The Origins of Southern College Football

The Origins of Southern College Football

How An Ivy League Game Became A Dixie Tradition

Book - 2020
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"Southern college football today is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise. Colossal stadiums that can hold more than 100,000 ticketholders tower over the South's landscapes. The highest paid college football coach in history is the University of Alabama's Nick Saban, who earned at least eleven million dollars during the 2017 season. Saban's success on the gridiron has produced higher enrollment numbers for Alabama and a huge increase in the school's endowment. The conference Saban represents, the Southeastern Conference (SEC), collects more than 450 million dollars annually from bowl games and broadcast deals. Sales of officially-licensed merchandise generate additional revenue. Five of the top ten best-selling college brands at Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, are SEC schools. The introduction of the College Football Playoff (CFP) in 2014 has added even more profits, with ESPN shelling out 7.2 billion dollars over twelve years for broadcast rights to the CFP, which has thus far been dominated by southern teams. With so much interest in southern college football, it is surprising that so few histories of it exist. Those that have been published are either narrowly-focused team histories or celebratory narratives by sports journalists. Andrew Bell's "The Origins of Southern College Football" is the first comprehensive and scholarly study of southern college football that places the history of the game in a broader historical context. Bell begins with the earliest games at the Washington & Lee University during Reconstruction and concludes with the Georgia Tech Golden Tornado's national championship during World War One (the South's first). Between these two points are contained every aspect of the evolution of southern football: The development of "scientific" football at Ivy League universities; the southward spread of football at the hands of Johns Hopkins University graduates; opposition to football among southern conservatives; the first games played by every Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) program below the Mason-Dixon Line; and the violence, mayhem, and deaths that nearly led to the eradication of football at southern universities. Bell's study is more than just a history of the South's favorite pastime; it is also a story of America in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era and the politics and personalities that defined these two turbulent periods. Indeed, Bell shows that football is the ideal prism through which to examine the United States' metamorphosis from a laissez faire industrial society to a bureaucratized one, because football underwent a similar transformation during the same period. Gilded Age football was a brutish and amateurish game that Progressives fashioned into a sport governed by committees and rules which made it safer and more acceptable to middle-class Americans"--
Publisher: Baton Rouge :, Louisiana State University Press,, [2020]
©2020
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9780807171202
0807171204
Branch Call Number: 796.332097 Bell
Characteristics: 188 pages :,illustrations ;,23 cm

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