A Season Inside the SEC,
College Football's Toughest Conference.
Read free excepts
from "Bragging Rights", the absorbing new book about
the SEC and the amazing stories of college football.
Conference is college football's crucible the toughest
and most demanding league in the land. What makes it so? What
motivates the "slashing hell fellows" who play the game?
What drives the coaches, who are paid well but under enormous
pressure? Find out in these excepts:
Roughnecks and Romance:
An Introduction to the SEC
It was good
to be back in the South. After twelve years in New York City and
two years in Tokyo with Newsweek magazine, during which time I
wrote mostly esoteric foreign news stories, I was getting back
to my roots"major-college southern football. I'd decided
to write a book about Southeastern Conference (SEC) football specifically,
the 1999 season, which promised, like all SEC seasons, to be both
wild and unpredictable, with a dozen roughneck teams and millions
of fanatical fans, galvanized by another quest for supremacy in
America's toughest conference. More.
Energy and Passion
for tickets to SEC games is overwhelming. At the more successful
schools, such as Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia,
fans must contribute roughly $2,000 to their university's athletic
department just to be eligible to buy two season tickets. More.
A Secret Weapon
all started with Harold "War Eagle" Ketron. In the early 1900s,
Ketron came out of the north Georgia mountains to become one of
Georgia's most notorious football stars. When the ball was snapped,
Ketron would spit tobacco juice in his opponent's eye and then
make the tackle. Spitting tobacco was his secret weapon. More.
In the late
1980s former Alabama President Joab Thomas created a huge stir
when he challenged the primacy of the school's football program.
Thomas, who has a Ph.D. from Harvard, declared that he wanted
boost Alabama's academic reputation"so that people around
the country would not perceive the university as merely a football
school. If necessary to accomplish that goal, he said, less emphasis
should be placed on the sport. More.
A Pressure Caldron
are smalltown guys. They come from Winchester, Tennessee; Opp,
Alabama; and Camden, Arkansas. They come from working-class backgrounds»and
bring a working-class ethic to their jobs. It's a good thing,
because coaching in the SEC is a pressure caldron. The head man
must recruit talented young players out of high school, raise
money, entertain alumni, perform charitable work, graduate his
players. And win football games. You think your job is tough?
More. . .
On the Road
started last May, when I drove down from Tampa, Florida, to Gainesville
to interview University of Florida Football Coach Steve Spurrier.
Gator fans affectionately call him "The Head Ball Coach." Gator
foes decry his "evil genius." More. .
Fathers and Sons
How did I
come to undertake this (crazy) project? Simple: I am a journalist,
a writer for Newsweek magazine, and I like college football. My
father, a native of Mansfield, Ohio, was an SEC football player.
In the early 1950s, Dick Ernsberger was a 6-foot, 160-pound fullback
for the University of Tennessee. More.