A colorful history of the Univ. of Texas Longhorns football program by Austin sportswriters Maher and Bohls, who help explain the mentality behind the unofficial team slogan, ``Be number one, or be no one.'' The Longhorns won their last national championship in 1969, crowning the glory days of coach Darrell Royal, a legendary figure who led the team to ten Cotton Bowls and never had a losing season in 20 years. Opening the 1990 season under head coach David McWilliams, following a losing 1989 campaign and scandals involving steroids, gambling, and academic snafus, there was little reason for optimism. But a convincing win against Penn State and a close loss to tough Colorado showed promise of better things. Bookend tackles Stan Thomas, 6'6'', 300 lbs., and Chuck Johnson, 6'5'', 275 lbs., brought back memories of yesteryear, when grind-it-out trench warfare was the Longhorns' strong suit. Interspersed with descriptions of the 1990 season are glances back at the Royal years and after, with profiles of athletic director DeLoss Dodds, running back Earl Campbell, ``the perma-pressed [Coach Fred] Akers era,'' and powerful ``Czar'' Frank Erwin, who was chairman of the Board of Regents in the 60's and 70's. Maher and Bohls also examine—and only occasionally soft-pedal—the issues of racism (Royal ``didn't manage to recruit a black to his football team until'' 1969), NCAA recruiting violations, and drug use and other scandals that have plagued college football in recent years. As the Longhorns progress through the 10-1, 1990 season en route to an embarrassing loss to Miami in the Cotton Bowl, there are big wins against rival Oklahoma, Arkansas, TCU, and Houston, amply detailed and analyzed by the authors, who are both fans and critics of the ``whatever it takes'' football philosophy. As much fun as a Texas barbecue, but with its serious side. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 1991

ISBN: 0-312-06305-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1991

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More than just a game book of college football, The Sweet Season at the innocent appeal of sports in everyday life.



Sports and human interest intertwine as a man rediscovers the pureness of amateur sports as well as the joys of family life.

Journalist Murphy spends a much-needed sabbatical from his stint at Sports Illustrated by taking his family to rural Collegeville, Minnesota, in order to interact with the coach and players at St. John’s, a small Benedictine college, which happens to have the best record in college football history. Through 2000, the Johnnies have won the conference title 23 times, advanced to the national playoffs 16 times, advanced to the title game 4 times, and have won it 3 times—thanks mainly to its head coach, John Gagliardi, the NCAA’s winningest active coach (second on the all-time list to the retired Eddie Robinson) and a regional celebrity. Gagliardi is a friendly and sometimes elusive, Yoda-like coach who insists that his quarterbacks call their own plays and who hides a strategist’s mind behind an unassuming style. But besides Gagliardi, and talented players such as Tom Linnemann, it is the atmosphere of the school itself that Murphy credits with the success of the Johnnies. At first experiencing some culture shock, Murphy and his family settle into life at this place where the Benedictine monks set the reflective tone and unhurried pace. And while Murphy gets involved with the team, he also reconnects with his wife, Laura, and his two young children. With appealing humor, Murphy recounts how he acquires newfound respect for what his wife goes through on a daily basis and how, in turn, Laura sees in her husband “more of the guy she fell in love with.” The epilogue gives a brief synopsis of the 2000–01 year, when the Johnnies lost to Mount Union in the Stagg Bowl.

More than just a game book of college football, The Sweet Season at the innocent appeal of sports in everyday life.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-019547-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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An appealing mix of baseball and cultural history.



During one of the most tumultuous years in our history, a remarkable baseball season unfolded.

In 1968, most baseball players had to work a second job to make ends meet. There were no wild-card teams or division winners. That year the Detroit Tigers became only the third club in history to rally from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the powerful St. Louis Cardinals in the Fall Classic. Showcasing this looming match-up, Wendel (Writing/Johns Hopkins Univ.; High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time, 2010, etc.) foreshortens the season by focusing on the stories of individual Tigers Gates Brown, Willie Horton, Dick McAuliffe and, especially, pitchers Denny McLain, who won an astonishing 31 games, and Mickey Lolich, the Series MVP. The author also looks at Cardinal stars Lou Brock, Curt Flood, Tim McCarver, Orlando Cepeda and especially pitcher Bob Gibson, among the game’s all-time greatest. He charts the thrilling Series game by game. More intriguing, though, is the season’s unique backdrop: the “Year of the Pitcher” in baseball and the national turmoil surrounding the sports world. In addition to McLain and Gibson’s heroics (both won the Cy Young and MVP awards), the season saw five no-hitters (including a perfect game by Catfish Hunter), a consecutive game strikeout record by Luis Tiant and an unprecedented scoreless innings streak by Don Drysdale. Meanwhile, the country was falling apart. Urban riots and massive antiwar demonstrations helped persuade LBJ not to run again. By the time the Chicago Democratic Convention exploded in the streets, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy had already been assassinated. Wendel touches briefly on how the year agitated other sports, but he focuses on the baseball story and the athletes accustomed to ignoring the outside world. They found that impossible to do in the chaotic year of ’68.

An appealing mix of baseball and cultural history.

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-306-82018-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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