Review: The College Football Book By Sports Illustrated

About a month ago, Sports Illustrated contacted me out of the blue.  I was pretty excited that they wanted to talk to me, since I've only been around for about 2 months.  They just released "The College Football Book", a coffee table book replete with tons of great photography and great college football info, encompassing the last 140 years of college football.

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They shipped me an advanced copy and asked me to look it over. 

The College Football Book is organized into sections, by decade (they classify pre-'20's as one era), and that organization allows them to really show the changes that have happened in the game we love.  They begin each section with a montage of covers from game programs in the relevant decade.  They've also included an All-Decade team within each section.  From there, they hit you with the pictures and the articles.  Usually, there are two pictures per page, and each spread attempts to capture some theme; usually a theme from the decade, a memorable moment, or change between a former era and the current section. 

They've also gone through their many years of writing and chosen the best college football articles.  I couldn't decide if I would rather have seen more photography instead of the articles, but the articles that they selected were well penned.  They accompany the one page article with the original photo that ran in the magazine.

While the photo spreads are clearly the coolest thing in the book, I found the "All-Time Team" to be the most interesting.  If you think it is hard to select an All-Time team from FSU, consider the challenge of selecting one for all time comprised of every player who has ever played. 

To do this, they polled over 20 sports illustrated writers.  No team was allowed to have more than 1 player on the All-Time Team, but the voters were not told that.  The results were very interesting, to say the least.

The All-Time College Football All-Star Team is as follows:

Coaches
-          Knute Rockne, Notre Dame, 1918-30
-          Paul (Bear) Bryant, Alabama, 1958-82
 
Defense
-          Charles Woodson: Defensive Back/Receiver, Michigan, 1995-97
-          Jack Ham: Linebacker, Penn State, 1968-70
-          Kenny Easley: Defensive Back, UCLA, 1977-80
-          Bubba Smith: Defensive End, Michigan State, 1964-66
-          Lee Roy Selmon: Defensive Tackle, Oklahoma, 1972-75
-          Bronko Nagurski: Tackle/Back, Minnesota, 1927-29
-          Hugh Green: Defensive End, Pittsburgh, 1977-80
-          Tommy Nobis: Linebacker, Texas, 1963-65
-          Deion Sanders: Defensive Back, Florida State, 1985-88
-          Lawrence Taylor: Linebacker, North Carolina, 1977-80
-          Jim Thorpe: Back, Carlisle, 1907-08, ’11-12
 
Offense
-          Glenn Davis: Back, Army, 1943-46
-          Chuck Bednarik: Center/Linebacker, Penn, 1945-48
-          Leon Hart: End, Notre Dame, 1946-49
-          Orlando Pace: Tackle, Ohio State, 1994-96
-          Jerry Rice: End, Mississippi Valley State, 1981-84
-          Red Grange: Back, Illinois, 1923-25
-          Jim Brown: Back, Syracuse, 1954-56
-          Herschel Walker: Back, Georgia, 1980-82
-          John Hannah: Guard/Tackle, Alabama, 1970-72
-          Ron Yary: Tackle, USC, 1965-67
-          Pudge Heffelfinger: Guard, Yale 1888-91
 
Specialists
-          Johnny Rodgers: Returns/Receivers, Nebraska, 1970-72
-          Gale Sayers: Returns/Back, Kansas, 1962-64
-          Doak Walker: Kicker/Back, SMU, 1945, ’47-49
-          Sammy Baugh: Punter/Back TCU, 1934-36

Hat Tip: Corn Nation

Florida State CB Deion Sanders represented Florida State quite well.  He was the highest vote getter.  He was also the only player from the state of Florida.

I spoke with an Editor from SI, and he thought Deion was a worth selection.  I agreed, adding that Deion Sanders made defense sexy.  At a time where teams were rapidly transitioning from the option game, they needed a player to shut down the passing game.  Sanders was that guy.  Teams completely avoided him and his side of the field.  He was incredibly dynamic when he touched the ball.  This is obviously a worthy choice.

We can obviously talk about the impact of the "maximum 1 player from each team" rule had, and I welcome any questions regarding the subject.

This book looks great on your coffee table.  The photography is so amazing that your spouse will enjoy the book even if she is not into sports.  With Christmas approaching, consider adding this book to your collection.  At under $20, it's a pretty decent gift.

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