Red Grange and the Rise of Modern Football
by John M. Carroll,
University of Illinois Press, $25.95
This is an article from the Aug. 23, 1999 issue
For much of this century the most famous of all football heroes
was a self-effacing Midwesterner named Harold (Red) Grange. He
was "a streak of fire, a breath of flame," wrote Grantland Rice.
Author Carroll, a professor of history at Lamar University in
Texas, seeks to explain the phenomenon of Grange, who came along
in the Roaring '20s, the so-called Golden Age of Sports.
Grange could play, as witness his stunning five-touchdown
performance against a top Michigan team on Oct. 18, 1924, the
day he became an instant legend. Carroll's problem is that
Grange was not very interesting off the field. Summing up his
own career, the Galloping Ghost concluded, "I could run, and
that was the basis of any success I ever had."
Rockne of Notre Dame
by Ray Robinson,
Oxford University Press, $27.50
Robinson has no such difficulty bringing Knute Rockne to life,
since the Notre Dame coach, another ornament of the Golden Age,
had personality to burn. It helps that Robinson is an
entertaining writer who revels in the irony of a Norwegian
immigrant perpetuating the fame of the Fighting Irish.
Robinson has fun with the Rockne myths, particularly the famous
Gipper oration. Who knows, or cares, what George Gipp's actual
last words were; what matters is that when Rockne tearfully
recited them to his team at halftime of the 1928 Army game at
Yankee Stadium, he "created Notre Dame's most enduring legend,
enhancing the reputation of all parties concerned--Notre Dame,
Gipp, Rockne and even Ronald Reagan."
Never Before, Never Again
by Eddie Robinson with Richard Lapchick, Thomas Dunne Books,
In this autobiography Robinson recalls his 56 years as coach at
Grambling State and the emergence, largely through his own
admirable efforts, of the African-American football star. His
co-author is the son of yet another coaching legend, basketball's
Faith in the Game
by Tom Osborne, Broadway Books, $17.50
The former Nebraska coach advises the reader on coaching
techniques and how to live the sort of moral life not habitually
pursued by all of his players. Osborne did not use a
ghostwriter, but with sentences on the order of, "Mentoring has
a longitudinal effect," he should have rethought that decision.
by Carmen L. Cozza with Rick Odermatt,
Yale University Press, $29.95
In his 32 years at Yale, Coach Cozza fought the good fight
against both Harvard and declining interest in Ivy League
football. But he does see hope for the future of the Ivy game
even if the league members retain their high academic standards.
The Junction Boys
by Jim Dent, St. Martin's Press, $24.95
In this engaging book Dent recounts the year 1954, when new
coach Bear Bryant put Texas A&M football players through an
excruciating preseason. From an original squad of 115, only 35
stayed with the program, including future coaches Gene Stallings
and Jack Pardee. All of which must prove something.