ROAD TO NUMBER ONE: A Personal Chronicle of Penn State Football by Ridge Riley

ROAD TO NUMBER ONE: A Personal Chronicle of Penn State Football

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Can football act as a catalyst for a university's pursuit of excellence? That's just what it's been at Penn State, according to Riley's bulging, exuberant account of the fortunes of the Nittany Lions, the team that's always ""on the road to number one."" The infectiously dauntless spirit that marks Penn State football--alumni, players, coaches and fans--is reflected in heroic/student press accounts of some less than glorious moments--like the 1889 Lehigh loss: 106--0. Riley, who died after the 1975 season, headed the PS alumni association and was a 50-year observer of university teams; he writes with the forever-young zest of one who remembers every jubilant touchdown, paying homage to ex-coaches and ex-players like ""Mother"" Dunn, Rosie Grier, and recent Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti. Not only alumni but all those who root for the East's foremost state college over its elitist Ivy League rivals can relive breathless moments at Cotton, Orange, and Rose Bowl games. Adamantly defending the prominence of the game on campus, Riley notes with pride that football pays for all other university athletic programs. Of course under coach Joe Paterno, regarded by some as the best in college football today, Penn State has gone from strength to strength and it is he who best described the self-esteem of the team when, following the 1974 Orange Bowl victory, he said: ""I had my own poll--the Paterno Poll--and the vote was unanimous. Penn State is No. 1. I just took the vote a few minutes ago."" A welcome corrective to the prevalent cynicism about big-money college athletics--at least that.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1977
Publisher: Doubleday