impressive, and others downright deplorable, Tennessee etc. Coaches seem to be either tyrannical dictators, Mike Leach, no thanks... not for me or my boys, while others seem to be truly invested in the athletes and or institution, Saban at Alabama, Bronco now at U of VA.

What did you like best about this story?

Research

Have you listened to any of Mark Deakins’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The story of Kyle Van Noy at BYU was fascinating and downright inspirational while the system at Tennessee was very disturbing. The sketch drawn of Mike Leach's character is one that leaves a lot to be desired. Big money has really corrupted both individuals and some institutions.

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highly recommended

For those with a passionate interest in the NCAA and/or NFL Or NBA this is fabulous reporting. it also a legitimate research document; an incredible source for facts and details about contemporary athletes.

THE SYSTEM relates human dramas, sociology, race relations, big business, higher education and sport. likely to interest any reader cause the dramas are so compelling regardless of the names. However, in most cases, these stories are about real people (atheletes) who are fresh in my memory and experience.

This book is very long. But is always interesting. Each chapter is a different subject and each chapter is compelling to the very end...

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  • Tim W
  • Cedar Rapids, IA United States
  • 09-29-15

Good for BYU and Alabama fans

Most of the stories in this book were concentrated around just a few programs. Not the best book in that I figured there would be more behind it than a few programs and some rather disturbing tales of abuse of girls.

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  • Steve Wren
  • 03-19-15

Hugely informative

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • A. Turner
  • 06-24-16

just amazing inside look at college football

This book gives an inside look at the whole world of college football, from booster's, hostesses, AD's via players, coaches and the Game day TV crew. Fascinating and insightful, I learnt so much, if you have any interest in college football you cannot fail to find this book interesting. The biggest compliment that I can pay the narrator is that he enhanced my enjoyment of a fascinating book.

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  • Lloyd Gunton
  • 05-26-16

good listen very enjoyable

I enjoyed listening to the book. narrator was good if a little dry and it gave some good insights. I was expecting a little more of an expose based on the blurb but that might have just been my misinterpretation. overall highly enjoyable.

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  • CHRIS
  • 05-22-16

Great Listen

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes

What did you like best about this story?

Very informative

Which character – as performed by Mark Deakins – was your favourite?

n/a

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

n/a

Any additional comments?

Really enjoyed listening to this, very informative and interesting, certainly one of the best books I've purchased on Audible.