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Majors (The Millionaires, 2009, etc.) goes comic on football when he follows graduate assistant Raymond Love, scratching for a coaching slot at a big-time SEC program, as he is assigned to drive for Coach Woody during the university’s annual Pigskin Cavalcade. 

A top-notch small-college quarterback, Raymond grabbed a big-time SEC (think, Crimson Tide) graduate position, but he’s mostly an errand boy. Raymond stays on tiptoes when dynamic head coach, Von Driver, glad-hands through the locker room. Now Von Driver has assigned him to baby-sit Woody, the popular, talented, but eccentric assistant coach. Out among the boosters, Woody needs a keeper, something Raymond comprehends after he arrives at Woody’s house at midnight to find the old man sprawled on the floor in his bathrobe crying over Del Monaco’s operatic rendition of Othello. A Doberman is comforting Woody by licking his head, and the kitchen is equipped with a bottle of George Dickel whisky. Laugh-out-loud comedy populates the narrative, but the story’s essence evolves from the raunch and roll of Semi-Tough into a test of Raymond’s character. That’s on and off the field, for women are involved. In his spare time, Raymond has joined a book club, primarily to pursue the charming Brooke. Only later does he learn the beauty is the school athletic director’s daughter. There’s also Raymond’s good friend on campus, Julie, a grad student employee of the football office with a lawyer-to-be fiance in Washington. Woody is beloved, with goodwill in the bank, but on the calvacade, his love for the game’s purity means he cannot tolerate flunky treatment from a drunken, moneybags booster. A nose is punched. Jobs are lost. Raymond must choose between honor and ambition. Good lessons all, but Majors’ talent shines through his characters—Raymond, amiable, introspective; Woody, the lovable-crazy-amiable uncle; Von Driver, the archetype; TNT, who puts fanatic in the fan; and Barbara Driver, coach’s wife and ideal dinner companion on the rubber-chicken circuit.   

A sardonic, fun take on big-time college football, where booster money plays first-team offense.

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-393-06280-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2012


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