A pedal-to-the-metal survey of SEC football.
Radio and TV sports personality Finebaum is known as the “Mouth of the South,” and for the first few pages, his local boosterism and sheer windbaggery will make readers understand why his title comes with capital letters: “The SEC is college football’s version of Rome, the center of the football universe. Long may it rule.” Given the past 10-plus years in college football, it may be hard to argue with him on that note. When he comes out with “the most meaningful traditions,” readers may have already had enough, but then another note creeps in—“the most decadent football stadiums…the most obscene operating budgets…the kind of personal scandals that give TMZ a reason to live…the most obnoxiously large marching bands"—and you realize that the Mouth has a Tongue that is at least partly in Cheek. Wade through the logorrhea, and plenty of worthy football nuggets and insights become evident. Finebaum presents a sharp profile of Texas A&M and many chromatic vignettes of other football towns. The author also picks coaches apart. Of legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant, he writes, “I couldn’t understand a word he said. It was as if he were speaking in tongues.” And former Florida and current Ohio State coach Urban Meyer: “a good and decent person underneath the steely demeanor. Don’t misunderstand me: I wouldn’t want to go on an Alaskan cruise with him.” For all Finebaum’s ego and opinions, there is plenty of false modesty. As a TV commentator, he writes, “I was born with the facial elasticity of an IRS auditor.” The author is always well-informed and plenty happy to deliver judgment: “Clemson is always good for at least one inexplicable letdown per season.”
Finebaum is articulate and knows his football, though this book is just more candy for his admirers and grist for the mills of his detractors.