Book Review No. 11 is Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian's The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football. The authors observed the action from inside several programs during the glorious summer and fall of 2012 that culminated in an Orange Bowl appearance by Northern Illinois. Oh, and Bucky Badger got to the Rose Bowl. Those events merit mention en passant; there are more compelling glories and scandals elsewhere, oh, yes, there are.
I give you the book's concluding paragraphs, written as post-script to the title game played in mid-January of 2013 (about the same time the pro hockey strike ended, if memory serves.)
For one night, everything glorious about college football was on display. The vivid pageantry, collective excellence, communal celebration and fierce competition provided the grand spectacle only NCAA football played at its highest level can deliver. One could almost forget the unremitting pressure, the scandals haunting the sport -- the bidding wars for top recruits; the booster payoffs; the horrific injuries; the academic cheating; the rising tide of criminal acts; the brute fact that the young men who sacrificed on the field were interchangeable pieces who received exactly none of the billions of dollars of revenue the game generated.
The best reporting presents the facts, leaving the editorial implications as an exercise. So mote it be.
(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)