The Making of a Football Legend
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The life and achievements of legendary college football coach Knute Rockne are retold in a humdrum biography. From 1918 to 1931, with an overall winning percentage of .881 (105 victories, 12 defeats, and 5 ties), Rockne helped revolutionize the way college football is played and created a devoutly loyal following for Notre Dame. Here magazine editor and sportswriter Robinson (Matty: An American Hero, 1993) rehashes familiar information. While he does discuss some of Rockne's pioneering moves, particularly the forward pass (a tactic Rockne and Gus Dorais used as players against a heavily favored Army team), most innovations, such as spring football practice and daily conditioning drills which included dance, are glossed over, and the games themselves are recounted in a dull and unimaginative way. The mythical Notre Dame figures of George Gipp ("Win one for the Gipper") and the Four Horsemen backfield are discussed, of course, and Robinson does try to give a clue to Rockne's time with background information about the history of Notre Dame, the anti-Catholic bigotry that was long prevalent in the US, the birth of famous sports rivalries such as Notre Dame and Army, and the phenomenon of sports celebrity. But while Rockne the coach, whose untimely death in 1931 caused nationwide grief, is examined, one wishes for more insight into Rockne the erudite man with a pugilist face. Rockne was a master at pumping up his team with speeches and psychological manipulations, but there are not enough direct quotes or meaty anecdotes to give proof of the coach's oratorical skills and magnetic personality. A basic overview for die-hard followers of Notre Dame football, but the Rockne spirit is lacking. (24 b&w photos)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: ---
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.