Bowled Over

Bowled Over: Big-Time College Football from the Sixties to the BCS Era

Michael Oriard
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 352
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5149/9780807898659_oriard
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  • Book Info
    Bowled Over
    Book Description:

    In this compellingly argued and deeply personal book, respected sports historian Michael Oriard--who was himself a former second-team All-American at Notre Dame--explores a wide range of trends that have changed the face of big-time college football and transformed the role of the student-athlete.Oriard considers such issues as the politicization of football in the 1960s and the implications of the integration of college football. The heart of the book examines a handful of decisions by the NCAA in the early seventies--to make freshmen eligible to play, to lower admission standards, and, most critically, to replace four-year athletic scholarships with one-year renewable scholarships--that helped transform student-athletes into athlete-students and turned the college game into a virtual farm league for professional football.Oriard then traces the subsequent history of the sport as it has tried to grapple with the fundamental contradiction of college football as both extracurricular activity and multi-billion-dollar mass entertainment. The relentless necessity to pursue revenue, Oriard argues, undermines attempts to maintain academic standards, and it fosters a football culture in which athletes are both excessively entitled and exploited.As a former college football player, Oriard brings a unique perspective to his topic, and his sympathies are always with the players and for the game. This original and compelling study will interest everyone concerned about the future of college football.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0530-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-12)

    This book is a companion to myBrand NFL: Making and Selling America’s Favorite Sport(2007). They began as a single volume, which was itself a hybrid: an account of football in the 1960s, when I myself played, leading into an exploration of how the game at both the college and professional levels has changed since then. There proved to be too many narratives to develop coherently, though the necessary bisection was not all gain. What has happened in the National Football League (NFL) in recent decades has powerfully affected what used to be known as Division I-A college football...

  5. PART I. FOOTBALL AND THE 1960s
    • 1 FROM THE SIDELINES OF A FOOTBALL REVOLUTION
      (pp. 15-56)

      Looking back, someone today might conclude that to play football in the 1960s was to choose authoritarian discipline over personal freedom, violence over peace and love, the war in Vietnam over the revolution at home. Period photographs seem to tell that story: athletes with square jaws, square crew cuts, and square attitudes over here, wildeyed protesters and wild-haired hippies over there.¹ Actual confrontations became symbolic dramas, as when UC Berkeley football players heckled the speakers at the rally in October 1964 that inaugurated the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley. Or when athletes at the University of Pennsylvania in 1965 chanted,...

    • 2 COLLEGE FOOTBALL IN BLACK AND WHITE, PART I: INTEGRATING THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE
      (pp. 57-88)

      At the end of the 1960s, football was not yet indelibly black. In 1968 about a quarter of the players in the NFL were African American (about the same as in Major League Baseball, with the National Basketball Association at 50 percent).¹ The college game had marquee black players like O. J. Simpson and Leroy Keyes, to be sure, but after two decades of gradual change, few northern teams were even as integrated as the NFL, and the South had barely begun to desegregate its football programs. But big-time college football was on the verge of a dramatic racial transformation....

    • 3 COLLEGE FOOTBALL IN BLACK AND WHITE, PART II: BLACK PROTEST
      (pp. 89-126)

      I missed playing against Eddie McAshan by one year. Georgia Tech was all-white when Notre Dame played them in 1969, my senior year, as was Texas in the Cotton Bowl at the end of that season. One of my teammates in Kansas City in the early 1970s was Warren McVea, the first African American to play at a major college in Texas (at the University of Houston in 1965); another was Mike Livingston, a white quarterback from SMU who had been Jerry LeVias’s best friend on the team when LeVias broke the color barrier in the Southwest Conference in 1966....

  6. INTERLUDE 1973: THE NCAA GOES PRO
    (pp. 127-142)

    The history of college football since the 1960s can look like an orderly progression of seasons, each one concluding in conference titles and bowl games, all-conference and All-America teams, a clear or disputed national champion, local bragging rights everywhere settled for another year. Football power shifted during this period from the Midwest to the South, as Miami, Florida, and Florida State rose to the top ranks of football powers, the SEC supplanted the Big Ten as the premier conference, and the state of Florida supplanted Pennsylvania and Ohio as the cradle of football talent. Big games, star players (Archie Griffin,...

  7. PART II. LIVING WITH A CONTRADICTION
    • 4 REVENUE AND REFORM
      (pp. 145-190)

      The one-year scholarship was part of a package of NCAA legislation in 1972 and 1973 that radically altered college sports.¹ In 1972 the NCAA made freshmen in football and basketball eligible for varsity competition (as athletes in the “minor” sports had been since 1968). Then in 1973, as noted earlier, in addition to instituting the one-year scholarship, the organization rescinded the socalled 1.6 rule, now requiring only that an incoming scholarship freshman have earned a 2.0 grade-point average in his high school courses, whether physics or wood shop. First approved at the 1965 convention, the 1.6 rule had used a...

    • 5 OPPORTUNITY, ENTITLEMENT, AND EXPLOITATION
      (pp. 191-232)

      That big-time college football has conflicting priorities is the oldest of old news, but conditions have changed since the 1960s. I now want to focus more directly on the ways that these dual priorities impact the young men who play the game. I begin, then, by returning to the establishment of the one-year scholarship in 1973, which initially was all but ignored by the general public but now seems like a slow-acting virus whose potency has only recently become clear.

      As I noted earlier, football initially belonged to the players—beginning in the 1870s, they made the rules and ran...

    • 6 THINKING ABOUT REFORM
      (pp. 233-280)

      Proposing reforms for big-time college football is a fool’s task. Calls for reform have been the background noise against which college football has played out for more than a century. Every now and then, the clamor becomes loud enough to irritate those in charge and their most fervent boosters and to make at least a portion of the broader football public uneasy. But it soon fades into the background again, to be ignored by all but diehard critics.

      The indictment has not changed all that much over the years. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that John R....

  8. Notes
    (pp. 281-320)
  9. Index
    (pp. 321-334)