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The System  By  cover art

The System

By: Jeff Benedict,Armen Keteyian
Narrated by: Mark Deakins
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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

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What listeners say about The System

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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.

3 people found this helpful

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Insightful But Uneven

The System is a book that makes it immediately clear that a significant amount of research was put into telling stories that illustrate the world around college football and how the world operates. Benedict and Keteyian use stories from the world of college football to give the reader an accurate picture of how football operates and how players, coaches, administration and just average students get caught up and used by the system in both negative and beneficial ways. These stories excellently outline the scandals that have engulfed schools like Tennessee and their brief employment of Lane Kiffin, and Mike Leach and the end of his illustrious tenure at Texas Tech, exploring the cause and reaction of figures in the football world and what aspects have come back to negatively affect those who had previously relied on them. The stories also do well to illustrate the culture of football, exploring how a school’s identity and pride can be caught up in the sport and how it can affect a school in negative ways such as paying a coach more than any other public employee in the state. Benedict and Keteyian do an excellent job of showing how these actions that should be strange are actually considered normal because of the culture around football in college. And perhaps most importantly, the authors do an excellent job of illustrating and describing how players get caught up and used by this system, and how it affects them.
That all being said, the book still has flaws, for although it is largely billed as an inside look at the glory but also the problems of college football, there are times in which this book tells stories about players and coaches and administrators that glamorize the system, leading to a strange conflict in which it will appear at one moment to be critiquing the system of college athletics, and the very next chapter it may seem to be praising college athletics and many of the aspects that have been previously described as negative. There will be times the book seems to criticize the spending on coaches or the attitude of coaches, only to turn around and celebrate such figures as Nick Saban, Bronco Mendenhall, and Leach. This shift in tone can lead to inconsistency on exactly what the aim for the book is and what the goal of the authors exactly was. Nonetheless, this is an interesting book that provides insights into how the system operates and how it can lead to both glory and notoriety, as well as infamy and disreputation. An excellent listen for all those interested in the nitty gritty of the sport, and in general a great work by these two authors.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

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You must be a sports fan to enjoy this book

When I bought this book I expect the author to present a thesis, and then build his case through stories and evidence. I expected something great. This book was really just a compilation of interesting football stories, it wasn't building a case to prove a point. With that said, as a huge football fan I really enjoyed most of the stories. It was very well written, and well researched, and the stories were not the usual football stories. I was just let down by the randomness of the book.

If you are a big fan of college football you will enjoy this book. If you are not much of a sports fan, especially college football, this book will not really draw you in.

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  • H
  • 08-11-20

The Men Behind the Curtain

This was an interesting story of the nature of college football today. Some of it was horrific (see sexual assault case at BYU) with some stories of redemption (see Kyle Van Noy story starts BYU). I don’t mind hearing the truth. I wish we had more facts in today’s world. This was a good read.

1 person found this helpful

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YES!!! If you follow college football

What did you love best about The System?

The System is must read for anyone with more than a passing interest in college football. Each chapter takes a specific element of the college football game (coach, recruitment, crimes committed by athletes, NCAA investigations, boosters...) and explores the topics in detail through the use of factual stories. These stories best exemplify the moral corruption within the system of college athletics and are great listening material. The listener almost forgets this is an audio book, instead The System seems like a highly detailed/smart sport radio program (without commercials). What listeners can expect is an inside/outside education about what really happens in big time college football programs. Some avid college football fans may find the book obvious as the topics have all been previously explored by 60-Minutes and ESPN. If you are an avid college football fan and know what a "Hostess" relative to recruiting college athletes, you probably know 90% of the information in The System.My only criticism of The System is the organization of the chapters. The book does lead of an over aching point. The listener is exposed to one theme of college football at a time until the books simply ends.

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Very interesting behind the scenes look!

If you could sum up The System in three words, what would they be?

Somebody's Getting Paid!

Which scene was your favorite?

Recruitment of Kyle Van Noy and the "walk-on" Ziggy Ansah.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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!

Any additional comments?

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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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.

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Really good book

Really good book. Definitely was sad to finish it but at the same time it makes watching NCAA football that much harder now.

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Great read for the college football fan

As an avid college football fan, I loved this book. Yes there are some disturbing parts in the book such as sex scandals but the title is "Glory and Scandal" which should imply there will be disturbing content. The authors center most of the book around a handful of programs nationally, but have done a good job in gathering info from each. I enjoyed how they illustrate progression of Mike Leach to each program that he coaches and points out each of the issues he faces at each program. Very well done.

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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.

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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.