A hodgepodge of football history pivots around the controversial ranking systems.
As long as there are fans, there will be unhappiness with the final rankings in football’s polls. But Doeden is certainly right on two points: the Bowl Championship Series was hopelessly flawed by positive point differentials, and the new College Football Playoff looks likely to “crown a single, undisputed champ each season.” Yet the top spot still doesn’t guarantee a great game, just as many Super Bowls have been duds. Doeden senses this, and so his book wanders about somewhat, hitting on great title games but also taking a look into the evolution of the game—including safety concerns, then and now—and the building of dynasties, such as the strings put together by Alabama and Notre Dame. Doeden has fun with celebrated plays, highlighting perhaps the most famous of all: Roy “Wrong-Way” Riegels’ dash to the wrong end zone, incurring a two-point safety that proved to be the losing margin in the 1929 Rose Bowl. Doeden ends on two critical issues, both altogether unrelated to championships: the concern about brain injuries and the rules regarding player compensation. As Doeden notes, football is headed for some big changes, and not just in how the champ is crowned.
An enjoyable if unfocused walk through football history. (Nonfiction. 10-15)