Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football

S. & S. Sept. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781476706436. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781476706443. SPORTS
The things that make college football superior to pro football in Bacon's view—the traditions, the regional rivalries, and the passionate involvement of students and alumni—he sees threatened by fraud and the ceaseless pursuit of money. For the 2012 season, Bacon (Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines) covered four Big Ten schools—Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, and Northwestern—and here addresses issues such as counterproductive and inconsistently applied sanctions, the precarious balance of academics and athletics, and the clear conflict between monetization and a nonprofit mission. Throughout, he decries the governing NCAA as a soulless marketing arm working with college administrators who all too often are opportunistic mercenaries. Additionally, Bacon describes throughout much of the history and traditions of Big Ten schools as they relate to the weakening devotion of alumni.
VERDICT Although the focus is the Big Ten, the message is widely applicable and of interest to all college football fans. [See Prepub Alert, 3/25/13.]

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