OPENING KICKOFF: THE TUMULTUOUS BIRTH OF A FOOTBALL NATION
Buy it here:
Dave reached out to OTE about a month ago, alerting me that his new book was dropping soon and he would love us to review it here. The book's subject matter? The origin of college football and the revelation that scandal, eligibility concerns, gameplay issues, booster influence, and spiritedly insane fans...have all been a part of CFB since its inception.
"THE KICKER NOW IS KING AND THE PEOPLE BOW DOWN TO HIM"
The kicker was king, a fact that will bring joy and happy tears to the OTE masses. The book's unquestioned star is the unquestioned star of that old time, Pat O'Dea of Wisconsin. The famous "kangaroo kicker" (because he was an Aussie) drop-kicked his way to the top of the CFB world.
Drop-kicking for points was the best way of scoring back in the 1890's and early 1900's. O'Dea was the best at controlling field position and drop-kicking. In fact, punting on first and second down was a good way to control the game. The Midwest is going to buy this book in bulk.
SCHOOLS, BOOSTERS AND FANS, ALL HILARIOUSLY SIMILAR
Some of my favorite quotes have to do with the eligibility and courting of excellent players.
One player wrote a school, saying that he had received "offers" to go along with playing for Harvard and Yale, and wanted to know what this school would be offering for his services?
The Midwest schools came together around 1900 and made new eligibility rules, which would have stopped certain star players from participating. So...many of the schools decided to not enforce the rules they had agreed on. Pretty standard behavior.
Some other iconic quotes to give you the flavor of the book:
(This from a Northwestern student newspaper) "Song is the most potent thing to awaken spirit and spontaneity in college gatherings"
"Broadway was jammed with delirious Princeton fans, waving flags and TWIRLING THEIR HATS ON CANES"
I enjoyed the thoroughness of this book and appreciated the corollaries toward modern football. So buy this for the history lover in your family. Or because you love a well-researched, well-written, fascinating look at early College Football. Or because you love kickers and punters. Or because you hold an unreasonable and obsessive grudge toward University of Chicago for dumping football and missing out on B1G!B1G!
OTHER REVIEWS, Q&A's