April 21, 2014

My Short, Short List

I haven’t made a “Short, Short List” in a while.  I have read and reviewed a few books since my last one in May.  This list is not quite as short as I have reviewed a few more books.

1.  Tarnished Heisman: Did Reggie Bush Turn His Final College Season into a Six-Figure Job? by Don Yaeger and Jim Henry.  The authors delve into the controversy surrounding the potential gifts that Reggie Bush received his last two years as a student athlete at USC.  Here is my review of the book.

2.  Hero of the Underground by Jason Peter.  This book is a memoir by former Nebraska Cornhusker defensive lineman and Carolina Panther Jason Peter about his journey to heroin abuse and back to sobriety.  It is a tough book to read in which Peter describes the lifestyle in which he was entrenched, and I don’t recommend it for young teenagers.

3.  Season of Life: A Football Star, a Boy, a Journey to Manhood by Jeffrey Marx.  A good inspirational and encouraging book about a couple of high school football coaches who are seeking to make a difference in the lives of young men more than they are trying to win games.  But, they win the games too.  Here is my review, in two parts.

4.  Top Dawg: Mark Richt and the Revival of Georgia Football by Rob Suggs.  If you were watching Gameday on ESPN this morning, you saw the moving segment on Mark Richt and his wife who adopted two children from the Ukraine.  Mark Richt is one of the reasons that Georgia Bulldog football is a top ten program once again.  This book by Rob Suggs captures the unique revival that Richt brought to the ‘Dawg program.  Here is my review.

5.  Walk-On:  A Memoir by Thom Gossom, Jr. This book is a memoir by the first African American athlete to graduate from Auburn University.  Gossom went on to excel in many aspects including a film and TV career.  Gossom does a terrific job of describing the hardship he endured as one of the few African American students at the rural southern school.  Gossom holds memories of pain and joy from his days at Auburn.  Here is my review of the book.

Currently I am reading Rosebowl Dreams by fellow blogger Adams Jones (no relation), and I will be reading The Galloping Ghost: Red Grange, an American Football Legend by Gary A. Poole shortly.  I will do reviews of these books in the next couple of months.  At that point, I am thinking of reading something Christmas through the holidays.  What do you think?

Previous Short, Short Lists

Short, Short List number one
Short, Short List number two

Tarnished Heisman: A Book Review

Don Yaeger and Jim Henry have put together the book which recounts the explosive allegations of the Reggie Bush scandal. Bush is the 2005 Heisman Trophy winning running back from The University of Southern California and first round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints.

In Tarnished Heisman: Did Reggie Bush Turn His Final College Season into a Six-Figure Job? Yaeger andTarnished Heisman Henry use investigative journalism to piece together what is arguably the biggest college football story in the past three years, dating back to the season in which Reggie Bush won his Heisman Trophy. Yaeger and Hill depend on court testimony, public documents, eye witness testimony, recorded conversations, as well as personal interviews. Personal Interviews were largely conducted with those who implicated Bush in the receiving of improper benefits during his third year at USC as those who could defend Bush did not return requests for interviews with the authors.

Although the authors use personal interviews from its main accuser, Lloyd Lake, they acknowledge the biases that are inherent. They state that every journalist wishes that their source had the character of Mother Teresa, but the reality is they do not. Lloyd is a convicted felon who has been characterized as a career criminal. To their credit, they piece together their evidence, as if they were creating a mosaic, to paint a picture of Reggie Bush and his parents as taking out a loan on Bush’s future success in the NFL during his Junior year at USC. I am not sure why, but some of the evidence that is extremely damning, like a lease agreement between Bush’s family and a businessman, are posted at the book’s website rather than featured in the book. They do offer some of the transcripts of tapes made by Lake when he had conversations with Bush and his step-father, LaMar Griffin.

Much of the story revolves around New Era Sports & Entertainment, a sports agency that was to use the signing of Reggie Bush for the 2006 NFL Draft as a cornerstone to market itself with other professional athletes. Lake, the founder of the agency, alleges that the Bush family was involved in the development of the agency. In fact, as the book points, it was even Reggie Bush’s idea as a way to recoup some of the fee money required by those who would represent him. As a part owner, some of the fees for representation would return to the family, thereby saving costs and receiving a return on Bush’s value.

The authors, probably understanding how difficult it can be to keep up with all of the characters, offer a Cast of Characters addition in the back of the book with names and descriptions of all who were involved in the story. Also included is a Timeline of Events in which the events of the story unfold including those that pertain to New Era Sports, the failed sports agency which tried to sign Reggie Bush for the 2006 NFL Draft. Finally, there is an addition to the end of the book entitled A New Era of Spending which outlines the alleged payments to Reggie Bush and his family beginning in December 2004.

The bigger picture involved in this story is the poverty of athletes. Some might call it a perceived poverty. For their work on the football field, whether they score a touchdown or not, scholarship athletes in football receive a free education and room and board. Many have called for athletes to be given stipends or some form of payment to help with living expenses as many are from very poor families and can not afford certain expenses. Some believe that athletes such as Bush generate even more revenue for the school than it normally would have gained. Therefore, why should athletes struggle financially while the network executives and school officials enjoy the fruit of the athlete’s labor? This is a debate for another post, however, one must remember that college athletics, even if the schools and TV networks are getting richer because of their performances, are an amateur sports. The athletes are allowed to work during the summers to save money for those expenses during the school year. Cool cars and expensive apartments off campus probably should not be considered necessary expenses.

You can buy a copy of the book at my bookstore. Under the browse by category click on My Picks.

Coming Up on CFTT

As you know, we have kept up with the release of the preseason college football magazines at CFTT. They all appear to be on the shelves at some point this month, and, as you probably know by now, they actually arrive in the stores a little before their due dates. I have already picked up a copy of Lindy’s preseason magazine, and today I got a copy of Athlon’s preseason magazine. I plan on doing a review of each magazine along with comparisons of their top tens in the month of July. What else would I write about?

I am now finished reading Tarnished Heisman: Did Reggie Bush Turn His Final College Season into aTarnished Heisman Six-Figure Job? by Don Yaeger and Jim Henry. I will be working on a review and hope to have it published later this week. It is a book full information, and the subject, in my opinion, raises bigger issues than just the Reggie Bush scandal.

Finally, as the summer winds down, we will publish our second annual Top Ten Off-Season Stories. This is where I need your help. I need readers of CFTT to email your votes for top Off-Season stories. You can email your choice for to Off-Season story to offseason[AT]collegefootballtopten.com.

My Short, Short List

In my first Short, Short List, I listed some books I wanted to read. Well, I have read one of those books. However, I have read at least a couple of college football books since then and am working on one now. Here is my new Short, Short List.

1. Meat Market: Inside the Smash-Mouth World of College Football Recruiting. Bruce Feldman. Good book, and here is my review of the book. By the way, if you are interested, Brian at inthebleachers.net has a podcast in which he interviews the author, Bruce Feldman. You can check it out here.

2. Fourth and New Orleans: How Tulane Football Survived the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrinea. Benjamin Hochman with Coach Chris Scelfo. My review for this book is here.

3. We Are Marshall. Starring Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox. A co-worker of mine who is not a big football fan told me that she cried when watching this movie. It is very moving and inspiring. Gives a bit of background on how freshmen were eventually allowed to play on varsity college football teams. If you love college football and feel-good stories, this is one you want to watch.

Coming Soon

Tarnished Heisman: Did Reggie Bush Turn His Final College Season into a Six-Figure Job?
by Don Yager and Jim Henry. Visit their website here.