Fourth and Long: The Fight for The Soul of College Football


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Fourth and Long : The Fight for the Soul of College Football by John U. Bacon
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All you have to do is win. If you win, they will come. You just need to make it as affordable as possible for your fans. Bacon reminds readers that athletic departments are not businesses they have no shareholders , and therefore should not be trying to milk every possible revenue stream. Shortly after publication of the book, Michigan announced a new policy regarding student season tickets for the upcoming basketball season, one that may decrease the number of tickets students receive despite the fact that they already paid for them.

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Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title. Search for all books with this author and title. Customers who bought this item also bought. Stock Image. New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1. Seller Rating:. There's no choice. Facing a nation that had turned on them, at a university that suddenly had no leaders -- with the interim president, Rod Erickson, and the acting athletic director, Dave Joyner, not daring to say a public word on their behalf -- the players managed to conduct a civil town-hall meeting and come to a mature decision.

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All seem settled. Until, that is, Mauti walked outside the room to retrieve Dr. Joyner, who had been cooling his heels outside while the players were deliberating. He was just all pissed off because he'd been waiting outside for twenty minutes. Joyner marched to the front of the room, visibly agitated, and said, "I thought I was coming here to talk to a group of men, but I didn't realize there was a bunch of children in here, whining about not going to a good bowl game and getting screwed!

But Gerald [Hodges] stood up first and said, 'Hold up, hold up, hold up! We're in here talking like men, to make this decision, and you come in here disrespecting us! This set Joyner off on another tour of his biography, which they had already heard a few times in his first few weeks on the job.


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Look, honestly, we didn't care. We're getting blasted by the media, and Erickson and Joyner were nowhere to be found. Joyner was a former member of the board. The suit was already on him. What we needed was someone to stand up. This elicited more sounds and comments from the players, and the meeting devolved from there. Players complained that Joyner had gone AWOL while the program was getting ripped by the national media, and Joyner repeated his list of accomplishments before becoming the acting athletic director.

By this time, Gerald Hodges was standing up and pointing back at Joyner. My father said, 'I'm only going to respect someone who respects me.

The two started walking toward each other, creating a commotion loud enough for Coach Larry Johnson Sr. Finally, Devon Still had his chance to speak. They weren't doing anything to stick up for us.

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Not on TV. Not on campus. After O'Brien was named the head coach, the entire senior class told him they did not want to see Joyner or Erickson on the field before the games. Joyner must have felt some contrition -- or embarrassment, take your pick -- because he respected their wishes, not setting foot in front of the team again until the banquet.

After the Lions dragged themselves to the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas, where they lost to the Houston Cougars, 30—14 -- their third loss in their last four games -- the media chorus declared Penn State's collapse would continue into the next season, if not longer. But Spider Caldwell's right-hand man in the equipment room, Kirk Diehl, saw the seeds of their renaissance after the team's last bowl practice, on December 31, While Diehl was cleaning up the locker room, Massaro and Mauti were finishing their rehab.

They asked him, "What's going to happen in January? But I know it's going to take you guys, as fifth-year seniors, to hold this team together. When a new coach comes in, it'll come down to how you guys respond to it. The coaches debated canceling the Monday-morning training session, but the players urged them not to. Their summer work had built up to their "max out" day to set their personal records before taking a week off, then returning to start a month of full-blown practice and three months of games. Monday morning, Coach O'Brien walked through the weight room while the players were lifting to let them know he had just learned the sanctions were going to be announced at ten, right after their training session ended.

He told them they would meet as a team in the players' lounge to watch the press conference. After they set a pile of personal bests, when they sat down in the players' lounge to watch Mark Emmert announce Penn State's punishment, their energy was quickly redirected. Just two years earlier, Emmert himself had held up Penn State as a pillar of all that was right about collegiate athletics. Just one year earlier, you'd be hard-pressed to find a university or a state with greater pride in its football program, which stressed "Success with Honor" -- and seemed to live up to it. Now it was the football program that threatened to bring down the very university it had helped build.

For the people watching in that players' lounge the question, stripped down to its essentials, was this: Could Penn State's program, and the traditions that went with it, survive the season intact? Did they have a future worth fighting for? O'Brien immediately led everyone into the team room, where he draped his left arm over the podium and spoke directly to his shell-shocked squad. He said -- and I'll never forget this -- 'We're not here to understand the rules.

We're here to follow them. It's my obligation to tell you that you are free to go anywhere you want, with no penalties. However, if you stay, I promise you, you will never forget it. He didn't try to minimize what the NCAA had just done.

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He didn't beg us to stay. But he stressed the positive: 'You still get to play football in front of , rabid fans. You still get to be on TV. And most important, you will still get a great education. The bond between the new coach and his players had grown stronger, but if O'Brien was going to keep his team together, he still had lots of work to do -- and not a moment to spare. The threat was as real as it could be.

Given the endless rumors of departures, Mauti and Zordich knew if they were going to keep their team together, they had to do more than just make phone calls and visit their teammates.

Fourth and Long: The Fight for The Soul of College Football Fourth and Long: The Fight for The Soul of College Football
Fourth and Long: The Fight for The Soul of College Football Fourth and Long: The Fight for The Soul of College Football
Fourth and Long: The Fight for The Soul of College Football Fourth and Long: The Fight for The Soul of College Football
Fourth and Long: The Fight for The Soul of College Football Fourth and Long: The Fight for The Soul of College Football
Fourth and Long: The Fight for The Soul of College Football Fourth and Long: The Fight for The Soul of College Football
Fourth and Long: The Fight for The Soul of College Football Fourth and Long: The Fight for The Soul of College Football
Fourth and Long: The Fight for The Soul of College Football Fourth and Long: The Fight for The Soul of College Football

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