SATURDAY AFTERNOON: College Football and the Men Who Made the Day by Richard Whittingham

SATURDAY AFTERNOON: College Football and the Men Who Made the Day

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A veteran sportswriter celebrates college football in an evocative narrative enchanced by a wealth of splendid photos and collateral material. Whittingham kicks off with a short illustrated history of the US game, which he traces back to 1820 when a form of association soccer was played at Princeton. Among other things, his decade-by-decade log covers key personalities (Walter Camp, George Halas, John William Heisman), famous firsts (e.g., forward pass, hidden-ball trick, Homecoming), and important rules changes like platooning. In a separate section, the author recaps the emergence of major conferences, noting that the Ivy League is a decidedly junior circuit whose members did not formally join forces until 1954. There are also capsule bios on a host of legendary coaches, including Red Blaik, Bear Bryant, Woody Hayes, Ara Paseghian, and Amos Alonzo Stagg. The Knute Rockne profile is informed by the intelligence that fabled George Gipp (whose short, presumptively heroic life inspired a tear-jerking half-time speech by his mentor) was actually a hard-drinking womanizer who bet heavily on the Notre Dame teams for which he played so well. Whittingham does not overdo the iconoclasm. Nor does he lapse into superfan hyperbole in reprising such traditional rivalries as Alabama-Georgia, Army-Navy, Michigan-Ohio State, Texas-Oklahoma, and UCLA-USC. The same holds true for his accounts of great contests--and great contenders--Doc Blanchard, Glenn Davis, Doug Flutie, Red Grange, Mike Rozier, Bill Swiacki, Jim Thorpe, Doak Walker, et al. At the end of the final quarter, the author is still advancing the ball with briefings on classic match-ups in major bowl games; there's even a year-by-year rundown on the College All-Star Game, last played in 1976. An appendix summarizes individual performance records compiled by those who played for NCAA Division 1-A teams, Complementing the won/lost tabulations and other statistical data included throughout the text. An altogether winning replay for college gridiron buffs, especially those who Can't remember when the grass was real, drop-kicking an art, and players played 60 minutes.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Workman